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The Crown Colony of Sarawak was a British Crown colony on the island of Borneo established in 1946 shortly after the dissolution of the British Military Administration. It was succeeded as the state of Sarawak through the formation of the Federation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963.

Crown Colony of Sarawak
1946–1963
Anthem: God Save the King (1946–1952)
God Save the Queen (1952–1963)
Fair Land Sarawak
Location of Sarawak
Status British colony
Capital Kuching
Common languages English, Iban, Melanau, Bidayuh, Sarawak Malay, Chinese etc.
Government Crown colony
Monarch  
Governor  
• 1946–1949
Charles Clarke
• 1960–1963
Alexander Waddell
Historical era New Imperialism
• Sarawak ceded to the Crown Colony
1 July 1946[1][2]
22 July 1963
16 September 1963
Currency Sarawak dollar, later Malaya and British Borneo dollar
Preceded by
Succeeded by
British Military Administration (Borneo)
Kingdom of Sarawak
Sarawak
Today part of  Malaysia

Contents

HistoryEdit

The process of cessionEdit

After the end of Japanese occupation in Sarawak on 11 September 1945, British Military Administration took over Sarawak for 7 months before handed over back to Rajah Charles Vyner Brooke on 15 April 1946.[3] Charles Vyner Brooke arrived in Sarawak on 15 April 1946 to receive the hand over. He was generally well received by the Sarawak local population. During the Japanese occupation, Sarawak experienced a total loss of 23 million dollars (excluding 57 million in losses by Sarawak oil company) due to destructions of oilfields, airstrips, and rubber plantations. Vyner Brooke found that he did not have enough resources to develop Sarawak. He did not have any male heir to inherit the position of White Rajah. Vyner Brooke was also not confident on the Bertram Brooke (Vyner's brother) or Anthony Brooke (son of Bertram Brooke) leadership abilities in governing Sarawak. Vyner Brooke hoped that with cession of Sarawak as a British crown colony, the British would be able to rebuild Sarawak infrastructure and develop Sarawak's post war economy. The news regarding the cession of Sarawak first came to light on 8 February 1946. The news was received with mixed response from the Sarawak people. The Iban, Chinese, and the Melanau community received the news positively. However, the majority of the Malays were against the cession of Sarawak to the British government, A survey was done by the British representatives among the various ethnic groups in Sarawak regarding the cession issue. On 10 May 1946, a report was compiled and sent to British colonial office in London which read as:[4]

...there was sufficient acquiescent or favourable opinion in the country as a whole to justify the question of cession being brought before the Council Negri of Sarawak,. and they strongly urged that there should be no postponement of that action.

However, according to ABC Radio Melbourne, Rajah Charles Vyner Brooke would receive one million British pounds as compensation for cession of Sarawak. This gave an impression that Vyner was trying to sell Sarawak for personal gain. This was in contrast to 1941 constitution of Sarawak which dictated that Sarawak would head towards self-governance under Brooke guidance. The constitution was not implemented due to Japanese occupation. The decision for cession was also criticised by a local Malay newspaper, Utusan Sarawak. This was because British had failed to protect Sarawak from Japanese invasion in 1942, only to try to claim Sarawak after the war. In addition, the British would only approve financial loans to rebuild Sarawak upon Sarawak cession as crown colony. The British claim on Sarawak was therefore seen as an effort to exploit the natural resources of Sarawak for their own economic interests. On top of this, the British colonial office had also tried to combine British Malaya, Straits Settlements, British North Borneo, Brunei, and Sarawak into one administrative unit. Between 1870 until 1917, the British had tried to interfere with internal affairs of Sarawak but were met with stiff resistance from Rajah Charles Brooke. The British also tried to interfere with succession issue of Anthony Brooke in 1940 and urged Vyner Brooke to sign a 1941 agreement to station a British advisor in Sarawak for fear of Japanese influence in Southeast Asia. The British also became wary that Australia intended to take ovr the military administration of Sarawak. Consequently the British government wished to take control of Sarawak before the Australians did.[4]

From 15 May to 17 May 1946, cession bill was debated in the Council Negri (now Sarawak State Legislative Assembly) and was approved with a slim majority of 19 versus 16 votes. European officers generally supportive of the cession, however, the Malay officials strongly opposed the cession. About 300 to 400 Malay civil servants resigned from their posts as a sign of protest. Questions had been raised about the legality of such voting in Council Negri. Outsiders such as Europeans officers took part in the voting that decided the fate of Sarawak. Several Chinese representatives were threaten of their lives if they did not vote to support the cession.[4] With the signing of cession bill on 18 May 1946 between Rajah Charles Vyner Brooke and the British representative, C.W. Dawson, at the Astana, Kuching; the cession of Sarawak as British Crown Colony became effective on 1 July 1946.[3] On the same day, Rajah Charles Vyner Brooke gave a speech on the benefits of Sarawak as a crown colony:[4]

. . Nevertheless I took this decision because I know that it was in the best interests of the people of Sarawak and that in the turmoil of the modern world they would benefit greatly from the experience, strength and wisdom of British Rule.

— reported by The Sarawak Gazette, 2 July 1947, page 118.

The first governor did not arrive until 29 October 1946. Sarawak became the British Crown Colony for 17 years before participated in the formation of Malaysia.[3]

Anti-cession movementEdit

The cession has sparked the nationalism spirit among the Malay intellectuals. They started anti-cession movement with their main centre of operation in Sibu and Kuching. Meanwhile, majority of the Chinese supported the cession because the British would bring more economic benefits to Sarawak. Besides, illegal gambling and opium trade will be banned under British rule which was also beneficial for the economy. The majority of the Iban people respected decision by the Rajah Charles Vyner Brooke as they believe that Rajah acted on the best interests of the Sarawak people. Meanwhile, the Indians in Sarawak also supported the cession as they viewed the British governing principle as satisfactory.[4]

The Malays established the Malay Youth Association (Malay: Persatuan Pemuda Melayu (PSM)) in Sibu and Sarawak Malay National Association (Malay:Persatuan Kebangsaan Melayu Sarawak (PKMS)) in Kuching. Those civil servants who resigned from their government posts established a group called "Group 338" as to symbolise prophet Muhammad that led 338 infantry to victory in the Battle of Badr. Initially they organised talks, hanging posters, signing memorandums, and took part in demonstrations in order to express their dissatisfaction over the cession. Anthony Brooke also tried to oppose the cession but he was banned from entering Sarawak by the British colonial government. The demands and appeals by the Malay community was not heeded by the British. This has caused a more radical organisation to be established in Sibu on 20 August 1948, known as Rukun 13, with Awang Rambli as their leader. In Awang Rambli's opinion:[4]

It is useless that we organise such demonstrations for prolong periods of time while waiting for miracles to happen. We must remember that independence is still in our hands if we decided to sacrifice our lives. There is no other better person to kill other than the governor.

— reported by Syed Hussein Alattas in 1975

Thus, the second governor of Sarawak, Duncan Stwart was stabbed by Rosli Dhobi in Sibu on 3 December 1949. Following this, Rukun 13 was outlawed with four members (including Rosli Dhobi and Awang Rambli) of the organisation hanged to death and the others jailed. This incident increased the British effort to clamp down on the anti-cession movement of Sarawak. All the organisations related to anti-cession were banned and anti-cession documents were seized. Following the incident, Anthony Brooke tried to distance himself from the anti-cession movement for fear of being associated with the plotting to kill the governor of Sarawak. The people of Sarawak were also afraid to lend support to the anti-cession movement for fear of backlash from the British colonial government. This led to the end of anti-cession movement in February 1951. Although the anti-cession movement ended as a failure, Malaysian historians regarded this incident as a starting point of nationalism among the natives in Sarawak. This incident also sent the British a message that the local people of Sarawak should not be taken lightly. The British had described the members of Rukun 13 as traitors but in the eyes of Malaysian historians, the Rukun 13 members are regarded as heroes that fight for the independence of Sarawak.[4]

On 4 February 1951, various anti-cession organisations in Sarawak sent a telegram to the British prime minister on plans on the future of Sarawak. They received a reply from the British prime minister which assured them of the British intentions to guide Sarawak towards self-governance in the Commonwealth of Nations. The people of Sarawak are free to express their views through proper channels according to the constitution, and their opinions will be given full consideration by the British government.[4]

AdministrationEdit

The Governor of British Crown Colony of Sarawak (Malay: Tuan Yang Terutama Gabenor Koloni Mahkota British Sarawak) was the position created by the British Government upon the cession of Sarawak from the Brooke Administration in 1946. The appointment was made by King George VI, and later Queen Elizabeth II until the self-government of Sarawak on 22 July 1963[5][6][7] and the forming of the Federation of Malaysia on 1963.[8] After the formation of Malaysia, the title was changed to 'Tuan Yang Terutama Yang di-Pertua Negeri Sarawak', which also means 'His Excellency The Governor of Sarawak', or 'His Excellency The Head of State of Sarawak' and the appointment was later made by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or King of Malaysia. The official residence of the Governor of Sarawak at that time was The Astana, located at the North bank of the Sarawak River.

Governor of British Crown Colony of Sarawak
 
Style His Excellency
Residence The Astana
Appointer King George VI
succeeded in 1952 by Queen Elizabeth II
Inaugural holder Charles Arden-Clarke
Formation 1946–1963
Final holder Alexander Waddell
Abolished 16 September 1963 (Formed the Federation of Malaysia)[8]
List of Governors of the Crown Colony of Sarawak[9]
No. Name Took Office Left Office Note
1. Charles Arden-Clarke 29 October 1946 26 July 1949 First Governor of the Crown Colony of Sarawak
2. Duncan Stewart 14 November 1949 10 December 1949 Assassinated by Rosli Dhobi while visiting Sibu on 3 December 1949
3. Anthony Abell 4 April 1950 15 November 1959 Originally appointed for the term of 3 years only, but his term was extended to 1959. He would later become one of the members of the Cobbold Commission.
4. Alexander Waddell 23 February 1960 22 July 1963[5][6][7] Last Governor of Sarawak.

EconomyEdit

The economy of Sarawak was heavily depended upon the agricultural sector and was heavily influenced by the government expenditure on the economy, and imports and exports of goods. Consumption and investments made up only a small part of the economy as majority of the population were working in the agricultural sector. The private and commercial economy in Sarawak was dominated by the Chinese although majority of the Chinese were into farming. The annual Sarawak budget can be divided into two parts: recurrent budget and capital budget. Recurrent budget was the annual commitment by the government for spending in public services. Its revenue is derived from regular, reliable source of income. Capital budget was used to long-term development in Sarawak. Its revenue was derived from unpredictable source of income such as grants from the British colonial development and welfare fund, loans, and surpluses from export duties. From 1947 to 1962, the total government revenue was increasing from 12 million to 78 million dollar yearly, with total expenditure increasing steadily from 10 million to 82 million dollars per year. There were only three years where the government budget showed deficits (1949, 1958, 1962). There was no known gross domestic product (GDP) figures during this period due to lack of data. Although several new tax and business legislations were introduced during the colonial period, however, there were few practicing lawyers available. This was partly due to Brooke regime of not allowing lawyers to practice in Sarawak. Therefore, cases seldom reach the court level. Agriculture in Sarawak was poorly developed during the period due to the lack of education among farmers that used wasteful slash-and-burn technique in farming, lack of communications, and failure of diversification crops other than rubber.[3]

After the Japanese occupation, Rajah Charles Vyner Brooke signed the last Supply Ordiance for the budget expenditure in Sarawak in 1946. The majority of expenditure went into "Arrears of Pension" (amounting to one million dollars), probably to pay for government servants who were held by or working during the Japanese occupation. This was followed by expenditure for the treasury, public works, pensions and provident fund, medical and health, and Sarawak Constabulary. Public works expenditure accounted for only 5.5% of the total expenditure even after the destruction of war during the Japanese occupation. Following the formation of British Crown Colony, public works and treasury became the immediate priority for the post war reconstruction and restructuring of government finances. This was followed closely by pensions, constabulary, and health. Public works remained as the major expenditure until 1950. In 1951, expenditures on aviation was specifically allocated as compared to previous years where this subject was put inside the "Landing grounds" expenditure. The 1951 budget put more emphasis on the allocations for local authorities, native affairs, defense, and internal security; overshadowed the expenditures on public works. In 1952, contributions for war damage commission was dramatically increased. In In 1953, allocation were increased for developmental projects. Only in 1956, expenditures for education was substantially increased, and accounted for 15.5% of the total budget in 1957. Expenses on education occupied a significant proportion on the budget until the end of the colonial period. Majority of the education expenditures was put into primary and secondary schools. Tertiary education only started to appear in Sarawak in 1961 following the formation of Batu Lintang Teacher's Training College. Expenditures on forestry has also been increasing throughout the colonial period. Expenditures on defence has been minimal throughout the period because Britain was solely responsible for defence in Sarawak. The year 1952 also showed a jump in revenue from income tax although customs and excise duties still constituted the largest income earner for the government throughout the colonial period. However, revenues collected from income tax had been decreasing steadily throughout the colonial period.[3]

Rice was the major import item in Sarawak. Although rice is grown in the state, it was not sufficient enough to feed the population since the Brooke era. Another major import was the oil from Seria oilfields for processing at Lutong oil refinery to produce gasoline, kerosene, gas, fuel oil, and diesel fuel. Major export items were: rubber, pepper, sago flour, Jelutong (a source of rubber), sawn timber, Copra seeds, and petroleum. There was only five rubber estates at that time covering only 2,854 hectares comparing to 80,000 hectares in small holdings. The years 1950 to 1952 showed an increase in government revenue due to the effects of Korean war that raised the demand for rubber. By 1956, pepper exports from Sarawak accounted for one third of the world's pepper production. The importance of Jelutong exports declined throughout the colonial area. Petroleum was the major income earner for Sarawak during this period. Initially, the colonial government exported gold to foreign markets but after 1959, government involvement in gold exports ceased, leaving miners to sell gold in the local and other free markets. Bauxite exports from the first division (Sematan) was increasing during the second half of the colonial period but by the end of the colonial period, this mineral was exhausted of its production.[3]

Overall, the government expenditures during the colonial era has increased substantially in all sectors when compared to Brooke era. However, such amount is still lagging behind when compared to Malayan peninsular states. According to a research done by Alexander Gordon Crocker, such budget expenditures showed that the colonial government was trying to develop Sarawak instead of exploiting the natural resources of Sarawak.[3]

DemographicsEdit

A census conducted in 1947 shown that the population in Sarawak was 546,385 with Iban people, Chinese, and Malay made up 79.3% of the population. At the beginning of the colonial period, 72% of the population were subsistence farmers, 13% were growing cash crops and 15% were paid workers. Among the various ethnic groups in Sarawak, only the Chinese were closely associated with entrepreneurship.[3]

Ethnic groups in Sarawak (1947)[3]
Ethnic Percent
Iban
34.8%
Chinese
26.6%
Malay
17.9%
Bidayuh
7.7%
Melanau
6.5%
Others (indigenous)
5.5%
European
0.1%
Others (non-indigenous)
0.9%
YearPop.±%
1947 546,385—    
1948* 554,786+1.5%
1949* 563,187+1.5%
1950* 571,558+1.5%
1951* 579,989+1.5%
1952* 588,390+1.4%
1953 596,790+1.4%
1954* 607,919+1.9%
1955* 620,056+2.0%
1956 631,431+1.8%
1957 648,362+2.7%
1958* 675,994+4.3%
1959 703,525+4.1%
1960 752,314+6.9%
1961 768,545+2.2%
1962 776,990+1.1%
* Interplolated figures
All the yearly data in the table were ending on 31 December except for 1962 which was ending in June. No census data available from 1948-1952 and 1958. Therefore, the yearly data are interpolated by dividing the differences between the years equally. Data from 1954 and 1955 were ending in June. Therefore, the figures are interpolated to 31 December for both years.
Source: [3]

InfrastructureEdit

EducationEdit

Batu Lintang Teacher Training Centre (BLTTC) was opened in 1948 in order to train teachers for rural native vernacular schools. English language training courses were offered to the teachers. A lower secondary school was also attached to BLTTC where the selected students from primary schools were enrolled. Students who successfully graduated from the secondary school was able to train as teacher at BLTTC or join the civil service. In order to raise the adult literacy in the rural areas and to improve the natives' agricultural productivity, Kanowit Rural Improvement School was opened in May 1948. However, due to apathy of the natives towards education, there was only slight improvement of literacy rate from 1947 to 1960. The Rural Improvement School was subsequently closed down in 1957.[10]

ElectricityEdit

Immediately after the war, it was evident that Miri, Bintulu, and Limbang were devastated due to allied bombings during the war. The people of Miri were dependent upon a generator set brought by the Japanese from Jesselton (now Kota Kinabalu). Similarly, the towns of Kapit, Kanowit, and Song were destroyed in anarchy during the last days of war. Sarawak Electricity Supply Company (SESCo) was reinstated after the war, however it struggled to keep up with the growing demand of electricity in major townships due to lack of spare parts, constant wear and tear, and the lack of proper maintenance of the equipment. SESCo also took over the power plants at Miri from Sarawak Oil Fields Limited. The people from major towns continue to suffer from erratic supply of electricity until 1953 when electrical supply was restored to pre-war capacity. In that year, electrical supply was expanded to five new places in Sarawak. SESCo continued to operate until 1 January 1963, when it was turn into Sarawak Electricity Supply Corporation (SESCO).[11]

CultureEdit

On 8 June 1954, Radio Sarawak was set up with the technical assistance from BBC. The broadcasting service had four sections: Malay, Iban, Chinese, and English. The Iban section was broadcast from 7 pm to 8 pm daily, covering news, farming, animal husbandry, Iban folklore and epics. In 1958, School Broadcasting Service was set up under the Colombo Plan. English lessons began in 1959. Radio sets were distributed to primary schools for pupils to learn their English language. In 1960s, there were 467 participating schools in Sarawak with 850 teachers attended 11 training courses. With the formation of Malaysia in 1963, Radio Sarawak was renamed as Radio Malaysia Sarawak.[12]

The colonial government recognised that British education and indigenous culture was influencing a new generation of Iban teachers. Thus, on 15 September 1958, the Borneo Literature Bureau was inaugurated with a charter to nurture and encourage local literature while also supporting the government in its release of documentation, particularly in technical and instructional manuscripts that were to be distributed to the indigenous peoples of Sarawak and Sabah. As well as indigenous languages, documents would also be published in English, Chinese and Malay.[12]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Sarawak as a British Crown Colony (1946 â€" 1963)". Sarawak State Government. Archived from the original on 4 August 2017. Retrieved 4 August 2017. 
  2. ^ Walter Yust (1947). Ten eventful years: a record of events of the years preceding, including and following World War II, 1937 through 1946. Encyclopaedia Britannica. p. 382. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Alexander, Gordon Crocker (2002). "The economic history of Sarawak during the colonial period (1946-1963)" (PDF). Faculty of Economics and Business - Universiti Malaysia Sarawak. Retrieved 10 February 2018. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Ho, Hui Ling (2001). "PENYERAHAN SARAWAK KEPADA KERAJAAN BRITISH, 1946-l951 (Cession of Sarawak to the British (1946 to 1951)" (PDF). Persatuan Sejarah Malaysia (Malaysian Historical Society). 9 (4): 43–73. Retrieved 14 March 2018. 
  5. ^ a b "The National Archives DO 169/254 (Constitutional issues in respect of North Borneo and Sarawak on joining the federation)". The National Archives. 1961–1963. Retrieved 23 April 2015. 
  6. ^ a b Vernon L. Porritt (1997). British Colonial Rule in Sarawak, 1946-1963. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-983-56-0009-8. 
  7. ^ a b Philip Mathews (28 February 2014). Chronicle of Malaysia: Fifty Years of Headline News, 1963-2013. Editions Didier Millet. pp. 15–. ISBN 978-967-10617-4-9. 
  8. ^ a b Frans Welman. Borneo Trilogy Sarawak: Volume 2. Booksmango. pp. 134–. ISBN 978-616-245-089-1. Retrieved 9 October 2013. 
  9. ^ "Previous governors of Sarawak". sarawak.gov.my. The Sarawak government. Retrieved 28 February 2018. 
  10. ^ Ooi, Keat Gin (29 May 2013). Post-War Borneo, 1945-1950: Nationalism, Empire and State-Building. Routledge. pp. 1937–1938. ISBN 9781134058105. Retrieved 3 July 2018. 
  11. ^ Muzaffar, Tate (1999). The power behind the state (First ed.). Kuching, Sarawak: Sarawak Electricity Supply Corporation. pp. 133, 134, 135, 136, 148, 246. ISBN 983-99360-1-8. 
  12. ^ a b John, Postill (15 May 2006). Media and Nation Building: How the Iban became Malaysian. Berghahn Books. p. 58. ISBN 978-0-85745-687-8. Retrieved 13 November 2015. Radio Sarawak was officially inaugurated on 8 June 1954 (page 46) ... to encourage local authorship and meet local needs ... (page 51)