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SARAWAK

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V24, Page 208 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SARAWAK, a state situated in the north-west of Borneo; area , 55,000 sq. m.; pop. about 500,600. The coast line extends from Tanjong Datu, a prominent cape in 20 3' N., northwards to the mouth of the river Lawas 5° 10' N. and 115° 30' W., the whole length of the coast line being about 440 M. in a straight line; head-hunting has been entirely suppressed by the government, save for occasional outbreaks among the Dyaks. The government consists of the raja (the succession is hereditary) who is absolute; assisted by a supreme council of seven, consisting of the three chief European officials and four Malay magistrates, nominated by him. There is also a general council of fifty which meets every three years. It includes, besides European and Malay officials, native chiefs chosen from all the principal tribes of the country. The whole country comprises four administrative divisions, each of these being subdivided into several districts. The first division consists of Sarawak proper, which comprises the districts of the river Sarawak, and those of Lundu and Sadong. The second division is formed by the Batang Lupar, Saribas and Kelakah districts. The third division consists of the Rejang, Mukah, Oya and Bintulu; the fourth of the Baram, Limbang, Trusan and Lawas districts. The military force—some 250 men, Dyaks and Sikhs—is under the control of an English command-ant. There is also a small police force, and the government possesses a few small steam vessels. The civil service is regularly organized and pensioned. The superior posts, about 5o in number, are filled by Englishmen. There are both Roman Catholic and Protestant missions in Sarawak, the latter forms part of the see of the bishop of Singapore. Sarawak is easily accessible from Singapore, whence the passage occupies about forty-six hours: steamers run at intervals of seven days. The coast is well lighted, lighthouses having been built and maintained in good order at Tanjong Po, Sirik, Mukah, Oya, Tanjong, Kidurong, Baram Mouth and Brooketon. The climate is equable, the daily temperature ranging on the average between 70° and 9o°. The nights are generally cool. The rainfall averages about 200 in. annually, it is heaviest during the north-east monsoon (October–March), but continues through the south-west monsoon, which blows for the rest of the year. History.—In 1839–184o Sarawak (which then comprised only the districts now constituting the first and second divisions), the most southern province of the sultanate of Brunei, was in rebellion against the tyranny of the Malay officials, insufficiently controlled by the raja Muda Hassim. The insurgents held out at Blidah fort in the Siniawan district, and there Sir James Brooke first took part in the affairs of the territory. By his assistance the insurrection was suppressed, and on September 24th Muda Hassim resigned in his favour and he became raja of Sarawak. In 1843–1844 Captain (afterwards Admiral Sir Henry) Keppel (q.v.) and Raja Brooke expelled the Malay and Dyak pirates from the Saribas and Batang Lupar rivers, and broke up the fleets of Lanun pirates, which, descending from the Sulu Islands and the territory which is now British North Borneo, had long been the scourge of the seas. In 1857 the Chinese, who for many generations had been working the alluvial deposits of gold in Upper Sarawak, sacked Kuching, killed two or three of the English residents and seized the government; Raja Brooke narrowly escaping with his life. His nephew, afterwards raja, quickly raised a force of Malays and Dyaks in the Batang Lupar district and suppressed the insurrection, driving the main body of the rebels out of the Sarawak territory. Raja Sir Charles Johnson Brooke (b. 1829) succeeded his uncle at his death in 1868 ; in 1888 he was created G.C.M.G. and Sarawak was made a British Protectorate, and in 1904 the position of his highness as raja of Sarawak was formally recognized by King Edward. His eldest son, the raja Muda (Charles Vyner Brooke, b. 1874), has for some years taken part in the administration of the country. The extent of the raj of Sarawak, at the time when Sir James Brooke became its ruler, was not more than 7000 sq. m.; since that time the basins of the four rivers, Rejang, Muka, Baram and Trusan, have been added. The sultan of Brunei, who claimed suzerainty over them, ceded them on successive occasions in consideration of annual money payments. A few years after these cessions had been made many of the people of the river Limbang rose in rebellion against the sultan, and their territory was annexed by Sarawak, with the subsequentapproval of the British government. In 1905 the basin of yet another river, the Lawas, was added to the northern end of Sarawak, the territory being acquired by purchase from the British North Borneo Company. See Charles Brooke, Ten Years in Sarawak (1866) ; Gertrude L. Jacob, The Raja of Sarawak (1876); Spencer St John, Life in the Forests of the Far East (1862), and Life of Sir James Brooke (1879); "Notes on Sarawak" in Proc.Roy.Geogr.Soc. (1881), by W.M.Crocker; " In the Heart of Borneo," Proc. Roy. Geogr. Soc. (July 1900), by Charles Hose; and The Far Eastern Tropics (1905), by Alleyne Ireland. (C. H.)
End of Article: SARAWAK
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