Saturday, January 16

Chong: Sarawak should stop celebrating National Day on Aug 31

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KUCHING: DAP Sarawak says the state government should stop spending taxpayers’ money to continue celebrating National Day on Aug 31 in Sarawak as it bears no historical significance to the state.

Its chairman Chong Chieng Jen said the undeniable historical facts to this was that the Federation of Malaya obtained its independence on Aug 31, 1957; Sarawak obtained  self-governance on July 22, 1963; and that Sarawak, together with the Federation of Malaya, Sabah and Singapore, formed Malaysia on Sept 16, 1963.

“Since 2015, the state government has started celebrating July 22 as ‘Sarawak Day’, which is also declared a public holiday in Sarawak this year.

“As such, there is no justification for the state government to waste public funds to continue celebrating Aug 31,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Chong, who is also Kota Sentosa assemblyman and Bandar Kuching MP, pointed out that stemming from these historical facts, it was clear that the state government should just hold official celebrations on July 22 and Sept 16.

“However, the state government is still directed by the federal government and it is still compulsory for the state government to spend millions of ringgit every year to hold an official celebration every Aug 31,” he said.

He noted that Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem had said so much about the state’s autonomy but

queried why the state government was still allowing itself to be compelled by the federal government to spend millions of ringgit every year to celebrate Aug 31.

“This money can be better spent for the poor in the rural areas of Sarawak. If the state government cannot even have the autonomy to decide on its official government celebration calendar, what autonomy can the state government fight for Sarawak?” he questioned, adding this also showed the subordination of the state government to the federal government.

Chong went on to say that the Aug 31 celebration by the state government would only further confuse the younger generation on the true history of Sarawak and Malaysia.

“As such, I urge (Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri) Adenan to stand up against his Umno counterparts in Putrajaya and to stop the Aug 31 celebrations in Sarawak. Let us confine our official state celebrations to July 22 and Sept 16,” he said.