Sarawak Day – July 22, 2023

Sarawak Day is celebrated on July 22 by the state of Sarawak in Malaysia. It marks the anniversary of the Raj of Sarawak establishing self-governance and statehood in 1963. Sarawak Day was announced as a public holiday in 2016 to celebrate and raise awareness about the state’s past. While there have been attempts to falsify Sarawak’s history for political gain, the state achieved independence from the British on July 22, 1963, while being a member of the Malaysian Federation. This day is a marker of sovereignty and the importance of self-governance to a long-oppressed people.

History of Sarawak Day

In 1841, the Sultanate of Brunei passed on power over the Raj of Sarawak to the British Brooke Dynasty. Sarawak was recognized as a sovereign nation by the United States and the British, becoming a British protectorate. Towards the end of the Second World War, Sarawak was administered by the British Military for a short period before becoming a full-fledged Crown Colony in 1946. Sarawak was then handed over to the British Crown by the Brookes. This transfer, and resulting demotion to the state of a colony, was met by major protests from the Sarawakian people, who demanded independence. Rosli Dhobi, a revolutionary, subsequently assassinated the second governor of Sarawak, Duncan Stewart. Dhobi was tried and hanged for the act. Stewart was succeeded by Anthony Abell.

The Cobbold Commission, of which Abell was a part, eventually granted Sarawak de facto statehood on the condition that the state should join the Federation of Malaysia in September 1963. Before leaving the state, Alexander Waddel, the Governor of the state, handed power over to the first Sarawakian Chief Minister, Stephen Kalong Ningkan, along with the new members of the Supreme Council.

In 2016, July 22 was officially announced as a public holiday, known as ‘Sarawak Independence Day,’ under the purview of Chief Minister Adenan Satem. Today, the holiday is a reminder of Sarawak’s long-standing brush with the British and the eventual attainment of its own statehood.

Sarawak Day timeline

1841
Passed to the Brooke Dynasty

The Raj of Sarawak is passed over to the Brooke Dynasty.

1946
British Colony

Sarawak is made a British colony.

July 22, 1963
Independence

Sarawak gains independence and de facto statehood.

2016
Public Holiday

Sarawak Independence Day is announced as a public holiday.

Sarawak Day FAQs

Why is Sarawak famous?

Among other aspects, like culture and history, Sarawak is famous for its abundant natural resources.

Is Sarawak a country?

No, Sarawak isn’t a country, it is a state of Malaysia located in the northwest Borneo Island.

Is Brunei part of Malaysia?

No, it has always been an independent nation. The country is the only sovereign state entirely on Borneo Island.

How to Observe Sarawak Day

  1. Read about Sarawakian history

    Sarawak has a history of colonialism and a struggle for statehood. Spend the day reading about them.

  2. Read about British imperialism

    British imperialism had a drastic impact on people across the globe. Read about it to understand the true extent of the repercussions people are still dealing with.

  3. Visit Sarawak

    Sarawak is in Malaysia. If it’s within your means, visit the state.

5 Interesting Facts About Sarawak

  1. Climate

    Sarawak has an equatorial climate

  2. Hornbills

    Sarawak is home to eight species of hornbill.

  3. Size

    Sarawak is the largest state in Malaysia,

  4. Official languages

    The official languages of Sarawak are English and Malay.

  5. Capital city

    The capital city is called Kuching.

Why Sarawak Day is Important

  1. It highlights an important part of the state’s history

    Sarawak Day is a reminder of its people’s struggle for sovereignty. It is important to never forget that.

  2. It highlights how recent colonialism was

    Colonialism may sound like a relic of days gone but many people in the Global South still suffer from its very recent existence. That is very important to remember.

  3. It celebrates the aspirations of a people

    Sarawak Independence Day celebrates the realization of the aspirations of a future. We think that it is a perfect opportunity for festivities.

Sarawak Day dates

YearDateDay
2023July 22Saturday
2024July 22Monday
2025July 22Tuesday
2026July 22Wednesday
2027July 22Thursday

Holidays Straight to Your Inbox

Every day is a holiday!
Receive fresh holidays directly to your inbox.