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.

1 comment:

  1. these days we call all 3 of these Rajah "Lanun or Pirate".