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Sarawak Brooke Connection

Anthony's Story continued

1912 - 1919
1919 - 1939
1939 - 1940
1941 - 1945
1945 - 1946
1946 - 1951
Reflections on Brooke Rule
1951 - 1970
1970 - present
Visiting Sarawak 1983 &1991

Discussions breakdown and my provisional government and I are dismissed.

By a remarkable coincidence, the mail that brought the legal Opinion to the London office of the Sarawak Government the morning of 4 October also brought a letter from the Rajah, saying that I had been dismissed from the appointment of Officer Administering the Government of Sarawak and that the Provisional Government of which I was the head, had been dissolved. In my reply to my uncle on the 8 October, I wrote as follows:

I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of Your Highness' letter dated 4th October, 1945, informing me that I have been dismissed from the appointment of Officer Administering the Government, and that the Provisional Government, of which I was appointed to be the head, has been dissolved.

I would remind Your Highness that one of the foremost duties of the Provisional Government, as envisaged in your letter of 18th January, 1945, was to clarify the relationship between His Majesty's Government and Sarawak. The responsibility from the point of view of your Government has not been light, nor its task easy, more particularly in view of the nature of certain proposals put forward by His Majesty's Government which are directly contrary to the terms of the Agreements in force between the two Governments and the decision taken by the Supreme Council in 1941, when similar proposals were put forward and were unanimously rejected; but Your Highness may rest assured that every proposal prejudicial to the interests of the people of Sarawak, or inconsistent with their last mandate, has been strenuously resisted. It is, therefore, perhaps unfortunate that Your Highness should have dissolved your Government at this particular juncture, when a favourable Opinion has been received from learned Counsel which may be expected materially to strengthen Sarawak's position in connection with the discussions now taking place. Although a copy of the Opinion is on record in this office, I am taking the liberty of sending for Your Highness' perusal a further copy, since I feel sure you will agree that the value for Sarawak of such a favourable Opinion from learned Counsel cannot be over-estimated.

In regard to the future, may I assure Your Highness that no matter what may have been the reason for your refusal to see me, it is my most earnest hope that in a short while you may feel disposed to reconsider your decision, so that the unexplained mysteries of the events of the past few weeks may be happily resolved, and I may give Your Highness a detailed account of the political discussions now to be continued by Your Highness and your new Government, the outcome of which will be so vital for the people of Sarawak, and which will remain indelibly recorded on the pages of Sarawak history.
I have the honour to be, Rajah,
Your Highness' most humble obedient Servant,
(signed) Anthony Brooke,
Rajah Muda."

Vyner declares himself in favour of Sarawak becoming a British Colony

It appears that Vyner at this point decided that the best future for Sarawak was to become a British Crown Colony, notwithstanding the fact that any arbitrary act towards that end would be to violate the established rights of his brother Bertram and, not least, the rights of the peoples of Sarawak. Nevertheless, on the 6 February 1946, the Colonial Secretary announced in the British Parliament that Rajah Vyner had decided to cede his country to the British Crown.

My father Bertram and his older brother Vyner had throughout their lives remained on affectionate terms with one another. However, their relationship was strained to breaking point when Vyner (March 1946) wrote to my father, declaring that he did not feel bound by his father's "Political Will", and that "it is what a Rajah does in his lifetime that matters".

The deep hurt and sorrow felt by his frail and indisposed brother is clearly shown in Bertram's response:
"I know that although you signed it your letter of 9th March is not your own. I could not bear to think that it was. Our father's Will imposed a solemn trust upon you; you took an equally solemn oath to carry out that trust and it shocks me that you have now been persuaded to break your oath and to say the Will is not binding.
Do please believe that you are being most terribly misled and do, I beg you, abstain from a course of conduct which will, I am convinced, drag your name in the mud for all time."

Anthony's father, Bertram, at the time of the anti-cession movement

Mounting opposition in Sarawak to Vyner's attitude and to annexation by Britain

The Press rang me up the same morning that the announcement was made in the British Parliament. I stated that neither my father nor I had been consulted. and added: "I will fight tooth and nail to ensure that the people of Sarawak will be properly consulted about their future form of government". And so began the 5-year anti-cession movement.

Messages began to arrive, mainly from the Malay National Union and the Sarawak Dayak Association, two associations that had come into being with the primary purpose of protesting against Sarawak becoming a British Colony. The messages affirmed the rights of my father and myself as rightful heirs to the Raj, and invited us to come out to Sarawak to confirm for ourselves what the people really wanted.

Among the messages was the following telegram, dated 7 June 1946, from Datu Patinggi and Presidents, Malay Union and Dayak Association of Sarawak to Rajah Muda, 31, Prince Albert Road, Regent's Park, N.W.8:

"Dayak and Malay communities throughout Sarawak protest against false report regarding cession. We stand resolutely against cession and strongly and wholeheartedly desire Raj of Sarawak must not be ended. We invoke Atlantic Charter points 2 and 3 to uphold our cause for sake of international justice and integrity. We request Your Highness and your honoured father to intercede to champion for retention of Sarawak's independence intact, if necessary even to United Nations Organisation till success is achieved. We pledge and reaffirm our full support and allegiance. Please contradict report detrimental to independence of Sarawak by using this statement which we freely empower Your Highness to use for broadcast or publication. If our independence is violated, what do the Atlantic Charter, United Nations' Organisation and Political Will of Sir Charles Brooke stand for?"

My father was in ill health at the time, but I promised to do everything possible to visit Sarawak.

Since in the immediate post-war years the British Government controlled all passages abroad, a visit to Sarawak by me seemed to present real difficulties. My return to Sarawak would not be favoured by the British Government.


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