PBDSB leader echoes Masing’s call to Sarawakians not to celebrate on Aug 31

Silvia John

KUCHING, August 16: Another political party has come forward to urge the state government not to celebrate National Day on Aug 31 as this could mislead the younger generation of Sarawakians.

Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak Baru (PBDSB) Women chief Silvia John said celebrating Malaysia’s 61st Independence Day on Aug 31 was wrong because Sarawak had only been part of the Federation of Malaysia for 55 years.

“Even in schools, the history of Sarawak being in Malaysia and the significance of its (Malaysia) independence day being taught was already misleading until this very day,” she said.

Two days ago, Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing said Aug 31 was actually “Malaya’s Independence Day” and that Sarawak should be celebrating on July 22 instead as that was the day the state was accorded self-governance.

Silvia claimed that nowadays Sarawakians had become more aware of how the nation came into being. She said PBDSB was baffled why the state government continued to spend millions of ringgit to celebrate Aug 31 year in and year out.

“Ever since the awareness of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) is being widely spread by Sarawak For Sarawakians (S4S) group and had well been acknowledged with full recognition by the previous chief minister, the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem, Sarawakians’ knowledge of the genuine history has begun with a new page, especially on the issue of Sarawak’s autonomous rights that was supposed to be restored after the emergency proclamations were (over) in Nov 2011,” she said.

She pointed out that Adenan had also declared July 22 as Sarawak Day in 2015.

Silvia said Masing was right to suggest to Sarawakians not to celebrate Aug 31 as it had nothing to do with the state, but she questioned Masing’s sincerity in making the call.

“Why does Masing suddenly have the guts to speak of it now but not during their glorious Barisan (BN) days? Why didn’t PRS speak of it from Nov 2011 onwards during their BN days? All of a sudden, being part of the newly formed coalition Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), it seems the coalition has finally given them the boldness and bravery to speak like Sarawakians.

“Why (did they) not act like a genuine Sarawak coalition during their BN days before? What is the significance of doing it now?” she asked.

Silvia also took a swipe at Pakatan Harapan (PH) Sarawak and its chairman, Chong Chieng Jen. Citing a statement allegedly made by Chong in Sept 2016, Silvia said Chong had then called on the state government to stand up against Umno, to stop the Aug 31 celebration in Sarawak and to confine Sarawak’s official state celebrations to July 22 and Sept 16.

“PBDSB would like to ask Chong why he did not continue to pursue this matter since he is now a Member of Parliament of the current government. Why is he being silent about the whole ordeal? Shouldn’t he find the means to fulfil his tasks to stop the Aug 31 celebrations in Sarawak?” asked Silvia.

In stressing that Sarawak’s autonomous rights need to be restored, she said, “This is the time and opportunity for all Sarawakians to see and review the sincerity of all promises from all parties, whether it is genuinely for Sarawakians or just for mere political survival and mileage instead.”