Premier: Sarawakians not lacking patriotism despite demanding rights, privileges be respected, recognised

The peak of the State-Level National Day celebration in Betong.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Aug 31: There is no lack of patriotism and national spirit in Sarawak despite Sarawakians’ demand for the rights and privileges of Sarawak to be respected and recognised by the federal government.

Highlighting this in his National Day message, Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg pointed out that Sarawakian athletes like diving queen Datuk Pandelela Rinong Pamg and powerlifter Bonnie Bunyau Gustin gave their all and fought hard so that the national anthem ‘Negaraku’ could resonate in international arenas and bring glory to the nation.

“Likewise, Sarawakians are swelling with pride when national badminton doubles pair Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik won Malaysia’s first badminton World Championships in Tokyo three days ago,” he said when addressing the Sarawak-Level National Day celebration officiated at by Head of State Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud at Tan Sri Datuk Amar Stephen Kalong Ningkan Sports Hall in Betong here today.

Taib placing the Malaysian flag on a hand sculpture to mark the State-Level National Day celebration witnessed by (from left) Uggah, Abang Johari and Julaihi. Photo credit: Sarawak Public Communications Unit (Ukas)

With that, Abang Johari emphasised that it is crucial that the privileges and rights of Sarawak are not questioned but steps taken to respect what have been agreed upon by previous leaders.

“As we all know, this country was formed when three regions (Malaya, Sarawak and Sabah) agreed to merge into one country based on the Malaysian Agreement 1963 (MA63) and Inter-Governmental Committee Report (IGC) which gave privileges to the regions of Sarawak and Sabah.

“Following 59 years after the formation of Malaysia, it is important for all Malaysians to understand the concept of ‘federation’ and uphold a high spirit of nationalism,” he added.

As part of the Federation of Malaysia, Abang Johari acknowledged, there is the need to accept that there are Federal powers, State powers and rights as well as concurrent powers.

However, he said most importantly, there must be a form of cooperation and collaboration between the Federal and State governments so that development can be carried out smoothly, without which people will be on the losing end such as what happened during the 22 months under the Pakatan Harapan (PH) rule.

“Recently, I have received visits from several federal ministers. I welcomed them with an open heart to cooperate for the benefit of Sarawak and the country as a whole,” he added.

The honour guards raising the Jalur Gemilang.

Earlier, Minister of Utility and Telecommunications cum the minister-in-charge of the Sarawak National Day Celebration 2022 Datuk Julaihi Narawi said that this celebration aims to raise awareness as well as instill the spirit of patriotism and love for the country.

“The flying of the Jalur Gemilang is not only for symbolism, but all citizens must have in them a high sense of belonging because this country belongs to all of us who have come together in building a unified plural society.

“The spirit and value of patriotism must be embraced by all levels of society, especially the young generation. It must be nurtured from a young age so that when they grow up, it will become their core identity and in turn produce a productive generation who will determine the future of the country,” he said.

Independence, Julaihi emphasised, is the starting point to strengthen the dignity of the people and the country as well as achieving bigger dreams across religion, race, ethnicity and even social background.

“As citizens of Malaysia, we should uphold this spirit and the young generation should have high determination to continue carrying on this responsibility and trust to ensure an inclusive Kuluarga Malaysia can be sustained,” he added.

Meanwhile, today’s National Day celebration in Betong, themed “Keluarga Malaysia Teguh Bersama”, also witnessed the flying of the ‘Jalur Gemilang’ as well as a variety of performances that showcased the unity and diversity of Sarawak and in remembrance of Aug 31.

Deputies Premier Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas and Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, Cabinet ministers, elected representatives and community leaders were among those present. — DayakDaily

State dignitaries at the main table and other guests stand for the marching-in of guards bearing the Jalur Gemilang. Photo credit: Sarawak Public Communications Unit (Ukas)