Monday, May 23

Chronology: Long road to self-governance



Beginning of the Sarawak Rebellion (against the Sultan of Brunei) led by Sarawak chief Datu Patinggi Ali.



James Brooke arrives in Kuching on the Royalist carrying a message of thanks and presents from the Governor of Singapore to Rajah Muda Hassim in Sarawak. He returns later and at the request of the Rajah Muda Hassim, the Sultan of Brunei, suppresses the rebellion.



Sept 21

Brooke made rajah and governor of Sarawak.



The battle of Marudu Bay sees Brooke enlisting the help of the British Royal Navy in Singapore to defeat Sherif Osman, a pirate leader from North Borneo, effectively ending his piracy.



Sultan of Brunei, unhappy with the English and Brooke, orders the killing of Englishmen and everybody in Brunei close to Brooke, including Rajah Muda Hassim, his brother Badruddin and other leaders in Brunei. Brooke attacks Brunei in retaliation. Assisted by the British navy, they capture the city. The Sultan is allowed to return to his palace after surrendering. In addition, he gives Sarawak completely to Brooke and his heirs forever without payment of any more money. In memory of Rajah Muda Hassim and Badruddin, Brooke names two streets in Kuching after them. Later, two of his nephews, James and Charles Johnson come to Sarawak to help him. James is given the title Tuan Besar and later, Rajah Muda. Charles Johnson is called the Tuan Muda and changes his name to Charles Brooke when he becomes the second rajah of Sarawak.



The Battle of Beting Maru sees Brooke defeating Iban pirate chief Linggir. Some 75 boats and 3,500 men fought on Brooke’s side. Brooke builds forts at Lingga and the mouth of the Skrang River on Batang Lupar to prevent more attacks.



The United States recognises Sarawak as a sovereign nation.



Sarawak’s territory extended to the Krian River.



Brooke starts the Supreme Council made up of a small group of important officers to help him govern the country.



Kuching sacked by Chinese rebels. Six hundred Chinese miners from Bau sailed down the Sarawak River at night to attack the Astana, government buildings and the fort. Much of Kuching was razed to the ground except for the Chinese areas. Brooke retaliates by enlisting the help of loyal Malays. Charles sails quickly from Lingga with Iban soldiers. The rebels retreat up river and are chased to Bau and to the Dutch Borneo border where they try to escape to Sambas and Pontianak. As many as 1,000 Chinese rebels and their families are killed.



After their defeat at sea, pirates led by an Iban named Libau or better known as Rentap, moved further inland to continue attacking villages and taking heads. From his Bukit Sadok fort, he leads his men to attack villages or the Rajah’s forts along the Batang Lupar. After two unsuccessful counter-attacks, Charles becomes more determined to capture Rentap’s fort at Bukit Sadok. He builds a twelve-pounder cannon in Kuching which takes 500 men to pull through the jungle to Bukit Sadok. Once there, 60 of his strongest men lift the cannon on poles and carry it to the top of Bukit Sadok 3,000 feet high. The cannon fire penetrates Rentap’s sturdy fort made of thick belian wood. They discover, however, that the pirate leader has run off into the jungle and burn his fort. Rentap is never to be heard of again.



Sarawak is extended to Kidurong Point.



The Sarawak regiment is created.



Sarawak Dollar introduced.



Britain recognises Sarawak as an independent principality.



Charles forms the Council Negri which include people in the Supreme Council, other officers of the rajah’s government and the most important native chiefs.



Council Negri holds its first meeting in Sibu.



James Brooke is succeeded by his nephew Charles. Brooke returns to England due to ill health and dies there.



Sarawak begins issuing postage stamps.



Sarawak Gazette begins publication.



The name of the town of ‘Sarawak’ is changed to Kuching where it reportedly gets its name from a small brook which ran into the Sarawak River near the present Chinese Chamber of Commerce Building at the end of Main Bazaar.



Sarawak extended to Baram River.



Great fire of Kuching.



Acquisition of the Limbang area, from Brunei.



Sarawak declared a British protectorate.



Limbang added to Sarawak.



Opening of the Sarawak Museum.



Oil discovered in Sarawak.



Acquisition of the Lawas Region, from Brunei.



Charles Vyner Brooke succeeds his father Charles as Rajah.


Sarawak Penal Code introduced.



Penghulu Asun leads a small rebellion among the Ibans against the government in the headwaters of the Kanowit, Entabai and Julau rivers. Vyner Brooke sends a police expedition up the Kanowit River and captures Asun and most of the other leaders. Fort Brooke is built at Nanga Meluan on the Kanowit River.



Kuching Airport opened.



Written constitution granted.



Sarawak has a population of 490,000.

Dec 16

Japanese occupy Miri.

Dec 19

Japanese bomb Kuching.

Dec 24

Japanese attack and capture Kuching.



Japanese occupation.

August 14, 1945

Japanese surrender.

Sept 11, 1945

Australian forces liberate Sarawak.



Sarawak is put under Australia’s military administration.

May 1946

Council Negri meets to talk about cession to British government, and they agree that Sarawak should become a colony by a vote of 19 to 16.

July 1, 1946

Government passes a law that accepts Sarawak as a British Crown Colony and becomes one that very year.



Governor Duncan Stewart is assassinated.



Sarawak gets a new constitution which changes the size and powers of the Council Negri. Council Negri is increased to 45 members.



First general election held in Sarawak.



May 27

Tunku Abdul Rahman, Prime Minister of Persekutuan Tanah Melayu, at a Foreign Correspondents’ Association of Southeast Asia press conference in Singapore, says the Federation of Malaya should have a close understanding with Britain and the people of Sarawak, Brunei and Sabah.

June 20

Sir Harold Macmillan, British Prime Minister, in a reply to a question in Parliament, says he is interested in the suggestion made by Tunku.

July 1

Tunku Abdul Rahman accompanies the Yang Di- Pertuan Agong of Malaya to officially visit Brunei and Sarawak.

July 9

Azahari (Partai Rakyat Brunei), Ong Kee Hui (Sarawak United People’s Party) and Donald Stephens (Sabah) establish the United Front and disagree with the proposal by Tunku Abdul Rahman and Britain.

July 12

Tunku Abdul Rahman exposes communist threats in South East Asia as an important factor in his proposal.

July 22

Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore chief minister, proposes that representatives from Sarawak, Brunei and Sabah present their views at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) on the Malaysia proposal.

July 28

Establishment of the Malaysia Solidarity Consultative Committee (MSCC) in Singapore during the CPA Conference.

August 12

First visit of leaders from Sarawak and Sabah – Datu Bandar Abang Mustapa, Temenggong Jugah, Donald Stephens and Dato Mustapha – to Malaya to see the progress for themselves. Many such visits are organised for leaders in Sarawak and Sabah up till the formation of Malaysia.

August 24

MSCC holds its first meeting in Jesselton (now Kota Kinabalu) in North Borneo (Sabah). Brunei did not attend.

October 16

A motion for the formation of Malaysia is tabled in Parliament by Tunku Abdul Rahman and is approved.

November 23

Malaya negotiates with Britain to amend the Defence Agreement to expand British assistance when Malaysia is formed and to maintain their army camps. Malaya and Britain negotiate and agree on the setting-up of an investigative commission on the formation of Malaysia.


Parti Barisan Anak Jati Sarawak (Barjasa) is registered. Political parties formed earlier are the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) on June 12, 1959, Parti Negara Sarawak (Panas) on April 9,1960 and Sarawak National Party (SNAP) on April 10, 1961. These older parties are formed for local council and district elections that started in 1959.

December 18

MSCC holds its second meeting in Kuching. Brunei attends only as observer.

December 20

The stand of Sarawak and Sabah shifts from opposing to bargaining on issues such as representation in parliament, freedom of religion, national language, civil service, immigration and economic development.



January 4

British colonial government in Sarawak publishes a White Paper on Sarawak’s consent for Malaysia and the establishment of an investigative commission proposed by the governments of Malaya and Britain on November 23, 1961. The White Paper is translated into local dialects and widely distributed in Sarawak.

January 8

MSCC holds its third meeting on constitution and politics in Kuala Lumpur. A decision is reached to produce all the proceedings for public consumption just as the British colonial government had done in Sarawak.

January 31

British colonial government in Sabah produces a White Paper, similar to the one published in Sarawak. It is also translated into local languages and distributed widely.

February 1

MSCC holds its fourth and last meeting in Singapore.

February 3

All MSCC delegates sign a memorandum of proposals and recommendations which is then published in Sarawak and Sabah. The Cobbold Commission is set up to seek the views of the people of Sarawak and Sabah on the formation of Malaysia. Members of the commission are Lord Cobbold (chairman), Sir Anthony Abell and Sir David Watheraton (British representatives), and Wong Pow Nee and Ghazali Shafie (representatives of Malaya).

February 19

The Cobbold Commission arrives in Kuching to begin public hearings at 35 centres.

March 6

Deputy Prime Minister of Malaya, Tun Abdul Razak, said at that time only Britain and the Philippines were involved in the territorial claims over Sabah.

April 17

The Cobbold Commission completes its task in Sarawak and flies to Jesselton to continue its investigations at 15 centres in Sabah.

May 24

The British government sends a memorandum to the ruler of the Philippines on its claim to a part of Sabah. The other part was previously under the Brunei sultanate, particularly along the west coast.

June 22

The ruler of the Philippines sends a note to the British government on its claim over Sabah.


The Cobbold Commission sends its report to the government of Malaya and Britain.

July 18

Sultan Omar Ali Saifudin, Sultan of Brunei, declares that Brunei will join Malaysia separately from Sarawak and Sabah.

July 20

Parti Pesaka formed.

August 1

Negotiations on the Cobbold Report between Malaya led by Tunku Abdul Rahman and his colleague from Britain to announce the formation of the Federation of Malaysia on August 31, 1963 after it is approved by their respective legislatures.

August 30

Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) holds a preparatory meeting in
Jesselton, Sabah, and sets up its headquarters there. Sabah political parties submit the 20 Points claim to Tun Abdul Razak and Lord Landsowne in Jesselton.



February 11

Dr Subandario, Indonesia Foreign Minister, officially objects to the formation of Malaysia.

February 23

IGC submits Reports to the Governments of the Four Parties Concerned – Britain, Malaya, Sarawak and Sabah. The IGC Report is published.

March 8

Sarawak State Legislative Assembly unanimously adopts the recommendations in the IGC Report.

March 13

Sabah State Legislative Assembly adopts recommendations in the IGC Report.


Sarawak local council elections are held until June.

May 15

Third Rajah Sir Charles Vyner Brooke passes away in England.

May 31

Tunku Abdul Rahman and Sukarno, President of the Republic of Indonesia, negotiate in Tokyo for an agreement on the formation of Malaysia and to stop Indonesia from sending her army into Sarawak and Sabah.

June 18

The Sarawak Flag uses the old flag with a crown in the centre.

June 19

The results of the election are announced – Alliance 78, Independent 67, SUPP 16 and Panas 11.

June 20

31 Independent legislators join Alliance, bringing the tally to 119.

July 9

The Malaysia Agreement is reached by Britain, Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah. Brunei withdraws at the last moment. It is signed by Temenggong Jugah, Dato Bandar Abang Mustapa, Abang Openg, Ling Beng Siew and PEH Pike. From Sabah are Donald Stephens, Dato Mustapha, Khoo Siak Chiew, G S Sundang, WS Holley, and WKH Jones. From Singapore are Lee Kuan Yew, and the representatives of Malaya and Britain are Tunku Abdul Rahman and Harold Macmillan respectively.

July 19

British House of Commons approves the Malaysia Bill to enable Sarawak and Sabah to form Malaysia.

July 22

Stephen Kalong Ningkan chosen as the first Chief Minister of Sarawak along with the state’s first cabinet.

July 30

Tunku Abdul Rahman, Sukarno and Macapagal meet at the Manila Summit.

August 5

Manila Summit ends resulting in Manila Declaration in which the three countries agree to form a new confederation called Maphilindo (short for Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia). There is also a Manila Accord in which the three countries agree to work together politically, economically, socially and culturally. Philippines and Indonesia request that the Secretary General of the United Nations get the views of the people of Sarawak and Sabah on the formation of Malaysia.

August 8

Sabah Legislative Assembly unanimously passes the Merdeka motion to join Malaysia and also approves the Malaysia Agreement.

August 15

Parliament of the Federation of Malaysia approves the Malaysia Agreement.

August 16

United Nations Malaysia Mission (UNMM) arrives and carries out its task to get the opinion of the people of Sarawak and Sabah until September 5, 1963. Their arrival is also met with anti-Malaysia protestors at Kuching Airport.

August 18

Indonesian soldiers and insurgents invade Sungai Bangkit in Song, resulting in a casualty.

August 19

The merdeka celebration is postponed from August 31 to September 16.

August 26

Yang Di-Pertuan Agong of Malaya approves the Malaysian constitution.
August 27

Demonstrations against Malaysia in Sibu in connection with the arrival of the UNMM team.

August 29

Yang Di-Pertuan Agong signs the Malaysia Declaration, fixed on September 16, 1963. Anti-Malaysia protest in Miri on the arrival of the UNMM team results in a clash with the police.

August 30

UNMM team arrives in Limbang, its last stop.

September 1

UNMM representative, Lawrence Michelmore, meets representatives from Alliance and SUPP at the State Legislative Assembly chambers.

September 4

Sarawak Legislative Assembly approves Malaysia motion with 38 votes for and five against. Stephen Kalong Ningkan tables the motion which states: “Be it resolved that this Council reaffirms its support for Malaysia, endorses the formal agreement which was signed in London on the 9th July and, while regretting that the Federation of Malaysia could not be brought into being on the 31st August, welcomes the decision to establish it on the 16th September, 1963.”

September 11

Stephen Kalong Ningkan and three ministers as well as 10 members of the Alliance fly to Kuala Lumpur to meet the Prime Minister and the Secretary of the Colony of Britain, Duncan Sandys.

September 13

UNMM presents its report. “The Mission is satisfied that through its hearings it was able to reach a crosssection of the population in all walks of life and that the expressions of opinion that it heard represent the views of a sizeable majority of the population. The Mission is convinced that the time devoted to hearings and the number of localities visited was adequate and enabled it to fully carry out its terms of references.” Sir Alexander Waddell announces that Datu Tun Abang Openg is appointed by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong as the first Yang Di-Pertua of Sarawak beginning from Malaysia Day. Temenggong Jugah Barieng is appointed to the Federal Cabinet as the Sarawak Affairs Minister.

September 15

Dr M Sockalingam is appointed as the Speaker of the Sarawak Dewan Undangan Negeri.

September 16

Tun Abang Openg is sworn in as the first Yang Di-Pertua Negeri Sarawak. Prime Minister of Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman reads the Proclamation of Malaysia in front of the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, Raja- Raja Melayu and thousands of citizens at Stadium Merdeka to mark the birth of a new country named, the Federation of Malaysia. Khir Johari reads Proclamation of Malaysia as the representative of the Prime Minister at Central Padang (now Padang Merdeka), Kuching.



April 23

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem declares July 22 as Sarawak Day in honour of past leaders who sacrified much for the state’s independence at the final stop of the Sejiwa Senada programme in Metrocity Matang.

May 21

July 22 officially gazetted as a public holiday in the Sarawak Government Gazette following a statement from the State Administrative Unit of the Chief Minister’s Department.

July 22

First Sarawak Day celebration held at the Kuching Waterfront.