Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Immigrants In Colonial Malaya and Borneo: a pictorial account (2)

The Chinese gold miners in Sarawak

The Chinese were already well established in Sarawak since 1820, mining for gold and antimony. Gold was discovered by them in 1842 in a place called Bau, ( 'Mau San' as the Chinese miners called it) in the Kuching district. They were left very much on their own as the weak Brunei Sultanate exerted only nominal control over Sarawak through its governor. The status quo was soon to change with the arrival of an English adventurer, James Brooke who was made 'Rajah" over Upper Sarawak (which was at that time the Bau district) and Sarawak proper (Kuching) for his help in quelling a rebellion by Land Dayaks (the Bidayuhs) and the Malays over the cruel treatment of the Brunei governor. As governor, James Brooke imposed taxes and forbade the direct export of gold and antimony and direct trading in opium and spirits. Pitting himself against Chinese monopoly over gold and antimony mining, he set up the Borneo Company to exploit the rich mineral resources of Sarawak.

Bau, Kuching: remembering its past

Their livelihood threatened, several miners, six hundred of them, sailed down the Kuching river to the Astana, the residence of Brooke to assassinate him. He somehow escaped by swimming across the Sarawak river, but 5 other Europeans were not so fortunate; they were beheaded by the incensed miners. With the help of Iban warriors, Brooke proceeded to hunt them down. The families of the miners were not spared either. About 2,000 Chinese, including women and children were killed while those fortunate enough escaped to Dutch controlled Borneo. The mining settlement was burnt to the ground. The botched insurrection came to be known as the 1857 Chinese Rebellion.

The Chinese miners in Bau

1 comment:

  1. Ηighly energеtic article, I enjoyеd that bit.
    Will therе be a part 2?

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