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Published: Sunday December 8, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Sunday December 8, 2013 MYT 2:06:29 PM

Historian shares more than just personal stories in new book

Historical memoir: Wan Junaidi (right) launching the book at Tun Jugah Tower in Kuching, with (from left) Linggi and Dr Chanin.

Historical memoir: Wan Junaidi (right) launching the book at Tun Jugah Tower in Kuching, with (from left) Linggi and Dr Chanin.

KUCHING: For Australian historian Dr Eileen Chanin, writing a book about the Limbang Rebellion in Sarawak has personal as well as historical significance.

Her parents-in-law are Dick and Dorothy Morris, who lived and served in Sarawak from 1945 to 1964. Dick Morris was the British resident commissioner in Limbang at the time of the rebel uprising in 1962 and he and his wife owe their lives to the unsung heroes whose stories are told in the book.

Dr Chanin said she was introduced to Sarawak when she first met her husband-to-be and his family in 1970.

“For them Sarawak was special and a place they have never forgotten. They had lived and worked in five divisions. Dick Morris arrived at the time of the Japanese surrender in 1945 and left shortly after independence.

“As a civil administrator, he and his wife made many friendships and never lost their love for Sarawak and its people,” she said during the launch of her book Limbang Rebellion: 7 Days in December 1962 at the Tun Jugah Foundation here yesterday.

On its historical impact, she said the Limbang Rebellion had tipped opinion in favour of the Federation of Malaysia.

“But what happened in Limbang 51 years ago was not just about geopolitics. It was also about bravery, devotion to duty, friendship and loyalty, the things that make this country special.

“Great bravery was shown in Limbang and many ordinary people did extraordinary things to protect and save others in danger,” she said.

For instance, she said the policemen who defended the town’s police station showed great courage and four of them lost their lives on Dec 8, 1962.

Another example was the town’s postmaster who, disguised as a Red Cross worker, helped to care for the hostages taken by the rebels, brought them food, water and blankets, and insisted that those wounded be sent to hospital, thus saving their lives.

“While terrifying, Limbang was also a life-affirming experience and forged life-long bonds,” she noted.

The book draws from eyewitness accounts, letters, diaries and other historical documents to reflect the experiences of those who lived through the rebellion and showed courage, resilience and dignity.

Tun Jugah Foundation chairman Tan Sri Leonard Linggi said the book’s launch was timely in view of Sarawak’s 50th anniversary celebration of independence this year.

“The Limbang Rebellion is a significant part of our history. When the Cobbold Commission came to assess the opinion of the people of Sarawak on the Malaysia plan, the response was initially lukewarm.

“According to many, the rebellion helped to swing opinion towards Malaysia rather than face the threats from the immediate neighbours,” he said.

Moreover, he said the Morrises were close friends of many Sarawakians, including his father, the late Tun Temenggong Jugah.

“I see the book not so much as a war story but as representing the close relationship between the colonisers and colonised.

“It is a record of Sarawak’s unique colonial experience and relates the Morrises’ close relationship with whoever they met,” he said.

Tags / Keywords: East Malaysia, Family & Community, Limbang Rebellion, Dr Eileen Chanin, book, heroes

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