Aspirasi reiterates demand for independence referendum

Soo speaking during the press conference at Kuching Waterfront.

KUCHING, July 22: As Sarawakians celebrates Sarawak Independence Day today, Aspirasi is hopeful that its three demands can be met this year.

Speaking to reporters amidst a strong police presence at the Kuching Waterfront this morning, Sarawak People’s Aspiration Party (Aspirasi) president Lina Soo insisted that an independence referendum be held for Sarawak.

This, she said, is to be voted upon by every adult Sarawakian above the age of 18.

She highlighted that every Sarawakian has the inalienable right to self-determination as codified in UN Charter Article 1.2 which states “respect for the principle of equal rights and self determination of people”, and UN International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights Article 1.1 that states “all peoples have the right of self determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”

“After 57 years of federalism, Sarawak remains the richest state but with the most number of divisions and the highest incidence of poverty in the whole of Malaysia.

“What has this Federation of Malaysia brought for us? In 1962, they promised us prosperity. Back then, we do not owe any country monies or debts. But today, we are not only the poorest state, we contribute the most wealth for federal (sic),” Soo said, adding that this should not have happened, and that Sarawakians have the right to whether decide to remain in a state of destitution and perpetual hardship or seek to change their fate and destiny for the better.

Aspirasi’s second demand is that the notification cited Sarawak Independence Day as a public holiday as published in the Sarawak government gazette part II vol LXX1 No. 38 dated May 20, 2016 shall remain intact.

“This shall be irrevocable and any attempt to delete the word ‘Independence’ from the gazetted notification shall be strongly opposed by the people of Sarawak.

Soo cited that there were some billboards in the city that stated Sarawak Day instead of Sarawak Independence Day, and therefore reminded the state government of the word “Independence” which they must put it back because it is gazetted.

At the press conference, Soo and members of Aspirasi had wanted to display the Sarawak crown flag but they were warned not to do so by the police.

About 100 police personnel were also at the venue, giving Soo and her members several warnings not to hold any gathering or raise any flags.

However, after the press conference, police allowed Aspirasi to take a group photo without the flag, while practising social distancing.

Soo (centre in red shirt) and members of Aspirasi at Kuching Waterfront.

Explaining the importance of the Sarawak crown flag, Soo said: “When Datuk Stephen Kalong Ningkan was appointed the first Sarawak Chief Minister on 22nd July 1963, the crown flag was officially flown that day. It was used from 1946 until 1973, meaning it has been proudly flown for 27 years.

“We are very upset that many of us Sarawakians are not allowed to fly the crown flag, in fact, it was confiscated. I would like to ask, under what law that we are not allowed to fly or use this flag, when we have used it for 27 years?

“Those who do not recognise this crown flag as our historical flag that was flown on 22 July 1963 are denying our history and the first chief minister of Sarawak,” Soo asserted.

As for Aspirasi’s third demand, Soo urged the Sarawak government to award the posthumous title of Tun to Ningkan.

“There is no merit to say that only a Sarawak governor can become a Tun while Tun Jugah was awarded the title when he never became governor. Therefore it is not too late to give Ningkan the posthumous Tun title,” she asserted. — DayakDaily