KUCHING: As Sarawak kicked off its ruby jubilee celebrations in a colourful ceremony, it also paid tribute to former leaders who fought for the state’s independence. Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said these leaders had made sacrifices in their struggles to help Sarawak gain self-rule.
“Because of their contributions, we have a good political system and development today,” he added when launching the year-long celebrations at the state indoor stadium in Petra Jaya here on Saturday night.
Some 5,000 people witnessed the ceremony as Taib shot an arrow to unveil the celebration logo amid a simultaneous burst of pyrotechnics. The ruby jubilee song was then sung for the first time.
Taib also commended grassroots leaders, like village headmen and community chiefs, and other leaders for their role and contributions in forging racial harmony and unity among the races.
Sarawak gained her independence on July 22, 1963 and the late Stephen Kalong Ningkan was appointed the first chief minister.
The state ceased to be a British colony and became part of Malaysia on Sept 16 that year.
Earlier, organising chairman and deputy state secretary Datuk Salleh Sulaiman said some 180 international, national and state events had been lined up for the ruby jubilee event.
He said the celebration’s highlight on July 22 would feature a fireworks display and river float parade along Sarawak River, a mass rally, a special session for the state legislature and the opening of the state tourism complex.
Salleh said the national-level Gawai Dayak Open House would be held in Sibu on June 4, and Hari Raya Open House here on Dec 16.
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