Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Fort Margherita to focus on Brooke's legacy

KUCHING: Fort Margherita will take people back into Sarawak's past with a focus on the Brooke family's legacy.

Brooke Heritage Trust chairman Jason Brooke said the fort would include a section on the Brooke family history. "We are working with the state and museums on the restoration. We expect the fort to be ready by the end of next year."

The 134-year-old fort was built during the reign of second White Rajah Charles Brooke to protect Kuching from pirate attacks.

It became the Police Museum in 1971 but the police handed it over to the Sarawak Museums because of financial constraints.

The Brooke family ruled Sarawak for more than a century, but many still think of them as a colonialists.

When first White Rajah James Brooke arrived in the state 173 years ago, he came as an adventurer who repelled the pirates who had rebelled against the Brunei sultanate.

For his services, he became the governor who worked with locals and earned the title rajah four years after his arrival.

"The relationship between the locals and my great-great-grandfather, James, made many things possible for Sarawak back then.

"And the first thing he did was eradicating piracy, a problem too difficult for the Brunei sultanate then," said Jason, the great-great-grandson of Charles Brooke.

The trust is working with the state government and Sarawak Museums to educate the younger generation on the relationship between the state and the Brookes during and after their rule.

"There are wrong perceptions about the Brookes as this region was surrounded by colonies, but Sa-rawak was never part of that colony. It was a colony only after World War 2. We have a different story to tell."

As Sarawak celebrates its 50th independence from British rule (July 22) and also its 50th anniversary as part of Malaysia, the state government is working with the Education Ministry to ensure its history is covered in textbooks.

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