KUCHING: Hundreds of people yesterday had a glimpse of a historic event which took place here on July 22, 1963.
Sarawak gained independence from the British colonialists on that day, and a special pantomime was held at the Kuching Waterfront to re-enact that special moment which happened exactly 50 years ago.
The pantomime was titled Sarawak Independence Day from Colonisation and it was well acted out by a number of performers.
The day also saw the launching of the ‘Sarawak Gemilang 50 Tahun’ exhibition at the Sarawak Tourism Complex.
Present to witness the spectacle were Head of State Tun Datuk Patinggi Abang Muhammad Salahuddin and his wife Toh Puan Datuk Patinggi Norkiah, Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and wife Puan Sri Ragad Kurdi Taib, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang and State Legislative Speaker Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar.
Those present were held spellbound as the actors and actresses re-enacted important milestones that led to the state’s independence and formation of Malaysia.
There was a scene showing the last British Governor of Sarawak, Sir Alexander Waddel, on a boat with his wife. They were escorted by several gaily decorated boats from the Astana to Pengkalan Batu for the farewell ceremony.
Waddel and his wife were received by Governor-elect Datu Abang Openg and Chief Minister Stephen Kalong Ningkan, cabinet ministers and high-ranking officials.
After the Union Jack was lowered and the state flag raised, Waddel and wife left the state on a Loch Killisport boat. Their departure ended British colonial rule in the state.
Also re-enacted was the swearing-in of the pioneer batch of State Cabinet Ministers, comprising Ningkan, Deputy Chief Minister James Wong, Works and Communications Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud, Local Government Minister Dunstan Endawai, Natural Resources Minister Teo Kui Seng and State Minister Awang Hipni Pengiran Anu.
In his welcoming speech yesterday, Second Resource Planning and Environment Minister Datuk Awang Tengah Ali Hassan, who is the minister-in-charge of the commemoration ceremony, said the Golden Jubilee Celebration of Sarawak Independence in Malaysia was a once-in-a-lifetime event, and the exhibition was well timed.
“Among others, the exhibition is intended to show developments implemented by the government since the proclamation of the state’s independence from the British on July 22, 1963,” he said.
Awang Tengah added that July 22, 1963 had a special place in the hearts of all Sarawakians, and the events held yesterday were appropriate as the state wanted its younger generation to understand the sacrifices and struggles of the warriors and leaders in the past 50 years to develop the state to what it is today.
“The state cabinet at that time was led by Datuk Stephen Kalong Ningkan as the state first chief minister. There were five other elected representatives who were elected cabinet ministers.
“The formation of a state cabinet enabled Sarawak to form a self government. This is the historic moment which brought about the independence of Sarawak.”
After 50 years, he said only one from the first batch of state cabinet ministers is left — Taib.
“He (Taib) is not only a witness to the history, but is also the creator of the outstanding history of Sarawak for the past 50 years. The chief minister has contributed a lot to the state and country in all aspects.” - theborneopost