This Merdeka Day is a good occasion for all Sarawakians to look back on the state’s history, and to acknowledge the importance of having accurate knowledge of Sarawak’s story through the last century or so, said state PKR chairman Baru Bian.
Baru, who is Ba Kelalan assemblyman, said only when Sarawakians are in possession of accurate facts that celebrations become meaningful.
“In the living memory of all Sarawakians, Aug 31 has been celebrated as Malaysia’s Independence Day each year. We were all caught in the untruth that Aug 31 was our common Independence Day.
“The reason for this is not to be found in any document – perhaps it was a way the politicians thought would be best to foster integration between East and West. Sarawakians swallowed this untruth for many years until the voice of a few good leaders slowly grew into the strong and steady demands of many for historical truth to be accepted and honoured, which is that the significant date for Sarawak and Sabah is Sept 16, when Malaysia was formed in 1963.
“To its credit, the Selangor government under Pakatan Rakyat was the first to celebrate Malaysia Day on Sept 16 in 2009. After that, in 2010, the federal government followed suit and declared Sept 16 as Malaysia Day and a public holiday,” he said in his Merdeka Day 2016 message yesterday.
Baru said the past five or six years had seen many half-truths and untruths being exposed.
In Sarawak, he said people had realised that contrary to what they had been taught to believe, Sarawak and Sabah are not merely states within the country of Malaysia, but are equal partners with Malaya in the Federation of Malaysia.
“We have also asserted that there is no official religion in Sarawak and that English is one of our official languages, besides Bahasa Malaysia.
“We have begun to wake up to the fact that we had rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), but these rights had been eroded by the Federal Government over the years, leaving us in the position we are in today, the poor and neglected cousin across the sea.”
Baru said the inescapable fact that history had proven was that the truth cannot be suppressed, no matter how the authorities and the rich and powerful try to do so.
He lamented that in the Malaysian scene, even with the exposure of grand corruption of an unimaginable scale being exposed in the unfolding 1MDB saga, and allegations of murders, conspiracy plots and international financial fraud, those implicated in the scandal refuse to take responsibility, and shamelessly continue to mislead the public.
“I am confident however, that justice will prevail eventually as more and more Malaysians are calling for truth and justice to be upheld,” Batu said.
Baru continued: “In our reflections, we must also look inwards, and take our share of the responsibility for the situation we are in. When Sabah and Sarawak lost our veto power of 34 per cent parliamentary seats, our MPs and Chief Ministers let it happen.
“When the Federal Constitution was amended to make Sabah and Sarawak mere states within Malaysia, we let it pass without objection. When the Petroleum Development Act was enacted, putting us at a major financial disadvantage, we did not protest.
“When the Territorial Seas Bill was debated in 2012, we did not raise a squeak, resulting in the loss of our sovereignty over the resources in our continental shelf. Our own representatives failed to protect and secure our rights, whether through ignorance or for political expediency.”
With the realisation of what had gone on before, and the appreciation of our history, Baru said Sarawakians could start to right the wrongs that had been perpetrated, and indeed, they had begun the process of reclaiming their rights.
“This is a positive and exciting time for us, and I hope that we will continue to appreciate the truths in our history while we mature as a nation.” As Aug 31 is celebrated throughout the country, Baru invited Sarawakians to reflect on these truths, and never forget that the truth would prevail, sooner or later.
“It is my hope that Sarawakians and Sabahans will henceforth be free from historical and political blindness. Let us refuse to be enslaved by ignorance any longer, for as the Good Book says — the truth will set us free.”
The Borneo Post Online