Tuesday, May 8, 2007

My Wonderful Sarawak !!!

After taking Deb suggestion, I would like to talk about my hometown .. Sarawak, one of the biggest state in Malaysia to those who never been here. I was born and stay in Sarawak and now I was proudly bring to you my wonderful place for you to know my country better.

Malaysia, truly Asia: Melting pot of cultures, religions, and a vacationers paradise where you can experience a whole gamut of Asian sights, tastes and sounds. Endowed with magnificent scenic wonders and a colourful thriving cosmopolitan elegance, with rainforests dating back 130 million years that still retain their ancient splendors while bustling cities and towns boasts of modern day sophistication.

Malaysia consists of 13 states and the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan which is an island off the coast of Sabah over in East Malaysia.

Sarawak is one of the biggest state where I'm living is best known as the land of vastness: Vast mass of land, vast ethnic diversity and vast natural wonders. With three quarter of its landmass still covered with the world's oldest tropical rainforests and latticed with rivers and tributaries, it is home to weird and fascinating plants and animals: deer the size of cats, big nosed and big bellied Proboscis monkeys, fly eating pitcher plants, the world's largest flower, lizards and squirrels that fly, and many others.

And now this is the best part, the place that I stay .... know as Kuching, one of 9 division that can be found in Sarawak (refer to the Sarawak map above).


Kuching, the capital (which means "Cat" in Malay), is without doubt the most pleasant and interesting city in Borneo. It is hilly, leafy and has a very pleasant riverside area. The river is a focal point of the town and features a graceful, European style esplanade- the Kuching waterfront, with views across to the Astana (the Palace), and Fort Margherita.

The town contains many beautifully landscaped parks and gardens, historic buildings, traditional Chinese shop houses, colourful markets, various Chinese temples, a striking state mosque and has one of Asia’s best museums.


At the beginning of the 19th century, Sarawak was a typical Malay principality, under the control of the Sultan of Brunei. Apart from occasional piracy on the coast and headhunting in the interior; Sarawak was peaceful. All of this changed when the Sultan of Brunei appointed a hugely unpopular Governor. The Malays and Bidayuhs of the Sarawak River revolted in 1836 and declared independence. An ugly guerrilla war ensued, which continued until 1839, when James Brooke, a young, wealthy Englishman arrived on the scene in his well-armed yacht, The Royalist.

Brooke set himself up as a freelance adventurer and the Sultan’s uncle immediately asked him to help put down the rebellion. Brooke readily agreed. The spears and muskets of the rebels were no match for a modern warship and the conflict soon ended. As a reward, the grateful Sultan made Brooke the Rajah of Sarawak in 1841. Brooke was not content to rule over a small riverside town, and set out to pacify his new kingdom, with the help of the British Navy. At the time of his death in 1868, Sarawak was a relatively peaceful territory covering the area between Tanjung Datu (which is now the Indonesian border) and Kuching.

James Brooke’s nephew Charles, who succeeded him, was no adventurer like his uncle, but an excellent administrator and politician. He set up a proper system of government, gradually expanding his area of control until it formed the present day Sarawak. His legacy is everywhere in Kuching. It was he who built the Astana, Fort Margherita, the Courthouse, the Sarawak Museum and many other fine buildings. Charles Brooke died in 1917, and was succeeded by his son, Charles Vyner Brooke, who built on his father’s achievements and improved the general administration of the state. In 1941 he set up State Council to oversee the passing of new laws, bringing the first stirrings of democracy to Sarawak. The rule of the State Council was short-lived, as the Japanese invaded at the end of the same year.

When the Japanese surrendered in September 1945, Sarawak came under Australian military administration. Vyner Brooke felt the state would be better off as a colony and ceded it to Britain. This move was very unpopular and resulted in the assassination of the Governor, Duncan Stewart, in 1949. Order was eventually restored and the colonial administration concentrated on preparing Sarawak for independence. In 1963, Sarawak and Sabah gained independence by joining with Malaya to form the new nation of Malaysia.

Watch out for my next blog as I going to tell more about our art and craft, food, events, wonderful places etc.


Lizzy said...

Thanks for sharing the History of Sarawak with us, Charlene! It's such a lovely place to live... :-)

Chelle said...

Lene this is fascinating! Thank you so much for sharing the history of your region. I am looking forward to your next installment.

Susimac said...

I'm really looking forward to your next installment - your country's history is very fascinating.