Sarawak in detail


After a century of rule by the 'white rajas' and four years of Japanese occupation, Sarawak became a British Crown colony in 1946. At the urging of the British parliament, the territory joined the Malay Peninsula, Sabah and Singapore to form Malaysia in 1963 (Singapore withdrew two years later). At about the same time, neighbouring Indonesia, under the leftist leadership of President Soekarno, laid claim to all of Borneo, including Sarawak, launching a military campaign known as the Konfrontasi (1962–66). Tens of thousands of troops from the UK, Australia and New Zealand were deployed to secure Sarawak’s border with Kalimantan.

The appointment of Adenan Satem as chief minister of Sarawak in 2014 marked the end of the 13-year tenure of Abdul Taib Mahmud. Frequently accused of corruption, and with a personal fortune estimated at US$15 billion, Taib is now the Sarawak state governor.

Unfortunately, Satem died in office in 2017, but throughout his tenure he brought a degree of optimism to the people of Sarawak, and expressed a determination to protect the state's forests from further oil-palm plantations and fight illegal logging and timber-industry corruption.

He was also an advocate of increasing the share of revenue Sarawak receives from oil and gas production within its territory. In 2018 this was pegged at only 5% of the total revenue state-owned Petronas derives from Sarawak's reserves, but negotiations were continuing with Malaysia's new federal government to increase this percentage. Also in 2018, Petros was formed as a Sarawak-based company focused on exploration for and development of new oil and gas fields. For these new fields, 100% of profits will be retained by Sarawak.