KUCHING: An organisation called Borneo Heritage Foundation is organising an Independence Walk to commemorate Sarawak’s 50th Independence Day, or the day the British Colonial Government ceded rule of Sarawak.
The event’s coordinator, Peter John Jaban, said the walk would be held on July 21, on the eve of the Independence Day.
It will be a “walk of celebration and awareness” from Telang Usan Hotel through the streets of Kuching to Padang Merdeka, he said.
“This Independence Walk is a beginning. This year will be a small event, something fun for the family to bring us Sarawakians together.
“But one day, it will be an important day for us all. The State government has made a great step forward in reinstating 16 September as a public holiday.
“Sarawak and Sabah were, for too long, left out of Merdeka celebrations. We hope that, in future, Sarawak Independence Day will also get the same recognition,” he said yesterday.
He said the overall aim of the event and that of the Borneo Heritage Foundation was to raise awareness among the public about the history of Sarawak and its special constitutional position as one of three nations in the federation of Malaysia, and not as one of thirteen states.
To this end, he said there would be a full day forum with the theme “We must know” at Telang Usan Hotel following the Independence Walk.
This event will feature speakers such as Datuk Jeffrey Kitingan, Dr Awang Hasmadi Awang Mois, Dato Morshidi Abdul Rahman, Paul Raja and Peter John himself.
The speakers would touch on subjects as diverse as the Formation of Malaysia and Freedom of Expression.
It will highlight the history of this state from its days of rule by the British until the moment of its independence on July 22, 1963, and the swearing in of Stephen Kalong Ningkan as Sarawak’s first Chief Minister.
Awang Raweng, a genuine Sarawak hero, will flag off the walk at 8am outside the TelangUsan Hotel. Peter John said this ex-Iban Ranger could not be a better choice to represent the best Sarawak has to offer on this occasion as Malaysia’s only ever recipient of the George Cross, which is the ultimate award for bravery bestowed by the United Kingdom.
“The Borneo Heritage Foundation wants to encourage all Sarawakians to recognise this date and calls on the State Government to institute this as a day of celebration for future years. T-shirts to commemorate the event will be on sale at the Telang Usan Hotel on the day,” he said.