KUCHING: A huge crowd have gathered at the Song Kheng Hai ground here to celebrate the day Sarawak gained independence from the British.
The rally was organised by the Sarawak Dayak Iban Association and Sarawak for Sarawakians movement.
Sarawak gained independence from the British colonial rule on July 22, 1963. It then joined Malaya, Sabah and Singapore on Sept 16 the same year to form Malaysia.
The event proceeded peacefully despite Bukit Aman's advice that it should not be held due to concerns it would be used to stir up secessionist sentiments.
Speaking to the crowd, some of whom came from as far as Sibu, Bintulu and Miri, organising chairman Peter John Jaban said the rally was not about calling for the Sarawak to leave Malaysia.
"We are here to celebrate the historic day when Sarawak gained independence," he said, calling for July 22 to be made a public holiday.
He thanked state and city police for allowing the rally to go ahead.
An official ceremony to commemorate July 22 is also being held by the state government at the State Legislative Assembly complex.