Sarawak for Sarawakians (S4S), an NGO, called for the true history of the country to be taught to avoid protests like that which happened on Saturday during the opening of the Brooke Gallery in Kuching.
It wants Sarawak to have autonomy in education so that history can be taught in the homeland based on the truth and not collective amnesia driven by politics.
The protests by a group, “Anak Warisan Sarawak”, made inaccurate claims about Sarawak history in objecting to the opening of the Brooke Gallery, said S4S spokespersons Peter John Jaban and Karen Shepherd in a statement.
They stressed the Brooke Dynasty era should be recognized for their ability to see the value of the people of Sarawak, whether leaders, craftsman or others.
“This is who we are, Dayak including Orang Laut (Sarawak Malay), Indian, Chinese and Others,” said the statement. “We are all Anak Sarawak (children of Sarawak).”
The NGO conceded that AWS had a democratic right to express their feelings on the Brooke Gallery in a peaceful manner. “However, it’s a shame that their statement has only exposed ignorance on their own history.”
S4S was extending, at the same time, an invitation to AWS to attend its talk on October 1 entitled “Who built the Rajah’s buildings?”
“They will learn that Sarawak’s heritage was not imported by invaders and colonizers,” said Jaban and Shepherd. “It was a collaboration of skills from all in the homeland.”
Briefly, stressed the S4S statement, James Brooke never invaded Sarawak. “True, he was not from Sarawak, just like the rulers before him.”
The statement delved into the salient points on Sarawak history with reference to the Brooke Gallery.
Brooke did not conquer Sarawak but instead owed his position entirely to the collaboration of the Abang-Abang among the Orang Laut and the Penghulus of Lundu and Sadong. It was only when the Abang-Abang asked him to head the government that Sarawak had a unique partnership of locals and their new Governor, James Brooke, on 24 September 1841.
The Brooke Dynasty did not head a colonial government, rule of one state by another for the benefit of the latter.
Sarawak was not a colony until 1946 after the Japanese invasion.
The British colonial office seizing Sarawak from the Brooke Government resulted in the assassination on 3 December 1949 of Governor Sir Duncan George Stewart, appointed by London. That eventually led to the British decision to federate Sarawak with Malaya, Sabah and Singapore in 1963.
The original Sarawak was just some 3,000 sq miles confined to Kuching around the Sungai Sarawak.
The homeland gradually extended, at the request of the local people led by Sea Dayak warrior leaders and the Abang-Abang, from Lundu and Sematan in the west to Miri and Limbang on the border with Brunei.
FMT Reporters Online