Monday, March 14, 2011

Anthony Brooke

Anthony Brooke

Last of the dynastic 'white rajahs' of Sarawak who fell out with his family and the British Government over his plan for independence

For more than a century the kingdom of Sarawak, on the island of Borneo, was ruled by three generations of the Brooke family. The power of the "white rajahs", as they came to be known, end ed only with Sarawak's invasion by the Japanese during the Second World War and its subsequent ceding to Britain. As the Rajah Muda or crown
prince, Anthony Brooke was heir to the throne and the last member of the family to administer Sarawak's government He also led a lengthy campaign for Sarawak's independence.

Brooke's great-great uncle, James Brooke, a former soldier of the Indian Army, was proclaimed the Rajah of Sarawak as a reward by the Sultan of Brunei in 1841. An adventurer and opportunist, he had bought a ship after his army career ended, trained its crew in the Mediterranean, and set sail for the East in the 1830s. After landing in
Kuching, the capital of Sarawak, he earned the Sultan's gratitude — and the title of Rajah— by helping him to quell a rebellion of rival rulers.

The British flag was hoisted in Sarawak — an area half the size of the UK—and James Brooke set about cementing his rule, earning the title 'Tuan

The family saw it as their duty to protect the country's way of life

Besar” or Great Man. His territorial expansions and campaign to stamp out piracy and headhunting drew criticisms of brutality and violence But his exploits made him popular in Britain and on visiting England in 1847 he was hailed as a hero and knighted by Queen Victoria. He was later immortalised in George MacDohald Fraser's sixth Flashman novel, Flashman's Lady.

With no legitimate children of his own, James Brooke chose a nephew, Gharles Brooke, as his successor before his death in 1868. For the next 70 years the Brooke family ruled Sarawak as a sovereign state, in 1888 accepting British control of its foreign affairs.. They saw it as their duty to hold the state in trust for the people of Sarawak and protect their way of life from exploitation.

Anthony Walter Dayrell Brooke was Brooke in 1948 with Sarawak Malays at his home in exile in Singapore where they gathered to oppose the postwar ceding of Sarawak to the British Crown born in England in 1912 to Gladys Palmer and Bertram Brooke, the Tuan Muda of Sarawak, the younger brother of the third Rajah, Charles Vyner Brooke. The previous Rajah had expressed his wish that the brothers should act as joint rulers. While Brooke was young his parents separated, He was educated at Eton and Magdalene College, Cambridge, before studying Malay and Islamic law at the School of Oriental Studies in London.

Brooke was first attached to the Malayan Civil Service, from 1934-36; then the Sarawak Civil Service for the next three years, and was appointed District Officer in Mukah in 1939. His uncle, the Rajah, granted Brooke the title of Rajah Muda and in 1939, in the absence of his uncle, it fell to Brooke to declare war on Germany.

His uncle, announcing that Brooke was "not yet fitted to exercise the
responsibilities of his high position", removed his title. Brooke was reappointed
as a District Officer in Sarikei in 1940. A year later, the pair fell out again over proposals for a new constitution that limited the Rajah's powers. On Christmas Day, while the Rajah was in Australia and Brooke on his way to England to join the British Army, Sarawak was invaded by the Japanese.

In 1945 Sarawak was liberated Brooke was reappointed Rajah Muda and made head of the Provisional Government of Sarawak in London as his uncle withdrew from public life and his father suffered ill health During discussions with the British Government he was keen that the island people be allowed to decide their future.
Instead, in 1946 the Rajah, having dismissed Brooke, handed Sarawak over to Britain as a colony in return for a pension. Brooke then began a five-year campaign, alongside the Malay National Union, the Sarawak Dayak Association and the Sarawak Youth Movement, to restore independence.

His actions angered the British Government, which banned him from entering Sarawak. The Colonial Secretary, Arthur Creech Jones, described him as "a completely irresponsible person". Brooke co-ordinated the campaign from his mother's house in Singapore where he was visited by Sarawak campaigners. However, the movement was weakened in 1949 when a splinter group fatally stabbed Sir Duncan Stew art, the new Governor of Sarawak.

Brooke stepped back from the independence campaign in 1951 in the face of the growing threat of communism. In 1963 Sarawak became part of the Federation of Malaysia. In 1975 Brooke co-founded with his second wife, Gita, a charitable trust called Peace Through Unity, to promote harmony between different cultures. They settled in New Zealand in 1987.

In the early 1990s Brooke returned to Sarawak to campaign for the Penan, a nomadic tribe whose way of life in the rainforest was being destroyed by logging companies.
He is survived by his wife Gita, a son and a daughter, A second daughter predeceased him.

Anthony Brooke, Rajah Muda of Sarawak, was bom on December 10,1912. He died on March 2,2011, aged 98

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