Filmmakers out there! If you are running out of ideas to make a movie, here are five Sarawakian true stories that deserve their spots on the big screen!
1.The tragedy of Tanjung Jerijeh
This is a Sarawakian true story similar to James Cameron’s Titanic (1997).
On Dec 27, 1973 at around 2am, a ferry from Kuching heading to Sarikei met with tragedy at Tanjung Jerijeh.
The ferry MV Pulau Kidjang capsized at the mouth of Tanjung Jerijeh about 3.5 nautical miles from Sarikei town.
Widely considered one of the worst tragedies in Sarawak maritime history, the incident took the lives of 121 people, mostly women and children.
Reportedly only 41 bodies were found while the rest are still missing to this day.
2.Circular No. 9
How far would you go to defend your political beliefs? Would you be willing to quit your job for it?
The story starts with the anti-cession movement led by Datu Patinggi Abang Haji Abdillah and Datu Patinggi Haji Mohammad Kassim.
The anti-cessionists were fighting against Sarawak being given over to Great Britain to be ruled as a crown colony, pushing for the Brookes to rule as a protectorate instead.
When Charles Vyner Brooke ceded Sarawak to Britain as a crown colony on Feb 8, 1946, it was in violation of a provision in Sarawak’s 1941 constitution, which stipulated that he would grant Sarawak the right to self-rule.
There were demonstrations all over the country of Sarawak, most of them held by civil servants.
In response, the Governor of Sarawak issued Circular No. 9 warning civil servants that it was illegal to participate in political movements.
In protest, 338 civil servants – mostly made up of teachers – resigned on Apr 2, 1947.
These resignations caused the closure of more than 22 schools in Sarawak.
This Sarawakian true story is a tale of courage and patriotism, something that the current generation needs to be reminded of nowadays.
3.Raid on Limbang
If West Malaysians have their Bukit Kepong incident, here in Sarawak we have the raid on Limbang.
When the idea of the Malaysian federation came out in the late 1950s, many disagreed, including a left-leaning Brunei politician-turned-rebel widely known as A.M. Azahari.
He led the group Brunei People’s Party and the North Kalimantan National Army (TNKU) with ideas for Brunei, North Borneo (Sabah) and Sarawak to form one country.
On Dec 8, 1962, TNKU militants led by Limbang native Salleh Sambas started their attacks on Limbang.
Their assault started at the local police station where they captured several rifles and machine guns.
The raid took the lives of four Sarawakian policemen. They were Corporal Kim Huat from Kuap, PC Wan Jamaluddin Tuanku Alek, PC Insoll Chundang from Saribas and PC Bujang Mohammed from Kuching.
A movie based on this true story would make a good reminder of how courageous our policemen were, even back then.
A film based on the true story of Sergeant Kanang anak Langkau came out in 2017.
Kanang was an Iban warrior and one of Malaysia’s most decorated war heroes who fought bravely during the communist insurgency.
So how about a film on Sarawak women figures? Dato Sri Tra Zehnder was a female pioneer in Sarawak politics.
She held the record for being the first lady member of the State Legislative Assembly (DUN), the first woman to head the Majlis Adat Istiadat Sarawak and she even represented the Sarawak Dayak National Union (SDNU) at the Cobbold Commission meeting.
Furthermore if it weren’t for her, we would not be celebrating Gawai Dayak on June 1 today.
Tra was the one who championed the idea to have Gawai Dayak recognised as an official state holiday.
For most people, SWAT means Special Weapons and Tactics, a paramilitary unit of law-enforcement agency.
Here in Sarawak, the acronym carries a different meaning.
With Sarawak being home to the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), the largest riparian predator in the world, SWAT refers to Sarawak Forestry Corporation’s Swift Wildlife Action Team.
They are the unsung heroes solving human-crocodile conflict in the state.
This special unit was set up in 2013 and was put in charge of crocodile culling and removal all over Sarawak.
A movie inspired by Sarawakian SWAT could look like Black Water (2007), Rogue (2007) and Lake Placid (1999) only with more focus on the work of these brave SWAT officers.
Sarawak’s most famous saltwater crocodile, Bujang Senang or its descendants, can play the villains in the movie.
Do you have any ideas on what Sarawakian true stories that should be made into films? Let us know in the comment box.