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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Happy Merdeka Sarawak

Come tomorrow, Sarawak celebrates her 53rd independence day from British Colonial rule on 22nd July 1963.  And tomorrow's celebration is the first to be held on the momentous day since 1963.

Personally, the celebration has brought a flood of ambivalent feeling to myself. 

As a Malaysian, the date has no historical meaning attached to it.  The date was never recognised by Sarawak government since formation of Malaysia.  And the Education Ministry did not include it in History syllabus.

Historical Whitewash
Was it a whitewash of Sarawak history by Malaya, as some S4S and SSKM activists claimed it to be? 

Personally, I doubt that.  Rather, I see the possibility of a whitewash by Sarawakian leaders of the past.  Sabah and Singapore respectively obtained their independence from British Colonial rule on 31 August 1963 and yet this was recorded and taught in our history books.

Secessionist claimed that Sarawak managed to obtain our independence independently.  Thus no longer should joined Malaya to form Malaysia.  But how many Malaysians, let alone Sarawakian know that the 22nd July 1963 independence could only happen with Malayan intervention?

Tunku's Intervention When Tunku came out with the idea to form Malaysia, the British were more than happy to offload Sarawak, Sabah, Singapore and Brunei.  They had in fact wanted to force the formation of Malaysia onto all affected parties.  To a certain extent, Sukarno's claim that formation of Malaysia is a form of British neo-colonialism is correct.

But Tunku, in his wisdom disagreed.  He wanted each territory to join on its own accord. 
Thus, British had to give all four territories the right for self-determination before formation of Malaysia can be concluded.  And history happened as we all know it.

Brunei pulled out from forming Malaysia soon after Indonesian-backed Brunei Revolt which was led by A M Azahari was contained.  (To a certain extent, the Philippines were also tacitly involved as they had sheltered the leaders of the Brunei Revolt).

Sarawak obtained self-determination on 22nd July 1963. 

While Sabah and Singapore opted self-determination on 31 August 1963. 

The culmination of this effort was supposed to be a new nation called Malaysia on 31 August 1963. (31 August was previously selected by Tunku as Malayan independence day following the advice from the Islamic scholar, Tuan Badawi, whose grandson became Malaysia's 5th Prime Minister.  The date was chosen based on Islamic calendar and was said to be an auspicious date.)

Indonesia's Sukarno and Philippines' Diosdado Macapagal protest to the United Nations forced the United Nations to intervene.  Cobbold Commission had to go to all 3 territories to verify if the locals consented to the formation.  And on 16 Sept 1963, Malaysia flag was raised in all 4 territories.

In Sarawak, TNKU and PARAKU guerrillas readied themselves for this new 'occupation'.  Indonesian involvement meant many of these guerrillas were actually trained in special operations and they were supplied quite well.

The spectre of Indonesian occupation probably spooked Sarawakian leaders to agree to formation of Malaysia.  For a week, Limbang which is part of Sarawak was under the occupation of TNKU rebels.  TNKU guerrillas had attacked the police station and killed at least 3 officers.  Till today, the police station still bear bullet holes from the attack.

In Brunei itself, the Revolt was put down with the assistance from Sarawak Rangers and British Royal Marine.  One of the participants from Sarawak Rangers was the late Datuk Temenggung Kanang anak Langkau, SP, PGB. 

What if Sarawak decided not to form Malaysia? In a what if scenario, what would have happened to Sarawak if our leaders then decided not to be part of Malaysia? 

High likely, today our flag would not be the Crown flag that many SSKM and S4S look highly upon.  And instead of the Jalur Gemilang that we fly today, most likely we will be flying the red and white flag of Indonesia.

Sukarno's dream of forming an Indonesia Raya meant a nation that encompasses today's Indonesia all the way up to the borders of Indo-China.  Meaning the whole of Malaysia will be part of this Sukarno's dream.

Fortunately, CIA intervened and assisted then Lt Gen Suharto to prepare for a coup.  CIA had probably assisted Suharto as they had feared that Partai Komunis Indonesia (PKI) influence over Sukarno was worrying and may result in Indonesia turning into a communist nation.  

It is unsure if CIA had a part in assisting Lt Gen Suharto and Foreign Minister Adam Malik to secretly enter Malaysia and meet up with Tun Abdul Razak to negotiate for peace.  The secret negotiation have largely helped to smooth the peace process once Lt Gen Suharto took over the country after a failed coup by PKI activists in what is known today as Gerakan 30 September, where 6 generals and 1 officer were executed.  

Suharto's assistance to end the coup had also helped to prevent the Jakarta becoming the first city in the world to be destroyed by a nuclear bomb (the first 2 cities, Nagasaki and Hiroshima, were destroyed by atomic bomb).  The threat from Indonesia was seriously taken by the Brits that they had prepared tactical nuclear bomb for launch from Singapore.  

Hindsight is always 20-20
I would not blame any of my fellow compatriots feeling that we Sarawakians were given a raw deal in formation of Malaysia.  From the status of one of the 4 forming territories, the status had been downgraded to that of one of 14 states. 

However, with Tok Nan, as we Sarawakians fondly call our Chief Minister, at the helm of the state, slowly and surely we are regaining what we have lost out, especially during the years that Tun Mahathir was the PM.  

Many of us may continue to have differences in view on this issue.  I can understand.  But let it be clear that we should seek our place within Malaysia.  

So Happy 53rd Independence Day to Sarawak.  Let me end this article with videos from Youtube.  I hope it will warm your heart. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi friend,i wonder why s4s still using the british colonial flag while celebrating the independent day. Haha. Could you please raise their awareness?