Malaysia was supposed to be formed on 31st August 1963 but because of many reservations expressed by the Dayak leaders with regards to power sharing, a Commission was set up to find out what they were and to make recommendations to allay the fears expressed. The work needed took time and Sarawak and Sabah officially became Independent through the formation of Malaysia on September 16th.
Yet September 16th is not a public holiday as we are told to celebrate August 31st as our Independence Day, the same day as the Federation Of Malaya. August 31st was the Day TAR declared the words, “MERDEKA, MERDEKA, MERDEKA” when Sarawak was still under the British. Union Jack, our official flag then, was lowered 15th September 1963 and replaced by the Sarawak and Malaysia flags next day.
Yet it is only a day to remember but not celebrated. Even our State Government makes the second Saturday of September our official Governor’s Birthday. Can’t we in Sarawak recognize September 16th as the DAY we gained Independence from the British Empire by making it also the Governor’s Birthday, a sort of double celebration?
We should also remember that once we were under the Sultan of Brunei. However, James Brooke was given the “province of Sarawak” by the Sultan Of Brunei for helping to quell a rebellion at Berlidah. That was on the 24.09.1841. He was proclaimed as “RAJAH” on 1.8. 1842.
James Brooke first came to Kuching on 15.8.1839 only to confirm that there were problems in Kuching against the Sultan’s man in Kuching and that the “naked” natives in Sarawak Kanan wanted a “WHITE” man to become their Rajah in instead of Raja Muda Hashim. He returned later on 29.8.1840 ready to help quell the problematic rebellions by the respective groups and made a success of it to create the present State Of Sarawak.
Sarawak became an Indenpendent State since and cession of Sarawak to the British crown was only done after the Second World War on 1.7.1946 after being ruled by the White Rajahs 103 years and 11 months and became part of a British Colony.
We formed Malaysia together with British Colony of North Borneo(now called Sabah), Singapore and Federation Of Malaya in 1963. Singapore was kicked out later to become an Independent nation till to-day.
So what day should be a significant day for Sarawak Independence? Should we celebrate 16th September at all?
Source: Dates quoted from Sarawak Gov’t ALMANAC 2009.