Sarawak Independence Day in Malaysia Date in the current year: July 22, 2022

Sarawak Independence Day in Malaysia Sarawak Independence Day (Hari Kemerdekaan Sarawak), also known as simply Sarawak Day (Hari Sarawak), is an official holiday in the Malaysian state of Sarawak. It is observed annually on July 22 to commemorate the day when Sarawak was granted self-government and became de facto independent from the United Kingdom.

Sarawak is the largest state of Malaysia. Located in northwest Borneo, its area is almost equal to that of Peninsular Malaysia, which consists of 11 states and two federal territories.

Although Sarawak was an independent sultanate for a short period of time (from 1599 to 1641), it was under the influence of foreign powers for a major part of its history. The Empire of Brunei was established in the region in the mid-15th century and controlled it until 1599 and then from 1641 to 1841. After that, Sarawak was ruled by the Brooke family and then by the British Crown.

British soldier and adventurer James Brooke arrived in Borneo in 1838, amid an uprising of local tribes against the Sultan of Brunei. Brooke offered the Sultan military aid and in exchange was rewarded governorship of Sarawak. He officially became the Raja of Sarawak in 1841.

After that the Brook family, also known as the White Rajas, ruled Sarawak until its occupation by Japan in 1941. Although in 1888 Sarawak became a British protectorate, the Brooke family retained administrative powers, and Britain only handled Sarawak’s foreign affairs.

Shortly after the centenary celebration of the White Raja dynasty in 1941, Sarawak was occupied by the Imperial Japanese Army. The occupation ended after the capitulation of Japan in August 1945, and Borneo was administered by the British Military Administration from September 1945 to April 1946.

Since Charles Vyner Brooke, the third Raja of Sarawak, lacked the resources to rebuild the raj after the war, he ceded Sarawak to the British Crown. On July 1, 1946, Sarawak officially became a British Crown Colony.

In 1961, the prime minister of the Federation of Malaya announced a plan to expand the federation by letting Brunei, North Borneo (now Sabah), Singapore and Sarawak join. Five political parties of Sarawak supported the plan. On July 22, 1963, Britain officially granted Sarawak self-governance (and de facto independence) so that it could join the federation.

The idea of celebrating Sarawak Independence Day was first voiced in the early 2010s. Its proponents claimed that Hari Merdeka (Malaysia’s National Day) had no relevance to Sarawak’s history, since Sarawak joined the Federation of Malaya almost six years after the adoption of the Malayan Declaration of Independence.

The state government officially declared Sarawak Independence Day a public holiday in 2016. Some people argue that the name isn’t historically accurate, since Sarawak didn’t gain full independence. Because of this, Sarawak Independence Day has an alternative name, Sarawak Day.

Sarawak Day isn’t the only state holiday celebrated in Sarawak. For example, the official birthday of the governor of Sarawak is observed annually on the second Sunday of October.

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Category

Anniversaries and Memorial Days

Country

Malaysia

Tags

Sarawak Independence Day in Malaysia, holidays in Malaysia, holidays in Sarawak, state holidays in Malaysia, Sarawak Day