Sarawak celebrates its 175th birthday come Sept 24


KUCHING: Autonomy advocacy group Negara Sarawak has called for the remembrance of Sarawak’s 175th anniversary of its founding by James Brooke on Sept 24, 1841.

The group’s spokesperson, Lina Soo, told reporters that Sarawak was a sovereign state long before the existence of Malaya, having being recognised by the United States in 1850 and the United Kingdom in 1864.

Soo, who is president of Parti Reformasi Sarawak (STAR), said Sarawakians must learn to recognise the birthday of Sarawak’s founding.

“The 175th anniversary is a milestone.

“Sarawakians should know our own birthday, or our own history will be lost,” Soo told reporters in
Kuching today.

Soo said Negara Sarawak members hoped the state government would recognise the significance of the birthday and eventually celebrate the 200th anniversary with the pomp it deserves.

Soo said to mark the occasion, members would hold a flag-raising ceremony in Sibu. The group added that it would be selling commemorative T-shirts at RM30 each.

Sarawak was carved out of the Brunei Sultanate on Sept 24, 1841 when British adventurer James Brooke was given the right to rule the territory between Tanjung Datu to the Samarahan River.

This area was eventually named “Sarawak” after the town Brooke made his capital, ultimately
renamed “Kooching” in turn.

Sarawak gained independent sovereign status, recognised by the United States of America on Oct 24, 1850 and by the United Kingdom in 1864.

“We hope we will live long enough until Sept 2041, 25 years from now, to be able to witness Sarawak’s 200th birthday, Sarawak’s second centenary.

“By then, our government will celebrate it on a grand scale as 200 years will be a most auspicious milestone,” added Soo.

A British privateer, James Brooke, was granted the sizeable area of land by the Brunei Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin II in exchange for combating piracy in Borneo.

Under Brooke and his successor, nephew John Brooke, the Kingdom of Sarawak rapidly expanded, taking up much of the north region of Borneo.

James’ grandnephew, Vyner Brooke, ceded Sarawak to the British in 1946. The three were collectively known as the White Rajahs. - FMT

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