KUCHING: Sarawakians are urged wear red on Sarawak Day on July 22 as a sign of their solidarity with the government under Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Abang Openg, said Sarawak For Sarawakians (S4S) spokesman Peter John today.
“We can wear red when going to coffeeshops, when we want to go shopping and even going to our kebun,” he said to reporters at a press conference.
Peter said over the last three years positive steps, from the establishment of a Sarawak-based taskforce, stateless issue, to the announcement of the London mission to examine the state’s legal position under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 to even the celebration of July 22 as a public holiday.
“Sarawakians cannot afford to take this for granted. The fight for full recognition of our rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 is still at the beginning and there is much distance to cover,” said Peter.
He also said Sarawak still faces problems with finance from the Federal Government, from oil revenues to tourism tax to stamp duty.
“We still face attacks on our religious freedoms in the spectre of Hudud law, our cultural uniqueness is still being ignored in the recent announcement that police officers will be banned from having tattoos,” said Peter.
Peter pointed that Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg has taken on the mantle of the late Tan Sri Adenan Satem as they both have created an atmosphere in which Sarawakians can openly consider their position in Malaysia today.
“We have been given an example of what is possible when the state is given charge of its own issues of statelessness as the taskforce under Datuk Fatimah Abdullah actively seeks to redress the long-term stateless in Sarawak and especially, the stateless children.
“We have seen our representatives, like Datuk Abang Abdul Karim Hamzah, stand up for our rights and bravely face up to abuse from Federal Ministers on our behalf.
“We should indeed give thanks for this. But the progress so far is largely in ideals and the concrete gains are yet to come,” Peter said.
He said the issues of statelessness persist in Sarawak, caused by a lack of understanding of the geographical and social circumstances in our state and the importance and legal standing of our Adat.
He added the statelessness taskforce must become a permanent division within National Registration Department and Sarawak must have an active role in creating national policy on citizenship that takes into account our history and specific challenges.
He said that the state government is not properly consulted on taxation decisions that affect Sarawak citizens and still does not receive its fair share of the income.
“When a tourism tax is passed by the Federal government, albeit one with minority representation from Sarawak, it becomes clear that the state’s tourism players have not been consulted on its implementation and timetable or even informed as to its distribution.
“Even worse, when an esteemed Minister of Tourism from Sarawak dares to raise a query, he is treated with contempt unfit for a person of high office,” he said.
S4S and Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA) will be holding a public gathering at the Museum Garden, starting at 8.30am, on July 22 to celebrate the historic event. – dayakdaily.com