Saturday, January 13, 2007

Demystifying Sarawak's Anti-Cessionist

It is commonly believed that during the attempt to cede Sarawak to the British Crown in 1946, the Sarawakians protested the upcoming cession. While much has been said about the opposition to the cession itself, there was little mention of the real reason why the plan was met with opposition.

The real reason? They want Brooke to stay.

Indeed, this could prove shocking. This reason was not mentioned explicitly in the Form 5 History Textbook (2003). Why would a movement that has been for generations portrayed as 'nationalist' would want Brooke to remain the Rajah of Sarawak? The reason was in the 1941 Draft constitution that will pave way for a self-governing Sarawak. This is what the anti-cessionists want: to have self-rule, the Rajah must be present to assent and make the changes necessary.

But this does not mean that the cession did not have any positive effects on the state's history. Had it still been under the Brooke's rule, the formation of Malaysia will be drastically different from what history has noted. It is possible that Sarawak would have not joined Malaysia at all. Another scenario is that the state could find itself part of the North Borneo Federation, together with Sabah and Brunei and probably under the rule of the Sultan of Brunei.

But the point still stands: Sarawak's anti-cessionists wanted the continuation of Brooke rule and not being part of the British Crown Colony (Sarawak is recognised as an independent state by Britain and became a British Protectorate in 1888); not the image of 'nationalist' as portrayed by Government text books!

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