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British colonial rule in Sarawak, 1946-1963

Porritt, Vernon L. (1994) British colonial rule in Sarawak, 1946-1963. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Britain's annexation of Sarawak on 1 July 1946 was not free of controversy. Yet in seventeen years of colonial rule, Sarawak was transformed from the autocracy of the Brookes to an internally selfgoverning state with an elected ministerial form of government. Indeed, the colonial period was one of rapid political, economic and social change for Sarawak.

Britain was committed to uphold the Nine Cardinal Principles of the 1941 Constitution of Sarawak and fulfil the obligations imposed on governing powers of colonial territories under the United Nations Charter. Through a study of British political, economic and social intervention in Sarawak, this thesis charts the successes and failures of colonial rule.

Political intervention introduced state-wide local government with universal suffrage as the foundation for self-government. At the same time, communist aspirations to power were blocked. Economic intervention built up much of the infrastructure to foster economic development. Social intervention registered impressive advances in primary education and general health, especially in the rural areas.

On the other hand, the nexus between poverty and subsistence farming, institutionalised in land classification, was not broken and the slow pace of economic change enforced growing dependence on timber to finance development. Inequalities between urban and rural educational and other social services proved no less intractable and little impression was made on the historical disadvantage of the indigenous rural people vis-a-vis the largely non-indigenous urban dwellers.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Sciences
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Reece, Robert
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