1ST DIVISION KUCHING > KUCHING CITY > PLACES OF INTEREST >
CHARLES BROOKE MEMORIAL
|The Brooke Memorial is just in front the Court House. The 6 meter high granite obelisk was commissioned in 1924 to honor the second governor, Rajah Charles Brooke. At the corner of the obelisk is a bronze panel of four figures representing the main races Chinese, Dayak, Kayan and Malay of Sarawak. Behind the memorial was the colonial baroque Clock Tower added in 1883.|
|Kuching's history is also
Sarawak's. Local bookshops are crammed with volumes old and new
describing the reign of the White Rajahs in great detail. What follows is
a brief summary.
At the beginning of the 19th century, Sarawak was a typical Malay principality, under the control of the Sultan of Brunei. Apart from occasional piracy on the coast and headhunting in the interior, Sarawak was peaceful. All of this changed when the Sultan of Brunei appointed a hugely unpopular Governor. The Malays and Bidayuhs of the Sarawak River revolted in 1836 and declared independence. An ugly guerrilla war ensued, which continued until 1839, when James Brooke, a young, wealthy Englishman arrived on the scene in his well-armed yacht, The Royalist.
Brooke set himself up as a freelance adventurer and the Sultan's uncle immediately asked him to help put down the rebellion. Brooke readily agreed. The spears and muskets of the rebels were no match for a modern warship and the conflict soon ended. As a reward, the grateful Sultan made Brooke the Rajah of Sarawak in 1841. Brooke was not content to rule over a small riverside town, and set out to pacify his new kingdom, with the help of the British Navy. At the time of his death in 1868, Sarawak was a relatively peaceful territory covering the area between Tanjung Datu (which is now the Indonesian border) and Kuching.
James Brooke's nephew Charles, who succeeded him, was no adventurer like his uncle, but an excellent administrator and politician. He set up a proper system of government, gradually expanding his area of control until it formed the present day Sarawak. His legacy is everywhere in Kuching. It was he who built the Astana, Fort Margherita, the Courthouse, the Sarawak Museum and many other fine buildings. Charles Brooke died in 1917, and was succeeded by his son, Charles Vyner Brooke, who built on his father's achievements and improved the general administration of the state. In 1941 he set up a State Council to oversee the passing of new laws, bringing the first stirrings of democracy to Sarawak. The rule of the State Council was short-lived, as the Japanese invaded at the end of the same year. When the Japanese surrendered in September 1945, Sarawak came under Australian military administration. Vyner Brooke felt the state would be better off as a colony and ceded it to Britain. This move was very unpopular r and resulted in the assassination of the Governor, Duncan Stewart, in 1949. Order was eventually restored and the colonial administration concentrated on preparing Sarawak for independence. In 1963, Sarawak and Sabah gained independence by joining with Malaya to form the new nation of Malaysia.