Poor turnout at Sarawak Independence Day rally

SIBU - The first ever Sarawak Independence Day public assembly by a movement called "Sarawak 4 Sarawakians" (S4S) recorded a lower turnout than the targeted 1,000 people.

Aimed at celebrating Sarawak's independence from British rule on July 22, 1963, the gathering saw only about 500 people at the assembly.

Rally organiser Tay Swee Teck attributed this to the event's location, saying the people would have preferred a town centre venue.

"However, the police had only allowed it to be held at the town square," he said.

The organiser also used the event to put forward their demand for a revision of 18 of the 20 points in the Malaysia Agree­ment.

"Speakers at the rally went through the points of the Agree­ment and stated what they ­wanted to see our local leaders do for Sarawakians," said Clarence Ting, who is SUPP's Pelawan branch chairman.

At the event, Sibu SUPP launched its "I Am Sarawakian" campaign. Sibu SUPP, which sent a group of 60 to attend the assembly, was of the view that such gatherings were significant as these promoted awareness of Sarawak's history.

Michael Tiang, who is in charge of the "I am Sarawakian" campaign, said Sarawak gained its independence in 1963 when the British returned its administrative powers to Sarawak.

"Every Sarawakian should remember July 22 and celebrate this Independence Day every year," he said.

"SUPP, as a Sarawak-based political party and 100 per cent formed by Sarawakians, will use our position to propose to the Chief Minister to declare July 22 as Hari Sarawak."

Tiang said the historical facts on Independence Day were never taught in schools.

"This shows that the syllabus, designed by the federal education authority, had failed to pre­sent a proper history of Sarawak," he said.

When contacted, Deputy Home Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Wan Jaafar, who is Santubong MP, attributed the poor turnout to people who felt that there was no need for such a gathering.