Sarawak is the another states of Malaysia that located on the island of Borneo. Known as Bumi Kenyalang (“Land of the Hornbills”), it is situated on the north-west of the island. It is the largest state in Malaysia with a total area of some 125 000 square km, it makes up 37.5% of the land of Malaysia.; the second largest, Sabah, lies to the northeast. Sarawak also located on the world’s third largest island of Borneo, which comprises known as East Malaysia. Sarawak also contains large tracts of tropical rain forest home to an abundance of plant and animal species.
The administrative capital is Kuching which has a population of 579,900 (2006 census). The name Kuching literally means ‘cat’ (kucing), although this is the official version, it is much more likely to be derived from Chinese Cantonese for ‘Old Place’. Major cities and towns population as below of last census (Dec 31, 2006)
Sibu (pop. 254,000)
Miri (pop. 263,000)
Bintulu (pop. 176,800)
The total of state population was 2,357,500, a multicultural state, with no ethnic majority where compromise of 28 ethnic and speak more than 50 different language.
The eastern seaboard of Borneo had been charted (though never settled) by the Portuguese in the early 16th century. The area of today’s Sarawak was known to Portuguese cartographers as Cerava. Sarawak had been a loosely governed territory under the control of the Brunei Sultanate in the early 19th century, although in the early 17th century Sarawak had her own the first and the last Sultan, Sultan Tengah. During the reign of Pangeran Indera Mahkota in 19th century, Sarawak was in chaos. Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin II (1827-1852), the Sultan of Brunei, ordered Pangeran Muda Hashim in 1839 to restore order and it was during this time that James Brooke arrived in Sarawak. Pangeran Muda Hashim initially requested assistance but James Brooke refused. In 1841, James Brooke paid another visit to Sarawak and this time he agreed to assist. Pangeran Muda Hashim signed a treaty in 1841 surrendering Sarawak and Sinian to James Brooke. Therefore, on 24 September 1841, Pangeran Muda Hashim bestowed the title Governor to James Brooke. He effectively became the Raja of Sarawak and founded the White Rajah Dynasty of Sarawak, later extending his administration through an agreement with the Sultan of Brunei.
Sir James Brooke, Raja of Sarawak.Brooke was appointed Raja by the Sultan of Brunei on August 18, 1842; originally this territory was just the western end of later Sarawak, around Kuching. He ruled Sarawak until his death in 1868. His nephew Charles Anthoni Johnson Brooke became Raja after his death; he was succeeded on his death in 1917 by his son, Charles Vyner Brooke, with a provision that Charles should rule in consultation with his brother Bertram Brooke. The territory was greatly expanded under the White Raja, mostly at the expense of areas nominally under the control of Brunei. In practice Brunei had only controlled strategic river and coastal forts in much of the lost territory, and so most of the gain was at the expense of Muslim warlords and of the de facto independence of local tribes.
The Brooke dynasty ruled Sarawak for a hundred years and became famous as the “White Raja”, accorded a status within the British Empire similar to that of the rulers of Indian princely states. In contrast to many other areas of the empire, however, the Brooke family was intent on a policy of paternalism to protect the indigenous population against exploitation. They governed with the aid of the Muslim Malay and enlisted the Ibans and other “Dayak” as a contingent militia. They also encouraged the immigration of Chinese merchants but forbade the Chinese to settle outside of towns in order to minimize the impact on the Dayak way of life. They also established the Sarawak Museum, the first museum in Borneo.
In the early part of 1941 preparations were afoot to introduce a new constitution, designed to limit the power of the Rajah and give the people of Sarawak a greater say in government. While the intention was clearly admirable, the draft constitution contained defects and improprieties, not least by reason of a secret agreement drawn up between Charles Vyner Brooke and his top government officials, by which he was to be financially compensated for this gesture out of treasury funds.
Japan invaded Sarawak and occupied Borneo in 1941, occupying Miri on December 16 and Kuching on December 24, and held it for the duration of World War II until the area was secured by Australian forces in 1945. The Raja formally ceded sovereignty to the British Crown on July 1, 1946, under pressure from his wife among others. In addition the British Government offered a healthy pension to sweeten the negotiations. His nephew Anthony continued to claim sovereignty as Raja of Sarawak.
After the end of the Second World War, Anthony Brooke then opposed the cession of the Raja’s territory to the British Crown, and was associated with anti-secessionist groups in Sarawak. Anthony was banished from the country. He was allowed to return only seventeen years later, when Sarawak became part of the Federation of Malaysia. Sarawak became a British colony (formerly an independent state under British protection) in July 1946, but Brooke’s campaign continued. The Malays in particular resisted the cession to Britain, dramatically assassinating the first British governor.
Sarawak was officially granted independence on July 22, 1963, and was admitted into the federation of Malaysia on September 16, 1963, to the initial opposition from parts of the population.
Sarawakians practice a variety of religions, including Islam, Christianity, Chinese folk religion (a fusion of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and ancestor worship) and animism. Many converts to Christianity among the Dayak peoples also continue to practice traditional ceremonies, particularly with dual marriage rites and during the important harvest and ancestral festivals such as Gawai Dayak, Gawai Kenyalang and Gawai Antu.