Sarawak History

Under the Brunei Sultanate in the 16th century, Sarawak was divided into districts governed by Pangerans, representatives of the Sultan. Dissatisfaction with the tax system and administration resulted in an insurgency in the 17th century. The Sultan of Brunei had to enlist the help of Pangeran Muda Hashim who in turn sought the assistance of James Brooke.

Following James Brooke’s success in thwarting the insurgency, he was appointed the Governor of Sarawak on 24 September 1841. He became Sarawak’s first “White Rajah” from 1846 to 1868 when Sarawak gained independence from Brunei. A British-style administration was introduced and local chieftains were appointed as his advisers.

Charles Brooke, who succeeded James Brooke in 1868 divided Sarawak into five divisions. Sarawak came under British rule and a British adviser was appointed in 1888.

In 1917, Charles Vyner Brooke succeeded Charles Brooke. The implementation of a written constitution drawn up in 1941 was precluded by the Japanese invasion in the same year.

With the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II, Sarawak was placed under the British Military Administration till 1946 when it became a British Crown Colony. Sir Charles Arden was appointed as the first British Governor.

The formation of the Federation of Malaysia comprising the Malay Federated States, Singapore, Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei was proposed in 1961. Initially, this was met with resistance from the political leaders of Sarawak. Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra al-haj led missions to Sabah and Sarawak to detail the proposal and assure the leaders as well as the people. The leaders of Sarawak were also invited to join the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Singapore. Subsequent to this, The Cobbold Commission was set up to seek the views of the people regarding the proposal.

The findings revealed that 70% favoured the formation of Malaysia. This prompted Britain to announce the formation of Malaysia on 31 Aug 1963 in spite of strong opposition from Indonesia and the Philippines. Due to the opposition, another inquiry was commissioned. The second inquiry also reported that the people generally favoured the formation of Malaysia. This led to the official declaration of the formation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963. Sarawak has been a part of Malaysia ever since.

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