Friday, March 24

Ritchie launches 30th book documenting Baram history


Antonio (front row in black suit) receives a copy of the book from Ritchie in the presence of others including those helping in compiling the book.

Ritchie (seated) signs the Kelabit book bought by friends and supporters.

MIRI: Journalist James Ritchie has unveiled his 30th book entitled ‘Journey into the Central Highlands of Borneo – The Kelabit Leap of Faith’ – documenting the history of Baram since 1883, from a local perspective.

Resident Antonio Kahti Galis praised the author for painstakingly writing the book that covered the cession of Baram to the Brooke government in 1883, the Baram Peace-Making in 1899 and the massacre of 200 Kalimantan Muruts by the Brooke regime in 1905.

“More local writers should emulate James especially in writing books on the various races in the state. Associations should take the lead in engaging writers to write more about Sarawak in particularly their respective races,” he said.

Several writers, advisors, editors and contributors like Lucy Bulan, Dr Roland Dom Mattu, Dr Philip Raja, Gerawat Nulun Tuan, Solomon Bulan, Roland Satu and John Urud also shared their opinions about the book.

“I must give great respect to James for this book in highlighting history particularly the roles of the Kelabits and other Dayaks in Borneo in joining the Allied Force to fight the Japanese during World War 11.

By God’s grace, we supported the Allied Forces besides trusting the missionaries in spreading their works that consequently enable us to gain the freedom we are enjoying today,” said Dr Roland.

“To compile 568 pages of book like this about the Kelabits is no easy task. Thank you to James who is not only dedicated in his research and writings but also one who is close to the people,” said Dr Philip Raja, the deputy chairman of Rurum Kelabit Sarawak.

Ritchie meanwhile thanked everyone for making the book a reality, which he said was launched to coincide with the week to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Allied Forces led by Major Tom Harrison and his Bario Semut operatives landing in Bario on March, 23, 1945, to fight the Japanese.

When met later, Ritchie said he was hoping that the state government would make some efforts to encourage more people, especially locals, to write about Sarawak.

“It is high time the government sets up a fund for writers or journalists to write about Sarawak.

“For this 30th book of mine I spent RM35,000 just to print 650 copies. Initially, I wanted to print 1,000 copies but I did not have enough money. Besides, I have several more books coming up,” he said.

Today, he will launch the same book at Telang Usan Hotel in Kuching.

The book is sold at RM70 a copy and for each book purchased he will offer a free copy of either ‘Bakun-Who gives a Dam’, ‘Limbang-Crown Jewel of the North’, ‘Abdul Taib Mahmud – 50 Years in the News’ or ‘Temenggong Oyong Lawai Jau – The Legacy’.