This post reflects the important dates for the independence of Sarawak. Yes, Sarawak Independence.
Sabah and Sarawak NEVER JOINED Malaysia. Sabah and Sarawak, the two colonial regions from Borneo together with Federated States of Malaya formed Malaysia in 16th September 1963.
By right, Sabah and Sarawak are partners of Malaya. But in reality, Sabah and Sarawak which are blessed with rich natural resources has become a mere East Malaysia states and have been ranked among the poorer states in Malaysia.
* Sabah 20-point agreement prior to formation of Malaysia
Key moments before S’wak’s independence
Proclamation to mark self-rule was on 16 September
With the peace and prosperity that the state is enjoying today, 45 years since it formed Malaysia, it is easy to take things for granted and forget how it all began.
How many Sarawakians can name their first chief minister? How many actually know that Sarawak was an independent nation for some two months before it decided to be part of Malaysia? How many know why the formation of Malaysia had to be postponed?
At the launch of Sarawak’s 45th anniversary at the State Stadium on Tuesday, Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud impressed upon the people that they were not just Sarawakians but ‘anak Sarawak (children of Sarawak)’.
He made it clear in his rousing speech that it was vital for ‘anak Sarawak’ to know how their country was born; who were the people who fought for it and what sacrifices had to be made before they can forge forward into the future.
“Without knowledge of our history and how our politics have moved; without knowing our economic struggle, without knowing how we have changed socially and culturally, we cannot fight for a future that will be better for our children,” said Taib.
“Let all the younger generation imbibe the lessons of history; try to emulate whatever they can from the success of our past to build a brighter and more glorious Sarawak in Malaysia.”
With that in mind, let’s journey back in time to revisit some of the important dates for the independence of Sarawak and the formation of Malaysia.
27 May: Tunku Abdul Rahman, Prime Minister of Persekutuan Tanah Melayu, at a Foreign Correspondents’ Association of Southeast Asia press conference in Singapore, says the Federation of Malaya should have a close understanding with Britain and the people of Sarawak, Brunei and Sabah.
20 June: Sir Harold Macmillan, British Prime Minister, in a reply to a question in Parliament, says he is interested in the suggestion made by Tunku.
26 June: British officers from Singapore, Sarawak, Brunei and Sabah, consisting of governors, hold a meeting in Singapore until June 27.
1 July: Tunku Abdul Rahman accompanies the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong of Malaya to officially visit Brunei and Sarawak.
9 July: Azahari (Partai Rakyat Brunei), Ong Kee Hui (Sarawak United People’s Party) and Donald Stephens (Sabah) establish the United Front and disagrees with the proposal by Tunku Abdul Rahman and Britain.
12 July: Tunku Abdul Rahman exposes communist threats in South East Asia as an important factor in his proposal.
22 July: Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore chief minister, proposes that representatives from Sarawak, Brunei and Sabah present their views at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) on the Malaysia proposal.
28 July: Establishment of the Malaysia Solidarity Consultative Committee (MSCC) in Singapore during the CPA Conference.
12 August: First visit of leaders from Sarawak and Sabah - Datu Bandar Abang Mustapa, Temenggong Jugah, Donald Stephens and Dato Mustapha - to Malaya to see the progress for themselves. Many such visits are organised for leaders in Sarawak and Sabah up till the formation of Malaysia.
24 August: MSCC holds its first meeting in Jesselton (now Kota Kinabalu) in North Borneo (Sabah). Brunei did not attend.
16 October: A motion for the formation of Malaysia is tabled in Parliament by Tunku Abdul Rahman and is approved.
23 November: Malaya negotiates with Britain to amend the Defence Agreement to expand British assistance when Malaysia is formed and to maintain their army camps. Malaya and Britain negotiate and agree on the setting up of an investigative commission on the formation of Malaysia.
December: Parti Barisan Anak Jati Sarawak (Barjasa) is registered. Political parties formed earlier are the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) on 12 June 1959, Parti Negara Sarawak (Panas) on 9 April 1960 and Sarawak National Party (SNAP) on 10 April 1961. These older parties are formed for local council and district elections that started in 1959.
18 December: MSCC holds its second meeting in Kuching. Brunei attends only as observer.
20 December: The stand of Sarawak and Sabah shifts from opposition to bargaining on issues such as representation in parliament, freedom of religion, national language, civil service, immigration and economic development as stated in a press statement at the end of the MSCC meeting.
30 December: During a conference in Jakarta, Partai Komunis Indonesia (PKI), the third largest communist party in the world, condemns the formation of Malaysia as a British neo-colonist ploy.
4 January: British colonial government in Sarawak publishes a white paper on Sarawak’s consent for Malaysia and the establishment of an investigative commission proposed by the governments of Malaya and Britain on November 23, 1961. The White Paper is translated into local dialects and widely distributed in Sarawak.
8 January: MSCC holds its third meeting on constitution and politics in Kuala Lumpur. A decision is reached to produce all the proceedings for public consumption just as the British colonial government had done in Sarawak.
31 January: British colonial government in Sabah produces a white paper, similar to the one published in Sarawak. It is also translated into local languages and distributed widely.
1 February: MSCC holds its fourth and last meeting in Singapore.
3 February: All MSCC delegates sign a memorandum of proposals and recommendations which is then published in Sarawak and Sabah. The Cobbold Commission is set up to seek the views of the people of Sarawak and Sabah on the formation of Malaysia.
Members of the commission are Lord Cobbold (chairman), Sir Anthony Abell and Sir David Watheraton (British representatives) Dato Wong Pow and Ghazali Shafie (representatives of Malaya).
19 February: The Cobbold Commission arrives in Kuching to begin public hearings at 35 centres.
6 March: Deputy Prime Minister of Malaya, Tun Abdul Razak, said that at that time only Britain and the Philippines were involved in the territorial claims over Sabah.
17 April: The Cobbold Commission completes its task in Sarawak and flies to Jesselton to continue its investigations at 15 centres in Sabah.
24 April: The legislative assembly of the Philippines unanimously approve “Resolution No. 7 … the President of the Republic to take the necessary steps consistent with international law and procedure for the recovery of a certain portion of the Island of Borneo and adjacent islands which appertain to the Philippines”.
29 April: Sultan of Sulu hands over the rule of Sulu (which has never been colonised by Spain or the United States of America) to the Philippines until she was accepted as an independent sovereign country.
24 May: The British government sends a memorandum to the ruler of the Philippines on its claim to a part of Sabah. The other part was previously under the Brunei sultanate, particularly along the west coast.
22 June: The ruler of the Philippines sends a note to the British government on its claim over Sabah.
24 June: Donald Stephen, President United Kadazan Organisation (UNKO), says the people of Sabah challenge the claim by the Philippines.
27 June: Sarawak Chinese Association (SCA) Party formed.
July: The Cobbold Commission sends its report to the government of Malaya and Britain.
18 July: Sultan Omar Ali Saifudin, Sultan Brunei, declares that Brunei will join Malaysia separately from Sarawak and Sabah.
20 July: Parti Pesaka formed.
The ruler of the Philippines sends a note on its Sabah claim to the government of Malaya.
1 August: Negotiations on the Cobbold Report between Malaya led by Tunku Abdul Rahman and his colleague from Britain to announce the formation of the Federation of Malaysia on August 31, 1963 after it is approved by their respective legislatures.
30 August: Inter-Government Committee (IGC) holds a preparatory meeting in Jesselton, Sabah, and sets up its headquarters there.
Sabah political parties submit the Twenty Points claim to Deputy Prime Minister of the Federation of Malaya Tun Abdul Razak and Lord Landsowne in Jesselton.
12 September: The Sabah State Legislative Assembly unanimously approves the formation of the Federation of Malaysia and the establishment of the IGC.
26 September: The Sarawak State Legislative Assembly unanimously approves the formation of the Federation of Malaysia and the establishment of the IGC.
The Sabah Alliance is set up by Pasok Momogun, Sabah United Party, United Kadazan Organization (UNKO) and United Sabah National Organization (USNO).
September: Philippines Vice President, Emmanuel Paleaez, declares his country’s claims to a part of Sabah at the United Nations, New York.
16 October: Sabah Alliance declares the opposition of the people of Sabah on the claim of the Philippines.
December: Sabah Alliance wins the election with 131 out of 137 contested constituencies with a manifesto based on the Twenty Points.
8 December: Partai Rakyat Brunei causes a revolt in Brunei, Limbang, Lawas and Miri.
9 December: A M Azahari, Partai Rakyat Brunei chairman, announces the North Kalimantan Revolution Government while in exile in Manila. He is actually a citizen of Lebanon; his father had married the daughter of Hugh Low, the British Governor of Labuan, who had married a Sarawakian woman, Dayang Loyang.
20 December: IGC holds its last meeting in Kuala Lumpur. It had held 24 meetings in Kuching, Jeselton, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
5 January: Curfew from 6pm to 6am is enforced in Limbang.
8 January: The Governor declares as illegal the Sarawak Farmers’ Association, Kesatuan Rakyat Insaf Sarawak, Chung Hua Alumni Association Sibu, Tentera Nasional Kalimantan Utara, Angkatan Dosu Berantu and Angkatan Rakyat Anak Sabah.
28 January: British Foreign Secretary Lord Home and Philippines Vice President Emmanuel Palaez begins negotiations on claims over Sabah until February 1 with no results.
Diosado Macapagal, the President of the Philippines states for the first time his country’s opposition to the formation of Malaysia in his state-of-the-nation speech in the Philippines Congress.
11 February: Dr Subandario, Indonesia Foreign Minister, officially objects to the formation of Malaysia.
23 February: IGC submits Reports to the Governments of the Four Parties Concerned - Britain, Malaya, Sarawak and Sabah.
The IGC report is published.
8 March: Sarawak State Legislative Assembly unanimously adopts the recommendations in the IGC report.
13 March: Sabah State Legislative Assembly adopts recommendations in the IGC report.
April: Sarawak local council elections are held until June.
15 May: Third Rajah Sir Charles Vyner Brooke passes away in England.
31 May: Tunku Abdul Rahman, Prime Minister of Malaya and Sukarno, President of the Republic of Indonesia negotiate in Tokyo for an agreement on the formation of Malaysia and to stop Indonesia from sending her army into Sarawak and Sabah.
18 June: The Sarawak Flag will use the old flag with a crown in the centre.
19 June: The results of the election are announced - Alliance 78, Independent 67, SUPP 16 and Panas 11.
20 June: 31 Independent legislators join Alliance, bringing the tally to 119.
9 July: The Malaysia Agreement is reached by Britain, Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah. Brunei withdraws at the last moment. It is signed by Temenggong Jugah, Dato Bandar Abang Mustapa, Abang Openg, Ling Beng Siew and PEH Pike. From Sabah are Donald Stephens, Dato Mustapha, Khoo Siak Chiew, G S Sundang, WS Holley, and WKH Jones. From Singapore are Lee Kuan Yew, and the representatives of Malaya and Britain are Tunku Abdul Rahman and Harold Macmillan respectively.
19 July: British House of Commons approves the Malaysia Bill to enable Sarawak and Sabah to form Malaysia.
22 July: Stephen Kalong Ningkan chosen as the first Chief Minister of Sarawak along with the state’s first cabinet.
30 July: Tunku Abdul Rahman, Sukarno and Macapagal meet at the Manila Summit.
5 August: Manila Summit ends resulting in Manila Declaration in which the three countries agree to form a new confederation called Maphilindo (short for Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia). There is also a Manila Accord in which the three countries agree to work together in politics, economics, socially and culturally. Philippines and Indonesia request that the Secretary General of the United Nations get the views of the people of Sarawak and Sabah on the formation of Malaysia.
3 August: Governor Sir Alexander Waddel launches the 1962 uprising memorial for British commandos who were defeated in Limbang.
6 August: Teo Kui Seng, Natural Resources Minister, also the chairman of the Malaysia Day celebration, announces the programme.
8 August: Sabah Legislative Assembly unanimously passes the Merdeka motion to join Malaysia and also approves the Malaysia Agreement.
15 August: Parliament of the Federation of Malaysia approves the Malaysia Agreement.
16 August: United Nation Malaysia Mission (UNMM) arrives and carries out its task to get the opinion of the people of Sarawak and Sabah until September 5, 1963. Their arrival is also met with anti-Malaysia protestors at the Kuching Airport.
18 August: Indonesian soldiers and insurgents invade Sungai Bangkit in Song, resulting in a casualty.
19 August: Abdul Taib Mahmud, Communication and Works Minister, visits the headquarters of the Public Works Department in Kuching.
The merdeka celebration is postponed from August 31 to September 16.
26 August: Yang Di-Pertuan Agong of Malaya approves the Malaysian constitution.
27 August: Demonstrations against Malaysia in Sibu in connection with the arrival of the UNMM team.
29 August: Yang Di-Pertuan Agong signs the Malaysia Declaration, fixed on September 16, 1963.
Anti-Malaysia protest in Miri on the arrival of the UNMM team results in a clash with the police.
30 August: UNMM team arrives in Limbang, its last stop.
1 September: UNMM representative, Lawrence Michelmore, meets representatives from Alliance and SUPP at the State Legislative Assembly chambers.
4 September: Sarawak Legislative Assembly approves Malaysia motion with 38 votes for and five against. Stephen Kalong Ningkan tables the motion which states: “Be it resolved that this Council reaffirms its support for Malaysia, endorses the formal agreement which was signed in London on the 9th July and, while regretting that the Federation of Malaysia could not be brought into being on the 31st August, welcomes the decision to establish it on the 16th September, 1963.”
5 September: UNMM team leaves Sarawak.
11 September: Chief Minister, Stephen Kalong Ningkan, and three ministers as well as 10 members of the Alliance fly to Kuala Lumpur to meet the Prime Minister and the Secretary of the Colony of Britain, Duncan Sandys.
13 September: UNMM presents its report.
“The Mission is satisfied that through its hearings it was able to reach a cross-section of the population in all walks of life and that the expressions of opinion that it heard represent the views of a sizeable majority of the population. The Mission is convinced that the time devoted to hearings and the number of localities visited was adequate and enabled it to fully carry out its terms of references.”
Sir Alexander Waddell announces that Datu Abang Openg is appointed by the Yang Di-Pertuan as the first Yang Di-Pertua of Sarawak beginning from Malaysia Day.
Temenggong Jugah Barieng is appointed to the Federal Cabinet as the Sarawak Affairs Minister.
14 September: Duncan Sandys arrives in Kuching for a brief visit.
15 September: Dr M Sockalingam is appointed as the Speaker of the Sarawak Dewan Undangan Negeri.
British colonial Governor, Sir Alexander Waddell, and wife leave Astana, the official Brooke residence and that of British governors since 1870, at exactly 12.30pm.
16 September: Tun Abang Openg is sworn in as the first Yang Di-Pertua Negeri Sarawak.
Prime Minister of Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman reads the Proclamation of Malaysia in front of the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, Raja-Raja Melayu and thousands of citizens at Stadium Merdeka to mark the birth of a new country named, the Federation of Malaysia. He says: “The great day we have long awaited has come at last - the birth of Malaysia. In a warm spirit of joy and hope ten million people of many races in all the states of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah now join hands in freedom and joy.”
Khir Johari reads Proclamation of Malaysia as the representative of the Prime Minister to mark the independence of Sarawak in the presence of Tuan Yang Terutama Tun Abang Openg, Chief Minister Datuk Stephen Kalong Ningkan, the State Cabinet and the people at Padang Sentral (now Padang Merdeka), Kuching, and in all divisions of Sarawak.
(Chronology is translated from the official 45th anniversary souvenir book, ‘Perayaan 45 Tahun Sarawak Maju Dalam Malaysia, 1963 - 2008).
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This post reflects the important dates for the independence of Sarawak. Yes, Sarawak Independence.