Reclaiming Sarawak’s rights: You can count on the Chinese for support, NGO assures Abang Jo

Wee (seventh from right) presents a Chinese calligraphy piece as a souvenir to Abang Johari.

– by Karen Bong

KUCHING, Oct 11: The Chinese community has pledged its undivided support for Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg and the state government in the fight to reclaim the autonomy and rights of Sarawak.

Federation of Chinese Associations of Kuching, Samarahan and Serian Divisions president Dato Richard Wee is confident all Sarawakians are as determined as Abang Johari in his “steadfast and resolute quest” in this great cause for the state.

“All of us, as Sarawakians, will continue to respect and celebrate our unique Sarawak heritage that we are all so proud of. This uniqueness is the envy of many of our fellow Malaysians in other parts of Malaysia.

“As Sarawakians, it is our duty and responsibility to preserve our Sarawak culture and protect our Sarawak rights,” he said at the closing of the Chinese Cultural Symposium, which was officiated at by Abang Johari at Thian Court in Crown Square here today.

Wee told those present that the federation would be organising a series of talks, dialogues and seminars on the subject of Sarawak’s autonomy and rights for both its members and the public.

“This is an awareness campaign for all Sarawakians, young and old, to better understand the background and history of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and the important role that Sarawak has played in the formation of Malaysia,” he explained.

On the symposium, Wee said it was organised in preparation for the Sarawak Cultural Symposium, a major cultural event organised by the Sarawak government once every five years, next month.

Highlighting some of the resolutions achieved from the symposium, Wee said they were all meant to further solidify the deep-rooted unique Sarawak way of life and its heritage as well as to improve the livelihood of Sarawakians through a caring society and people-centric policies of the government.

From the cultural aspect, the federation has proposed to organise a ‘722 Unity Night’ annually by each major ethnic group on a rotational basis to foster connectedness and strengthen interactions among all races.

“We also want to encourage local scholars and researchers to intensify cultural studies and (look into the) history of all races, to feature the harmonious relationship between all races in the Sarawak Cultural Village and Sarawak Museum, and to provide viable Internet connectivity for cultural promotion.

“The Federation also suggests the formation of an agency similar to the ‘Borneo Cultural Bureau’, formerly used to translate and publish research papers as well as standardising translation on specific terminologies or names.

“Other key points include English to remain as second official language and at the same time to preserve and develop the mother tongue of all races,” he added.

On the socio-economic aspect, Wee said the federation called for the implementation of policies for the immediate benefit of the common people, like converting leasehold land for residential purpose to freehold with affordable fees and to provide subsidies and/or free health and medical care to all Sarawakians regardless of race.

“The government departments and agencies must improve on their efficiency and effectiveness and cultivate transparency in handling any applications from the public,” he pointed out.

All the resolutions have been compiled in a memorandum that was handed over to Abang Johari at the ceremony.

“We hope that these resolutions will be incorporated in the agenda of the Sarawak Cultural Symposium in November this year.

“We applaud the initiative of our Sarawak government for organising this cultural symposium as this continuous effort will further propagate the harmonious culture of Sarawak,” he reckoned.

Among those present were Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, Minister of Local Government and Housing Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian, Minister of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah, Assistant Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Lee Kim Shin, Temenggong Tan Joo Phoi, organising committee chairman Pemanca Ko Wai Neng and Chinese community leaders. — DayakDaily