KUCHING, Sept 3 — Civil movement Sarawak For Sarawakians (S4S) told off state Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah today for linking the flying of Sarawak’s colonial-era flag on shophouses along Padungan street to last week’s National Day’s celebration.
Its spokesman Tan Kok Chiang said the flags have been flown on the shophouses since July 22, which marks Sarawak Independence Day.
“The flying of the crown flag has nothing to do with Merdeka Day on August 31 as claimed by Karim,” he explained, insisting that August 31 was meant for the peninsula’s independence and had nothing to do with Sarawak.
“We have not taken down the flags because we want to remind the people that Sarawak is a country of equal status to Malaya, but its rights have been surrendered to the federal government.
“What we want is for all those rights under the Malaysia Agreement, like oil and gas, education and health, to be given back to us,” he said in response to Karim’s complaint yesterday.
Tan said what S4S is fighting for over the years was also championed by former chief minister the late Tan Sri Adenan Satem and his successor Datuk Abang Johari Openg.
“So why is Karim complaining about us flying our old flag?” he asked, adding that he has not heard of any complaint from the people residing in Padungan about the flag.
Tan said S4S members are as patriotic as any Sarawakians, contrary to Karim’s complaints.
At the closing of the Samarahan District Merdeka community programme yesterday, Karim criticised Sarawakians who flew the state’s old colonial flag, branding them unpatriotic.
Karim said Sarawakians, including political leaders, should respect and accept August 31 as a symbolic day of independence for Malaysia including Sarawak.
He said although Sarawak only joined Malaysia on September 16, it had been agreed upon by Sarawak leaders during that time that August 31 is the independence day of Malaysia as a whole.