Did you know that when plans for electric street lighting were drawn up in Penang and Kuala Lumpur in 1894, the second White Rajah Charles Brooke refused to adopt this new technology?
Despite his misgivings, Sarawak eventually had its first wired telephones installed around Kuching in 1898.
Then in 1914, the Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Company installed the first electrical power stations in Miri, while Borneo Company Limited installed another power station in Bau.
Finally in January 1923, a power station was completed at Khoo Hun Yeang Street and it started operation in June that year.
Today the road where the power station was once located is now known as Power Road, or Jalan Power.
After that, Sibu had its first power station installed in 1927, followed by Mukah in 1929.
From 1922 to 1932, the electrical supply in Kuching was managed by the Electrical Department, under the jurisdiction of the Public Works Department.
On Dec 1, 1928, the Electrical Department put out a PSA in The Sarawak Gazette to remind Sarawakians on how to use electricity wisely and safely.
Here is the PSA in which the department called the Ten Electrical Commandments. Some may be strange to us in 2019 as people who have Earth Day, high electricity bills, and a climate crisis, while a few are still applicable to this day:
1.Thou shalt have no needless drudgery in thy home – delegating to electricity all wearisome tasks.
2.Remember the clear light- leave it burning.
3.Thou shalt not permit the cords of thy appliances to become frayed and worn, and easy prey to short circuit.
4.Thou shalt not allow the frost to gather to an unseemly depth upon the freezing unit of thy refrigerator.
5.Remember thy bag of thy vacuum cleaner to keep it empty.
6.Thou shalt not forget that electricity is cheaper than eyesight, and shalt not use freely of the first to improve the second.
7.Thou shalt not tax thy electric circuits beyond their capacity lest they blow out their fuses.
8.Thou shalt not fail to keep extra lamps in the house against the day when they shall surely be needed.
9.Thou shalt have at least one light in every room controlled by a switch near each door – thus will you save much stubbing of toes and barking of shins.
10.Thou shalt utilise thy toaster and thy percolator and all thy table appliances to the fullest extent, for this wilt thou add to they own comfort and thy family’s enjoyment.