KUCHING: Sarawakians and Sabahans in Melbourne recently held a simple cake-cutting ceremony to celebrate the 178th anniversary of the founding of the independent sovereign State of Sarawak on Sept 24, 1841.
State Reform Party (STAR) president, who is also Sarawak Association for People’s Aspiration (Sapa) founder, Lina Soo, in her press statement said the occasion was in conjunction with the Borneo International Forum hosted by Australian NGO Sabah Sarawak Rights – Australia and New Zealand (SSRANZ) titled: ‘Is There
Any Future for Sabah and Sarawak in the Federation of Malaysia?’
Speakers at the forum included Melbourne-based lawyer Robert Pei, Sabah Member of Parliament (MP) and Sabah State Legislative assemblyman Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, Sabah activist Emily Elvera Edward, and founding president of Sapa and guest speaker, Shane Van Duren.
The papers presented at the forum were ‘The Malaysia Agreement 1963 and Chagos Island Case’ by Robert Pei, ‘Malaysia at the Crossroad’ by Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, ‘Statistic Case and Personal Development of Sabahans and Sarawakians in Australia and the Aspiration of the People’ by Emily Edward, and ‘Future of Sarawak under Malaysia – Top 10 Fault Lines’ by Lina Soo.
Shane Duren shared with the audience his experience as a member of peacekeeping force in Timor Leste towards achieving independence.
In her paper, Soo narrated on the constitutional history of Sarawak as an independent state carved out of the Brunei Sultanate on Sept 24, 1841; First Rajah James Brooke hoisted Sarawak’s national flag in September 1848; International recognition as a sovereign state was first accorded by USA in 1850, followed by England on Jan 19, 1864 and Netherlands on June 20, 1891.
She said Rajah James Brooke established the Sarawak Supreme Council on Oct 17, 1855, and the Third Rajah Vyner Brooke granted the Sarawak Constitution on Sept 24, 1941, the first constitutional council instituted and the first state constitution in the region, respectively.
She explained further that Sarawak’s sovereignty was reaffirmed on Oct 25, 1855 in a people’s proclamation represented by native chieftains – Datu Bandar, Datu Tumangong, Datu Imaum, Tuan Katib – in the presence of Sarawak Council members and British Consul General, who declared on record that ‘Sarawak is an independent country’ and James Brooke had the ‘support of a free people’ with no subjection whatsoever to the Brunei sultan.
Following the people’s declaration, James Brooke proclaimed Sarawak Statehood, with a government carrying the capacity to make treaties with other sovereign nations and to declare war, she said.
Distinguished Legal Opinion on Status of Sarawak in International Law on Sept 18, 1945 by Sir Henry Wynn Parry and Sir Arnold McNair, former Judge of International Court of Justice and first President of European Court of Human Rights, at the behest of Anthony Brooke held that The Agreement of Sept 5, 1888 placing ‘the State of Sarawak under the protection of Her Majesty the Queen’ and Supplementary Agreement of Nov 22, 1941, were made between two independent states – Britain and Sarawak – and in operation under International Law.
She explained that this was compounded by the fact that Sarawak possessed its own flag, currency, postage stamps and Armed Forces viz. Sarawak Rangers.
Soo, who has been commemorating the birthdate of Sarawak annually since 2013, said she would continue to do so wherever she was, reminding the people of Sarawak to remember the historical date of Sept 24, 1841, and never to forget that indeed Sarawak’s origin as a nation was of ‘statehood and independent sovereignty’.
The forum was attended by about 200 Sabahans and Sarawakians coming from all parts of Australia.