Sarawak walk to go ahead, organisers say

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysian police have urged organisers to call off a planned walk in Kuching today to commemorate the anniversary of Sarawak's independence, as it may be used by some to push for the state's secession from Malaysia.

Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said they had received information that certain individuals planned to use the "Sarawak For Sarawakians" walk as a platform to provoke others to seek the state's secession.

"These actions are also against the Federal Constitution. Police will not hesitate to use all available laws against the organisers in order to maintain public order and uphold the sovereignty of Malaysia," Tan Sri Khalid was quoted as saying yesterday by The Star.

But the event's organising chairman Peter John Jaban said they would proceed as planned, The Malaysian Insider website said.

"We totally deny those claims (of calling for secession). We have met the police many times on this and we had given our assurance that this gathering would not be a political event, except maybe to ask Putrajaya to give us what is rightfully Sarawak's, like the oil and gas royalties," Mr Jaban said.

Participants from political parties were told by organisers they can march, but without any party symbol or logo.

Steps have been taken to prevent the gathering from turning political. Mr Jaban said police will help facilitate the walk, along with about 100 Rela or People's Volunteer Corps personnel.

To expose anyone who might attempt to create trouble, they have told participants to immediately link arms with their friends and sit down when they encounter people who behave provocatively.

Sarawak is marking its 52nd year of independence from Britain, when the last colonial governor, Alexander Waddell, handed authority over to chief minister Stephen Kalong Ningkan.

An official ceremony by the state government will be held on the parade grounds of the Sarawak legislative assembly in Petra Jaya, with Governor Abdul Taib Mahmud and Chief Minister Adenan Satem attending, the Insider said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2015, with the headline 'Sarawak walk to go ahead, organisers say'. Print Edition | Subscribe