As we welcome the Year of the Dog and wish health, happiness and prosperity to our friends, it is good to reflect on the history of Chinese settlement in Sarawak. Rajah Charles Brooke enthusiastically promoted Chinese immigration and encouraged these settlers to plant rice, pepper and smallholder crops. Chinese traders from Singapore were invited by Rajah Charles to locate themselves in Kuching and other urban centres. Over time the efforts of these intrepid pioneers would come to underpin the economy of the fledgling state.
On the Charles Brooke Memorial beside the Old Court House in Kuching are four panels depicting the four communities forming the backbone of the State during Charles Brooke’s reign. The photo attached to this article shows one of the four panels representing Rajah Charles’s deep appreciation of the Chinese community in Sarawak. A replica of this panel can be found at the Brooke Gallery at Fort Margherita.
It is nice to note a certain synchronicity that most, if not all of our Brooke Trust volunteers of Chinese ancestry are descended from these early settlers. In fact, the image on our main news page of Chinese lanterns on display at the Old Court House in Kuching was taken by one such Friend of the Trust, Julie Montgomery, a proud descendant of a pepper farmer who settled in Sarawak in the early 1900s.