Sibu’s little known Rumah Malaysia marks confluence of Sarawak and Malaysia’s future

Rumah Malaysia in Sibu, where the seeds of nationalism were first sown.

SIBU, July 15: It is apt that Sibu has been chosen to host this year’s national Malaysia Day celebration on Sept 16, given that seeds of the country’s nascent nationalism were sown there some six decades ago.

Rumah Malaysia which is located at No. 25 Jalan Lanang marks the point where Sarawak’s future and Malaysia’s future would meet.

At the time, Rumah Malaysia was the residence of the late Tan Sri Ling Beng Siew, the then Sarawak Chinese Association (SCA) president. He had built it in the 1960s.

It was in this house in July 1963 that Ling invited his colleagues, who were political leaders from various races in the Sarawak Alliance (SA) under the chairmanship of the late Tun Temenggong Jugah Barieng, for a crucial meeting to determine whether Sarawak should remain a British colony or help form Malaysia as a sovereign and independent nation.

These political leaders were from Sarawak National Party (Snap), Parti Negara Sarawak (Panas), Barisan Rakyat Jati Sarawak (Barjasa), SCA and Parti Pesaka Anak Sarawak (Pesaka).

Sarawak chose independence through Malaysia.

Chu Hung Sheng, who edited the book ‘Rumah Malaysia’, attributed this to Ling’s foresight as he recognised the importance of helping to form Malaysia to ensure Sarawak’s political stability amidst the then troubled times in South-East Asia.

Sarawak’s fourth chief minister, Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud had on Aug 29, 1983, declared the house as a historical site and named it Rumah Malaysia during the state’s 20th Merdeka celebration through Malaysia.

The official naming of this particular building, as Chu put it, was “a befitting gesture in recognition of its significance in the political history of Sarawak and a great honour to its owner, Tan Sri Ling Beng Siew.”

About 500 distinguished guests, including the then Communications and Works Minister Tan Sri Dr Wong Soon Kai, and Sarawak’s first Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Stephen Kalong Ningkan, were present at the ceremony.

Taib in his speech that night said it was a very important event as it was a night Sarawakians saw themselves from the historical perspective of the state.

He revealed he would like Rumah Malaysia to be an inspiration to the younger generation, to refine the concept of the sharing of power to ensure that there would be effective participation from the Chinese, Iban, Malay, Melanau, Kayan, Kenyah and all others in the country so that the Sarawak that they loved would serve to benefit all.

Meanwhile, locals are elated that Sibu town would be hosting this year’s national celebration as it is a meaningful event with a rich historical background.

Mohd Sapree Madsaf noted that choosing Sibu as the host “is a good news for people in Sibu.”

“It has been a long time since Sibu hosted a mammoth event. This can be a way to also promote the town to outsiders,” he said.

Sapree however urged people to exercise caution when celebrating the event as the dangers posed by Covid-19 is still present.

“I hope that by September, the situation will improve. Its time to wake up (sic) Sibu back. Whatever it is, I hope the people will also take care of their health while celebrating this national event,” he added.

Teacher David Fabian Libau was thankful to the government for holding the event here.

“I am very proud that Sibu has been selected to organise the event. As Covid-19 is still in our midst, let’s fight the disease together by following guidelines in the SOP set by the government,” he urged.

This will mark the second time in a row that the state is playing host to the national event, with last year’s event held in Kuching. — DayakDaily