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Sarawak At A Glimpse

Updated on October 4, 2008

Lundu

Through my hobby surfing the internet, I stumble upon this unique and informative web-page, which is written and done by Mr.OTTO CHRISTOPH STEINMAYER, a man from US, who is working in Sarawak and married to an Iban lady from Lundu. His web-page, or blog can be view as : http://www.ikanlundu.com. Please feel free to surf, and a lots of interesting information can be obtain from this web-page. Thank you.

Jason Brooke fulfills life-time dream

By Marilyn Ten ( Journalist: www.theborneopost.com)

The great grandson of the Third Rajah of Sarawak says his trip to Sarawak has been a memorable one and he is glad he has finally fulfilled his cherished dream of visiting the Land of the Hornbills

JASON Brooke grew up listening to fascinating stories about Sarawak from both his father and grandfather.

But at first, young Jason, only 7 then, thought the stories seemed a little far-fetched.

"I didn't have a clue where Sarawak was at the time but I remember being told my great grandfather, Charles Brooke, was the second White Rajah of Sarawak (1868 to 1917)," he recalled.

The Brookes ruled Sarawak from 1841 to 1946 before their dynasty came to an end with the cession of the state to the British Crown after the Second World War.

Speaking to thesundaypost during a tea reception at Sarakraf Pavilion in Kuching, Jason, now 23, related that apart knowing about Sarawak from mementos such as the old state flag and various old swords and shields kept by his father, who lived here as an infant in 1940, he was also taken on a historical journey of Sarawak through hundreds upon hundreds of photos shot during the Brooke era to familiarise himself with his family's history.

"Perhaps, I was still too young to appreciate what I was told but after listening to all the fascinating stories over the years, you could say they re-kindled my interests," he said.

By his early teens, Jason began showing more interest in Sarawak, reading up all about the state from his family's collection of books on the Far East.

He also got in touch with those who knew about his family, including the authors of some of the books he had been reading - such as Vincent Foo who penned the "Sarawak Steamship Company" and "A History of Sarawak Club."

Jason was also actively involved with the Sarawak Association based in the United Kingdom which will mark its centennial celebration in 16 years. Membership is drawn from British expatriates who had served in the state as well as Sarawakians.

From then on, he began immersing himself in everything about the Land of the Hornbills ...so much so that when he set foot on Kuching for a three-week visit recently, he felt as though he had already been here before.

"Kuching definitely looks bigger than I pictured. But I'm also quite thrilled to see a lot of the old buildings from the photographs my father showed me still around," Jason said.

His great grandfather's legacy remains intact and many of the colonial buildings built during his reign such as the Astana and the Fort Margherita have become landmarks of Kuching, now the capital city of Sarawak.

During his stay, Jason visited various places of interest in Kuching, including the Sarawak Museum, the Sarawak Cultural Village, the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, the Old Courthouse and Fort Margherita, to mention a few.

He said he was to able to know more about these historical places by visiting them personally.

"It's quite exhilarating to find most of the colonial buildings still being put to good use as museums and they are well-maintained."

For Jason who presently lives in Dublin, Ireland, and who has just completed his degree in English Literature at University College Dublin, the visit to Fort Margherita was quite an emotional experience as he was able to see for himself the Brooke burial ground.

This burial ground by the riverbank near the Astana has been relocated to a new site in front of Fort Margherita this year to make way for the new State Legislative Assembly complex.

While in Kuching, Jason met a number of people, including those who knew or had worked for his grandfather, Anthony Brooke.

"My grandfather used to share with me his memories of Sarawak - mainly on how he used to travel to rural areas and meet people. He would also give toys to small children there. This was in 1939," he reminisced.

"When he returned for a visit in1965, an old man came up to him and asked "Do you remember me? You gave me toys when I was little." So, he was quite touched people still recognised him."

Anthony Brooke was the heir apparent and nephew of the Third Rajah, Sir Vyner Brooke. He was banished from Sarawak after the end of the Second World War for opposing the cession of the Rajah's territory to the British Crown but was allowed to return 17 years later after Sarawak attained independence through Malaysia. Aged 96, he now lives in New Zealand.

Jason is the youngest Brooke descendant to visit Sarawak since the state attained independence 45 years ago.

"I'm glad I decided to wait till I've reached the right age to visit Sarawak. I always felt I should wait until I'm old enough to appreciate Sarawak and its cultures rather than coming here as a teenager."

"But three weeks is not enough for me to see the whole of Sarawak. There are so many things I want to see and do," said Jason, who promised to return soon.

"This trip has definitely been memorable and I'm glad I have finally fulfilled my dream of visiting Sarawak."

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