KUCHING: The history of Sarawak is always told with the start of the Brooke’s reign with little knowledge of the previous rulers before him.
Researchers Tom McLaughlin and wife Suriani Sahari became the first to reveal that there were 15 rulers of Santubong before 1840, prior to Brooke’s ruling in 1841.
The rulers were Hyang Gi, Indra Siak, Indra Galam, Indra Sarik, Indra Ragga, Indra Uteh, Indra Simma, Indra Sagat, Indra Junjunan, Saganda Manikam, Indra Lewang, Indra Daha, The First Raja Tengah or Pangiran Tuan Indrana Rajian, The Second Raja Tengah or Ismail Hasanuddin, and The Third Raja Tengah or Sultan Abdul Jalil Muhammad Al Hafiz Zussalam.
The couple first initiated the seven-year research back in 2010, combining both oral history and written sources, and to provide a unique view of the Sarawak River valley from early times to 1840.
Following their findings, the couple published a book titled ‘Sarawak River Valley: Early Times to 1840’ which opens up another dimension of debate in the historical landscape of Sarawak.
According to Suriani, the book aimed to shed light on availability of history that happened before the Brooke Era.
“It is undeniable that there were civilisations before Brooke but there were no written evidence or documentation.
“This research was the first to compile the sources, triangulate and document it so that the people will know the history of Sarawak which goes beyond the Brooke era,” she said.
She said this to reporters after giving a talk on ‘History of Sarawak before 1840’ in the Sarawakiana Talk segment held at the State Library yesterday.
The talk, which was attended by almost 100 people, aimed to tell the story of Sarawak before 1840 which gave insights of the ruling kingdom before Brooke’s reign.
The couple also elaborated on the beliefs of Sarawakians from those times such as tuca (incantations) and the legend of Santubong and Jinjang.
To date, the book has printed 1,000 copies in Malay, while 100 copies in English version will follow suit.
Keen readers may purchase the book from publisher FK Creative Resource Sdn Bhd based in Matang.