Monday, May 10, 2010

Sarawak's Colonial Legacy

My office in 1978-1979 (Picuture taken yesterday, 10 May, 2010). Previously called " The Pavillion" by the British. Today this building is converted into the 'Sarawak Textile Museum'.
A visit to Kuching City, especially within one kilometer radius of the centrally located Kuching Waterfront will instantly bring back memories of Sarawak's colonial building legacy. I was fortunate to have worked in one of them in 1978-1979 ( picture above) when I was entrusted to be in-charge of the educational radio broadcasting section of the Sarawak Education Department's arm of Educational Mass Media Services. The building where I worked for two years was previously called the "Pavillion". In 1909, the British made the Pavillion as a Medical Headquarters and was converted to the State Education Headquarters in the 1970's. When the Education Headquarters moved into a new and bigger building, it was made to house only the Educational Mass Media section personnels. There I was enjoying a room the size of 20'x 20'. It was luxury to have worked in such a big office and the job was magnificient to me because it enabled me to travel to all the four corners of Sarawak to see and conduct training to teachers on the use of radio lessons which was broadcasted via the airwaves from Kuching to all the nooks and corners of Sarawak's jungles, coasts and deep interiors.
The Round Tower ( A.D. 1886)- functioned as town dispensary when first occupied and in the 1980's it housed a section of the Judicial Department. This building is nearby my EMS office where I used to work.

There is so much of history in Kuching that I've no reservations in declaring that it as one of the most historical cities in Malaysia ( top 5) besides Pulau Pinang ( or "Penang") where the British admiral Francis Light first set up a British settlement in 1786. As for Sarawak its British legacy started with the ex- British India soldier who turned adventurer by the name of James Brooke. In 1839, James Broke arrived in Kuching from Singapore and since then proceeded to establish the Brooke Dynasty ( lasting for about 100 years) before they passed it on to the British Crown colony in 1946, after the Japanese left from having occupied Sarawak for about five years (1941-1946). Of course, as history has it Sarawak together with Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia ( previously British Malaya) formed a new sovereign nation in 1963 called Malaysia and with that achieved independence from the British colonial regime. By all accounts Malaysia's independence was greatly engineered by the British and only half of the struggle is local.

As part of the Brookes and later British colonial legacy, I am amazed to see the permanency of these architectural marvels bearing in mind that at those days buildings were essentially constructed out of bricks alone. Reinforced bars for columns or floors were unheard of then. It is for this reason that these buildings' columns do look massive or bulky. Lately I decided to take and compile pictures of these colonial buildings and they can be seen by clicking the pop-up "pages" below this blog header above, under the page name " Colonial Kuching". Have a browse and enjoy colonial Kuching awhile. I mean you don't have to travel to Kuching to see them yet. Treat these photos as appetisers. Bye for now.


  1. Beautiful snipets of history. I love the architecture of those buildings. Have you been affected by the recent earthquake, I thought of you when I heard it on the radio.;)

  2. Dear Zuzana,
    Not to worry. The quake is a few thousand miles away and we are safe and sound in Sarawak.Have a nice day.Take care.

  3. Keren!
    Artistik sekali bangunannya,,,