KUCHING: It is erroneous to think that July 22 is Sarawak’s Independence Day, said Sarawak Malay Graduates Association (SMGA) president Datu Dr Sanib Said.

“There have been factual errors and misleading assumptions concerning this date, particularly in newspapers and social media by some quarters.

“July 22 was just the beginning of a process towards independence. We achieved independence from the British for a few hours only on September 15, 1963, when the colonial governor Sir Alexander Waddell left for Britain.

“The next day, Datuk Abang Openg Sapiee was proclaimed as governor and at the same time, we formed Malaysia and our independence continued. It is on September 16 that Sarawak became independent in Malaysia,” he told reporters after a pantomime titled ‘Steps Towards Independence of Sarawak’ at the Kuching Waterfront yesterday.

Sanib, who is a historian, said he has done many studies on this period and believed that there is a need for people to know the background of July 22.

“July 22 was when the governor proclaimed the appointment of Tan Sri Stephen Kalong Ningkan as the chief minister and new Supreme Council members who formed the first ministerial cabinet in Sarawak.

“We were not independent yet because some powers were still with the colonial governor and the Queen in London.

“July 22 marks the process of becoming independent. All colonies under British government must go through similar process. It was to train local people to run the country,” he said.

The pantomime was organised by SMGA and the Malay Cultural Foundation Charitable Trust to re-enact important scenes in the history of Sarawak leading to independence, provided Sarawak participate in the formation of Malaysia.

The event drew a small crowd of mostly curious onlookers to the open space near Square Tower.

A shop owner from nearby Gambier Street who only wanted to be identified as Mark said the pantomime should have been held on a proper stage to make it attractive.

“It was done in the hot sun and the scenes were very hurried. I guess because the actors are not very comfortable in the sun.

“Also, it could have been done as part of the official celebration of July 22 instead of being a separate event. It is really just a retelling of what we knew from our history textbooks,” he opined.

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