Hornbill Unleashed

December 19, 2013

Where is Bruno Manser: Dead or alive?

Filed under: Human rights,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:01 AM
Tags: , , ,

Ritchie poses with a list of his books at the launch of the exhibition today.Ng Ai Fern

Ritchie poses with a list of his books at the launch of the exhibition today.

Sarawak veteran journalist James Alexander Ritchie is finding it difficult to publish his second book on controversial Swiss environmentalist Bruno Manser.
Titled “Where is Bruno Manser: Dead or Alive?” the book has reached a deadlock as nobody is willing to publish it.
“They said it is a bit too sensitive,” said Ritchie, who tried to come out with theories to solve the mystery disappearance of Manser that shocked international community more than 10 years ago.
“Somebody said he is still alive and was giving lecture in Europe, I will only believe that if I see his photographs myself,” he told reporters at the state library here today after the launch of “Celebrating the Writer: Mr James Alexander Ritchie” exhibition.
Manser, a famous environmentalist who had been actively protesting against the state’s logging activities, was last seen in 2000 in Bario.
A foundation he set up in Switzerland, Bruno Manser Fund (BMF), has been continuing his struggle to help the Penan community against logging and plantation activities, and now mega-dam developments that will displace indigenous community.
When asked, Ritchie said he would not approach BMF to publish his book as he would rather the book published locally.
Ritchie’s first book on Manser – titled “Bruno Manser – The Inside Story” – was published in 1994.
It relates the inside story of how an idealistic environmentalist from Switzerland who came to Sarawak to explore the Mulu caves but ended up leading the Penan to carry out blockades in timber concessions of Baram district.
Manser stayed in Sarawak forests with the Penan from 1984 till 1990 living the life of a nomad.
His dream was shattered when a squad of police personnel from the Field Force tracked him down to the Kelabit village of Long Seridan and almost captured him.
In March 1990, Manser left Sarawak with the help of several Swiss colleagues, posing as a tourist as he slipped past the police and immigration authorities in Kuching.
Later in April, he brought two Penan chiefs on a World Tour to publicise the cases of the Penan whom he alleged were being robbed of their land.
Ritchie, a former crime reporter with a mainstream English newspaper, carried out his own investigative reports on the activities of Manser and the Penans.
He became the first person to meet Manser at Long Seridan. The book has a full transcript of a three-hour interview with Manser.
Other than Manser, Ritchie, 50, currently the executive director of New Sarawak Tribune, has also written 25 books on politics, culture, history, Bujang Senang and other topics of Borneo interest.
Six of the books are on the state’s longest-serving Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.
His favourite book is on Sarawak communism published in 2011, entitled “Crimson Tide Over Borneo Untold Police Stories and Cessation of the Sarawak Communist Insurgency (1952 – 1990).”
His next book is about the Kelabit in the Central Highlands in Borneo, co-authored with Datuk Robert Lian. It is scheduled to be published in May 2014.


  1. All I know about Bruno Manser is, for somebody who’s a PhD holder, he loves the Penans so much he even adopted their way of life in a loincloth. The other thing I know about him is Mahathir has a price on his head back in the 1990s. He was definitely a pain in the arse for the corrupt ruling regime with his propagation of the plight of the Penans all over the world at a time when the Mamak Devil likes to be seen around the globe like as if he’s a world class Malay statesman of no equal standing except Nelson Mandela. I bet one day if Mahathir kicks the bucket and they put up a museum in his honour, all the donkey photos exhibited within will show just him and Mandela. Mahathir likes to believe only himself and Mandela are fit to be glorified as earthly saints.

    Comment by nickkraemr — December 27, 2013 @ 9:34 PM | Reply

  2. You see James lied about his age. When I was in Form 1 he was already in the 6th.form. Today I am 59 simple arithmetic, how old he could be ? Therefore, I have reservation on what he wrote. Facts or fictions. The only realities today are costs of living has gone up and has to endure mediocre civil service.

    Comment by genuineold. — December 21, 2013 @ 7:02 PM | Reply

  3. So James Ritchies is 50 years old! Bloody sob!

    Comment by Vanguard — December 19, 2013 @ 10:51 PM | Reply

    • 50 or 60?

      Agrre with other commentators here.

      He knows the right sources to find Manser so why make it a publicity stunt to sell books?

      Comment by anon — December 20, 2013 @ 10:36 AM | Reply

    • Yup, if James Ritchie is 50, then I am 25! LOL! But, I have high regards for him for his work.

      Comment by Save Sarawak — December 21, 2013 @ 5:38 AM | Reply

      • You mean telling the truth for the ruling elites? LOL..

        Comment by anon — December 21, 2013 @ 12:21 PM | Reply

  4. I would strongly advocate that James should help us to explain the 18 points agreement in the formation of Malaysia. Highlight to us point by point where we have gone wrong and where we need to rectify. Can you do that James ? I am a regular bus traveller Kuching/Miri/Kuching. The journey took so long and road condition is simply terrible. That point One need to rectify.

    Comment by smartAss — December 19, 2013 @ 9:44 PM | Reply

    • I am a street sweeper and only get on the net at lunch breaks.

      So I need some simple explanations from James who has been spreading the government messages for 40 years.. why so many of us have to scavenge for food at the local rubbish tip.

      By the way I am using a throw away lap top which still works..

      Comment by anon — December 21, 2013 @ 12:25 PM | Reply

  5. Dead or alive his legacy lives on. His struggle and selfless devotion as a fighter is legendary. The gargantuan machinery of the government could not decipher his where-about or his living status. Shameful that the government has all the machinery but incapable in determining his death/life. The whole world now know the marginalised Penans through him. Outsiders are more aware and concerned about the Penan than the BN (Barang Naik) government.

    Comment by I am Right — December 19, 2013 @ 8:02 AM | Reply

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