Sunday, March 25, 2007

This is our Sarawak's swish-buckling hero, Rajah James Brooke, founding father of our early democratic institutions.

He was the Englishman, a war veteran who made our forefathers free from the yoke of slavery and despotic tyranny. His Court of Justice ensured native rights were well-protected for many years. His court dispensed justice and upheld the rule of law without fear or favor.

He sailed to Borneo on his sailing ship, The Royalist in 1839 and at the request of Rajah Muda Hassim, the Sultan of Brunei's uncle, quelled a major long-standing rebellion. As a reward for his help, he was given Sarawak.

On September 24th, 1841, he was made rajah and governor of Sarawak.

I, James Brooke, Esquire, Rajah of Sarawak, make known to all men the following laws:
1st Murder, robbery and other heinous crimes will be punished accord to the ondongondong (i.e. the written law of
Sarawak); and no person committing such offences will escape if, after fair enquiry, he be proved guilty.

2nd In order to ensure the good of the country, all men, whether Malays, Chinese, or Dyaks, are permitted to trade or labor according to their pleasure, and to enjoy their gains.

3rd All roads will be open, that the inhabitants at large may seek profit both by sea and by land; and all boats coming from others are free to enter the river and depart; without let or hindrance.

4th Trade, in all its branches, will be free, with the exception of antimony-ore, which the Rajah holds in his own hands, but which no other person is forced to work , and which will be paid for at proper prices. The people are encouraged to trade and labour, and to enjoy the profits which are made by fair and honest dealing.

5th It is ordered that no person going amongst the Dyaks shall disturb them, or gain their goods under false pretences. It must be clearly explained to the different Dyak tribes, that the revenue will be collected by the three Datus, bearing the seal of the Rajah; and (except this yearly demand from the government ) they are to give nothing to any other person; nor are they obliged to sell their goods except as they please, and at their own prices.

6th The Rajah shall shortly inquire into the revenue, and fix it at a proper rate;so that everyone may know certainly how much he has to contribute yearly to support the government.

7th It will be necessary, likewise, to settle the weights, measures, and money current in the country, and to introduce doits, that the poor may purchase food cheaply.

8th The Rajah issues these commands, and will enforce obedience to them; and whilst he gives all protection and assistance to the persons who act rightly, he will not fail to punish those who seek to disturb the public peace or commit crimes; and he warns all such persons to seek their safety, and find some other country where they may be permitted to break the laws of God and man.

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