Pastor Matthew is a member of the leadership team at Kuching Minister Fellowship.
As Sarawakians, we must know our rights as citizens of this country and in particular under what circumstances Sarawak came to join Malaysia in the Federation. It is important to note that Sarawak and Sabah joined as equal partners.
Genesis 4:9 – When God asked Cain where was Abel. Cain answered whether he was his brother’s keeper. From here we gathered that his answer was:
a) I don’t know
b) I don’t care.
Therefore, in terms of Sarawak are we to answer like Abel?
From one man God created nations and He determined where we should stay. Similarly the people of Sarawak are unique and where we stay determined by God. Our existence is not an accident.
Sarawak Our Land, Our Destiny
1. Knowing the people – Sarawak is unique and it has unique people
2. Knowing the community – Sarawak is made up of communities of people who have lived peacefully among each other for a long time.
3. Knowing the destiny – God has specific destiny for Sarawak.
God has put us in Sarawak, we are to trust in Him, settle here and take roots, we should not let others distract us and spoil our faith and joy.
We have One Father who created us.
God gave us our inheritance and set boundaries for us. Therefore God has also given Sarawakians our inheritance and boundaries.
God will protect and hold the hands of the righteous.
God instructed the exiles to settle down, marry and multiple. Seek peace and prosperity in the places where God has brought the people.
History of Sarawak
14th Century – Arrival of Islam
16th Century – Sultanate of Brunei
1839 – Revolt
When James Brooke came to Sarawak he helped to squash the rebellion for the Sultanate of Brunei and in the process, Sarawak was given to him. He and the subsequent two Rajahs ruled Sarawak. They were Christians, so the values of Christianity were implanted in their administration and rule.
In total the Brooke family and the British ruled Sarawak for 122 years. Sarawak is really blessed because we were ruled by Christians practically. In fact, James Brooke was the one who invited the Church of England to set up churches in Sarawak.
One of the 9 Cardinals of the Brooke was “That freedom of expressions both in speech and writing shall be permitted and encouraged and that every one shall be entitled to worship as he pleases”. In fact all 9 Cardinals have Christian principles in them.
Formation of Malaysia
16th September 1963 Malaysia came into being. Sarawak joined as equal partner. God created Sarawak as a part of Malaysia.
The Unique Sarawak Community
Racial composition, Iban 29%, Chinese 24%, Malay 23%, Bidayuh 8%, Melanau 6% others 6%
Act 17:27 – this has been the creation of God.
27th May 1961 – Luncheon when formation of Malaysia was first discussed
July 1961 – Malaysia Consultative Committee was formed
3rd Feb 1962 – Memorandum on Malaysia
4th Jan 1962 – Sarawak Government’s paper on Malaysia
3rd Feb 1962 – Cobbold Commission
July 1962 – London meeting of the British and Malayan representatives.
Aug 1962 – Inter Government Committee
27th Feb 1963 – report on the inter government committee
Freedom of Religion
Memorandum of Malaysia Clause 12
“It is satisfied that the acceptance of Islam as the religion of the Federation would not endanger religious freedom within Malaysia nor will it make Malaysia a State less secular…”
4th Jan Malaysia and Sarawak – also specifically mentioned freedom of religion.
Cobbold Commission Kapit Iban Conference, Resolution 6 – freedom of religion.
Cobbold Commission Second Division Iban Conference, Condition g – freedom of religion.
Report by Inter-Government Committee – although Islam is the religion of the Federation others can practice their own religion freely.
Before the formation of Malaysia the British parliament also debated about the specific issue of religious freedom.
In 1962 Tun Razak also assured Sarawak that they will have religious freedom.
Federal Constitution article 3(1) – “Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation.”
Article 11(1) – “Every person has the right to profess and practice his religion and, subject to Clause (4), to propagate it.”
In Sarawak there is no law against propagation.
Despite the persecutions, the Christian community continued to increase e.g in 1947, 7.9% were Christians in Sarawak, in 2000 it was 42.6%.
What Does the Future Hold For Us?
In the next Jubilee 2063 are we to see a larger portion of the Sarawak population as Christians?
Cindy Jacob prophesied about East Malaysia “I want to speak to East Malaysia. And the Lord says, "East Malaysia, I am giving you a key to unlock the destiny of a nation," says the Lord. And the Lord says, "Let the church of East Malaysia arise, and I can be to you a hinge," says the Lord, "that will open and close a destiny," says God.”
We are also witnessing churches of different denominations coming together to fight on the issues facing us Christians. For the first time ACS said “This time for us to speak has come”.
The young need to learn and be inculcated in Christian values, so pre-schools are important in particular in rural areas.
The Sarawak Rural Childhood care and education (RUSA) has been set up to assist in starting these pre-schools. By 2013, 78 pre schools have been set up and projected to increase to 238 in 2021.
The future of Sarawak depends on what we will do with the younger generation in the next 10 to 15 years.
v3 Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.
v4 Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
(from New International Version)
Once again, a reminder for us: “Am I Sarawak’s keeper?”