Thursday, 27 June 2013

History can be complicated

There's a widespread view nowadays that European rule of what are now seen as Third World countries was a bad thing. Surely the Europeans were wicked colonisers? Perhaps we brought some good things but, on the whole, we were exploiting other countries and robbing them of their independence.

The White Rajah has, at its centre, the question of whether European rule conferred more benefits or did more harm. Was James Brooke a merchant adventurer, enriching himself at the expense of the natives of Sarawak? Did his paternalistic rule rob them of their independence? And were the military steps he took to maintain his rule legitimate defence or bloodthirsty vengeance?

The book tries to show both points of view. It's interesting, though, to see that at least some of the modern inhabitants of Sarawak have come down very firmly on one side of the argument - and it's not necessarily the one you would expect. A petition on the internet calls on the government of Malaysia to:
remove the labeled of 'Colonizer/Penjajah' to White Rajah of Sarawak in history textbook and other media and platform as it was offensive to Sarawakian and a fake and manipulative facts of history and study material for our young generation. 
In the interests of continuing to keep some sort of balance to the argument, I'll point out that there's a negligible number of signatures as yet. Let's see if that changes.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Tango for London

Looking at the statistics Blogger provides, it seems that posts about tango are particularly popular. So I hope you don't mind me using this post to plug a CD by a friend of mine.

Bianca Vrcan is a professional tango dancer and teacher who hails from Montenegro, but who has been living in London for a long time now. The London tango scene is vibrant and still growing and Bianca wanted to write some music based on her experience of it. The result was 'Tango for London', a CD of very danceable music that reflects her own lively take on the dance. It's available on Amazon. Click on the image to be taken there.

                                        Tango for London

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Borneo 1841 - now

It looks like the fighting in Borneo is definitely over, with the Philippines now planning to prosecute Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III in connection with the invasion of Malaysian territory in February. The political ramifications continue to rumble on, though, with the SSKM (Sabah and Sarawak Out of Malaysia) campaigning to have Sabah and Sarawak leave the Malaysian Federation. In a video asking for support, SSKM dates the formation of modern Sarawak to 1841, when James Brooke was appointed Rajah. The country “fell to British colonialism” in 1946, when Vyner Brooke handed rule to the British. Britain, in turn, passed the country to Malaysia in 1963.

Much of James Brooke’s policy was concerned with protecting the indigenous people of Sarawak from what he saw as some of the iniquities of Malay rule. Over 170 years later, it seems that at least some people in Sarawak are fighting the same battles.