Walking for recognition of Sarawak’s independence day
By Danielle Sendou Ringgit
THE THIRD EDITION OF the Sarawak Freedom and Independence Walk organised by the 722 Committee will be held on July 19th at Central Padang to commemorate the day Sarawak gained independence from Britain on July 22nd 1963.
According to organising chairman Peter John Jaban, the sole purpose of the procession is to have the government recognise July 22nd as the day Sarawak gained independence and declare it as a public holiday.
“There’s only one purpose of the walk since it was started in 2013. So for next year, if they still don’t recognise July 22nd as a public holiday, we will continue to do the same every year until the date is recognised,” said Peter during a press conference at Third Mile on July 9th.
Hoping that the people would not forget Sarawak;s history, the committee points out that most are not aware of the fact Sarawak has gained independence on July 22nd.
Taking the example of the date September 16th where it was recognised by the government as Malaysia Day and declared a public holiday since 2010, the committee wishes to do the same for July 22nd.
Elaborating further, the committee suggested that Sarawak should not be celebrating Merdeka Day on August 31st as the date refers to when the Federation of Malaya gained independence in 1957 while Sarawak gained its independence on July 22nd 1963 and had formed Malaysia together with Malaya and Singapore on September 16th 1963.
This year’s procession will be different from the first two editions of the walk which were held at Telang Usan and Central Padang respectively.
“This year would be different because the walk would be short, so everybody will be walking and we will not be accompanied with big bikes, 4WD vehicles and sport cars,” said assistant organising committee member Alim Mideh before adding that participants may bring their bicycles if they wish to.
According to Alim, those interested in joining the procession are advised to assemble at the area between Central Padang and Merdeka Plaza at around 1.45 pm before starting the walk at 2 pm.
“Our purpose in organising the walk is to celebrate July 22nd as an independence day but unfortunately the date falls on Wednesday which is a working day and many would not be able to make it on that day, so that is why we are organising it on July 19th,” explained Alim.
The procession will start at Central Padang, go on past St. Thomas Cathedral, along McDougall street, St. Mary school and Main Bazaar before returning to the original assembly point at Central Padang.
“We have written to the Police Department about this walk and they will meet and be giving us briefing,” said Alim.
During the press conference, Peter also mentioned that there is a confusion from the public about the group doing the walk.
“Most of the public were a bit confused about the walk. There are two groups here. The 722 group will do the walk on the 19th, while the Sarawak4Sarawakian group will do it on the 22nd. I am the organizing chairman for both groups,” said Peter.
“On the 19th, it is for those who are unable to turn up on the 22nd. The Sarawak4Sarawakian group, most of these people are from outstation, where they will flag off from Miri, and drive to Kuching, arriving here on the 21st. They will join the walk on the 22nd,”clarified Peter.
Those who are interested in joining in the independence walk are advised that this is a peaceful procession. The organisers advice participants to leave their children at home, do not bring firearms, weapons or drugs, do not show up drunk or intoxicated and carry anything that will provoke racist sentiment.
Participants are also advised not to show up wearing T-shirts or bearing flags representing any political party.
“Our mission is to only celebrate Sarawak Independence Day and demand that the government recognise July 22nd,” stressed Alim.