Thursday, December 8

Make formation of Malaysia a subject in school — Wong


KUCHING: Former state minister Datuk Amar James Wong Kim Min, who played a key role in the formation of Malaysia, suggests that the history of how Malaysia was formed should be made a subject in school.

He urged Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in his capacity as the Minister of Education to consider this.

He reasoned that its introduction as a subject was important because the nation’s formation represented a very significant history that all Malaysians should know, particularly the new generation, so as to realise how lucky they are that Malaysia was formed.

“For us in Sarawak, we should consider ourselves very lucky because if Malaysia was not formed (on September 16, 1963) our beloved state could have been sold to Indonesia,” he said.

He said this in his opening remarks when launching his two new books – ‘Memories of Speeches made at the Council Negeri’ and ‘The Birth of Malaysia” (third edition)’ at the Sarawak Club yesterday.

On ‘Memories of Speeches Made at the Council Negeri’, which contains extracts of his speeches during his tenure as an assemblyman and as a member of the State Cabinet, Wong said it would be very useful to the current and future elected representatives.

“By reading the book you will get to know more about the history of the Council Negeri as the book is considered historical in genre because it also covers many years prior to the formation of Malaysia and the early years after Malaysia came into being,” he said.

Wong is one of Sarawak’s best known personalities because apart from being a politician who played a key role in the formation of Malaysia, a former state minister and legislator at both state and federal levels, he was also a poet, golfer and environmentalist.

Born on August 6, 1922 in Limbang, he received his primary and secondary education at St Mary’s School and St Thomas School here before studying at Serdang College of Agriculture in Selangor. His tertiary education was interrupted by the Second World War so he returned to Limbang.

He became the pioneer of the hill logging industry in Sarawak in 1949 while 1953 saw the beginning of his long and distinguished political career when he became a member of the Limbang District Council.

From 1956 to 2001, be was a member of the Sarawak Council Negeri and with the advent of Malaysia, he served as a member of the Malaysia Solidarity Consultative Committee, which among its tasks, was to formulate terms for the entry of Sabah (North Borneo) and Sarawak into Malaysia.

He was Deputy Chief Minister in Sarawak’s first Cabinet (1111963-1966) and during that period he was a deputy leader in the Malaysia Goodwill Mission to Africa (to gain Afro-Asia support for the new Federation of Malaysia) and a member of Malaysia’s delegation to the first session of the UN General Assembly.

He was detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) from March 1974 to 1976 and when he retired from active public service in 2001, he was the longest serving assemblyman in the country having been in the country’s oldest legislative body.

His friends and guests, including a Sabahan politician Datuk Dr Jeffery Kitingan,  were present at the book launch yesterday.