Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sarawak - on the Island of Borneo

Sarawak exists on Borneo, the third largest in the world after Greenland and New Guinea. Malaysian belongs two states on Borneo are separated in Sarawak with a size of 123520 square kilometer and Sabah with 75230 square kilometer. The sultanate Brunei wedged in between these two Malaysian states and the southern two third of Borneo is belong to Indonesia and called Kalimantan.

Sarawak is well famous for its richness in plants and animal species, in a way Borneo is a center of biodiversity in tropical Asia. There are 10 national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in Sarawak and which are home to quite a number of endangered animal species such as Proposcis Monkeys, Orang Utans, Sumatran Rhinoceros, Clouded Leopard, Asian Elephants et cetera.

Archaeological encounters at Santubong Peninsula serve that the Chinese came to trade during Tang, Yuan and Sung dynasties from 618 AD to 1368 AD. And it was under the control of the Sultan of Brunei once in the past, at some point, there is no written records of the "middle age". In fact, Sarawak's history is like an exciting story from a novel played by enthralling characters of various performers. It was full of mysterious and alluring time while James Brooke landed his first step to the inside of Sarawak from the Sarawak River. He become first White Raja in Sarawak.

"My intention is first to visit Sarawak - a river whence they get antimony ore, as yet unknown and unmarked on teh charts. At Sarawak, I hope to get hold of the Rajah of Borneo proper and go up to the capital with him and, if possible, make an excursion up the river. I feel confident something is to be done"
James Brooke (29 April 1803 – 11 June 1868)

The Chronicles of the Brooke ruled in an era by three generations of an English family whose first foray into Sarawak. James Brooke arrived in Kuching in 1839 to deliver a letter to the governor of Sarawak, Raja Muda Hashim. Sarawak was ruled by Brunei Sultanate at the time he arrived. The Brunei Sultanate and rebellion from the Malays and Bidayuh who had been forced into hard labor by the Governor. Rajah Muda Hashim was not able to control teh uprising and requested to James Brooke to compromise and bring a peaceful settlement with the natives. Brooke succeeded the operations and become White Raja of Sarawak in 1842 as a reward. Not before expanding his territory, in 1842 Rajah Brooke died.

His nephew Charles Brook took over him. Charles Brooke was well organized and capable person who set a proper system of government and extension of Sarawak Border. From 1941 - 1945, during the Japanese occupation, Charles and his family fled to Australia. No difference like other places during Japanese occupation, all economic and administrative structures are collapsed and the people of Sarawak were suffered. Before the return of Sir Charles Vyner Brooke, Sarawak was already took over by Austrilian Military Administration. Sarawak's colonization by British on 1 July 1946 and hundreds of government officers resigned from government service. In 1949, the second British Governor was assasinated by Rosli Dhobi. Despite Malaysia independent on 31 August 1957 (Merdeka Day), Sarawak did not achieve full independence until 16 September 1963 due to opposition from Indonesia and Philippines.

The People
There are 28 ethnic groups inhabitant in Sarawak with their own distinct language, culture and lifestyle. Urban ares are populated by Malay, Chinese, Melanaus and small percentage of Ibans and Bidayuh who are relocated from their village for various reasons such as work or education. There are only a small community of Indians living in Sarawak. It is a harmony amongst the population of over 2 million in 28 indigenous ethnic groups who speak 45 different languages. Furthermore Sarawak is a place of the cluster of various traditions, pratices and religions.

"But who is the civilised Malay or, as he is also termed, the Deurero-Malay or Coastal Malay, of Malaya, Sumatra, Java, Bali, Lombok, Borneo, Celebes, Ternate, Timor, Sumba, and other islands? This broad-headed individual with more or less Mongoloid features, olive skin, lank black hair and thin beard is the Proto-Malay plus many foreign strains derived from inter-marrage with Chinese from teh Chou period onwards, with Indians from Bengal and the Deccan, with Arabs and Siamese." Sir Richard Winstedt, The Malays: A Cultural History

The Malays
Twenty one percentage of the population in Sarawak, Malays are traditionally fishing, wood carving, silver and brass crafting as well as traditional Malay textile weaving. They are in fact originally migrated from Sumatra and they speak different dialect from the Malays of Peninsular Malaysia. Mostly they live traditionally along the coast.

The Chinese
They came to Sarawak as traders in early 6th century, Chinese now the 29 % of the population of Sarawak and practically built up strong community in social and business fields since 19th century then. Sarawakian Chinese are comprising Hokkien, Foochow, Hakka, Cantonese, Teochew and Henghua. They maintain their tradition and celebrate almost all of major cultural and religious activities.

The Iban
They are the largest portion of the total population which is 30 % of entire Sarawak, Iban are reputed as "headhunters of Borneo". Ibans dwell in their renowned longhouses and famous for their weaving, silver crafting, wood carvings and beads. The Ibans traditionally settle in the river valleys of Batang Ai, the Skrang River, Saribas, and the Rajang River by building up their longhouses. These longhouses may have somewhere between six to nearly a hundred units! Longhouses generally located in newly opened areas are typically made of bamboo and tree bark, but more established and prosperous longhouses can be made of precious and long-lasting hardwoods from the nearby forest. They practice their own democracy in a communal group. They keep the elderly as important rote to make major decisions. The headman who is elected by the people of the entire community of each longhouse. Nowadays, Ibans are well known for their hospitality and friendliness.

The Orang Ulu
The Orang Ulu means upriver people and it had used to mention numerous tribes who live in upriver of inside Sarawak. In fact these groups make up approximately 5.5% of Sarawak's total population. Those tribal groups include also major Kenyah and Kyan tribes as well as the minority groups of Kajang, Kejaman, Punan, Ukit and Penang. The word Orang Ulu nowadays more widely called also to down-river tribes of Lun Bawang, Lun Deyeh, Murut and Berwan as well as the hill tribal Kelabits.

***Note: I sincerely tried to write about Sarawak at a glance and I doubt my post would be covered all about Sarawak.

- Wikipedia
- Sarawak by Robert Hoebel
- Sarawak Tourism Board
- Masama
- Wan (Kuching)

- Courtesy of Sarawak Tourism Board
- Sir Francis Grant from file Wikipedia


ေန႕အိပ္မက္ said...

an interesting place! but whenever i hv a chance 2 know abt other countries' beauty, i only remember beautiful myanmar scene.... :)

Nyi Nyi said...

enriching souls of travel reading this!! Until the next post, Tom!!

Nge Naing said...

သိပ္လွၿပီး သိပ္ကို သဘာ၀က်တဲ့ ရႈခင္းနဲ႔ ပံုေတြကို ေတြ႔လိုက္ရတာ လာလည္ရက်ိဳး နပ္ပါတယ္။ အဂၤလိပ္လိုဆိုေတာ့ ဖတ္ရတာ နည္းနည္းပိုၾကာလို႔ Skim reading ပဲ လုပ္သြားတယ္။

An Asian Tour Operator said...

To daydream: Thanks for your comment. I agree with you.

To Nyi Nyi: You are my audience and I am yours too :-)

To Ma Nge Naing: Skim reading မို႕ေတာ္ေသးတယ္။ တကယ္ေသၿခာဖတ္ရင္ စာလံုးေပါင္းအမွားေတြအမ်ားႀကီးေတြ႕ရမွာ..။ :P

Anonymous said...

ဒီေလာက္ရွာႏိုင္၊ ေရးႏိုင္တာ အခ်ိန္ေပးရက်ိဳးနပ္ပါတယ္ဗ်ာ

Waing said...

Sarawak ထဲက ရွိတဲ့ ေတာရုိင္းတိရစၧာန္ေတြကို လင့္နဲ႕ေထာက္ၾကည္႕မိတယ္ အဲ့ဒီလိုမ်ိဳး တစ္ခါမွ မေတြ႕ဖူးဘူး Clouded Leopard ကေတာ့ အထူးဆန္းဆုံးပဲ တျခားစိတ္၀င္စားဖို႕ေကာင္းတာေတြလည္းဖတ္သြားပါတယ္ မသိတဲ့စာလံုးေတြကမ်ားလုိ႕ Dictoinary သံုးရတယ္
meaning အသစ္ေတြလည္း ပိုသိရပါတယ္ သံုးခဲ၊ ေတြ႕ခဲတဲ့ စာလံုးတခ်ိဳ႕အေပၚမွာ footnote ေလးေတြနဲ႕ ညႊန္းေပးထားရင္ အရမ္းေကာင္းမယ္ေနာ္။ အဂၤလိပ္စာေရာ၊ ခရီးသြားလာေရး ေဒသႏၱရ ဗဟုသုတအားလံုး ပိုတုိးေစတဲ့ အတြက္ ေက်းဇူးအထူးတင္ရွိပါတယ္။ ဆက္လက္အားေပးပါ့မယ္

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asia tour operator said...

I have read some posts and i am going to add this blog to my RSS feed reader.


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