Sarawak Gazette

Wednesday, August 29, 2007 | | 7 comments »

It is quite traditional for an institution, of which the Gazette is but one, to attune to the changing of the Guard. With the March issue emerged a new sentry whose claim to the editorship of this monthly journal, purely rests on the rather uncomfortable fact that he is very much alive, and at this particular point in time. No other reason seems plausible when adjudged against the question of merit. With it also departed the immediate past editor to whom we owe our gratitude‑for to him it was that the continued existence of the Gazette bore record.

It is also customary that the changing of the Guard affords a time of review and in the case of the Gazette this coincides with the coming of age when this journal, by September this year joins a list of those that celebrate their centenary.

When the Gazette was founded in 1870, it was designed to fulfil the threefold purpose of registering Government acts, diffusing news and providing a forum of discussion. In all of these it acquitted itself most admirably; the issues from 1870 to the first World War provided a treasure trove of information and the curiosity of the whiteman in the intriguing web of "primitive" culture produced a store of learned contributions on all aspects of Sarawak life. The "Government Gazette" as distinct from the "Sarawak Gazette" was published in 1908 and with its establishment, the old Gazette lost its primary function of registering Government Acts. Also, following the more regular arrival of the Singapore Press in the 1920s, the news content began to diminish. The atrophy of the Society generally during the 1930s somewhat bore is impact also on the copies of Gazette for it was this situation rather than the shortcoming of its editors which must have caused in the main, the serious fallings off of contributions of any value and the absence of articles on subjects of historic or ethnological interest which so attract the reader of the earlier issues.

In modest fashion, the Gazette experienced a certain revival after the Second World War. It began a cautious reflection of the wider horizon and larger purpose of the new Government. But here its operations became increasingly more circumscribed. The press, Radio and the Information Service took over many of its former functions. In the end it has been left with administrative reports and learned contributions; the ii latter, alas, have not been forthcoming in any number in recent issues. It may well be questioned then what future has the Gazette.

The demands for news and propaganda are exhausted by the press and the Information Service and there is no purpose in seeking to duplicate these necessary functions in the pages of Gazette. Learned articles of a technical character properly find their outlet in the "Museum Journal" or the "Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society". What need then, can the Gazette fulfil today ? There is a need which has not yet been met, namely that for a forum of intelligent discussion on current local problems. A disconcerting feature of the present Sarawak condition is the absolute lack of serious treatment accorded to the many contentious issues which must necessarily arise in a country developing as rapidly as is Sarawak today. Pressing Social and economic issues are largely ignored. There is a need that a forum of discussion be provided wherein men and women may ventilate their opinions with reason rather than passion in which serious matters may be discussed with serious minds. Such a journal would give scope to contribution of a character insufficiently technical to warrant consignment to the "Museum Journal" but too meaty for the popular press. This then is the aim of Gazette.

The immediate difficulty that emerges is how to induce this to happen. Let it be first understood that the Gazette though published with Government funds, does not necessarily express the official views of the Government on the particular topic under discussion The editor, in common with the function of the post in other publications, ought to exercise discretion on the approval of articles for inclusion, but even with this power of the rod, there is still a wide scope for contributions; and I mean contributions because it is on these that the future of Gazette rests. Discussion on local problems, learned contributions of a less technical character, works of literary merit are all warmly welcomed (or is it solicited). Excerpts from administrative and departmental reports will still continue to be published, for these should contain matter which could provide an excellent basis for serious discussion. On such lines the Gazette could have a worthy future, it might indeed make a valuable contribution to Sarawak life.


  1. tot // June 12, 2009 at 11:40 PM  

    What is Sarawak Gazette? Is it a journal or a newspaper? Can you give me an answer as soon as possible bcoz I am doing a school project and I used one Sarawak Gazette edition as reference. Please, help me.

  2. Signorriena_Hussien // July 16, 2009 at 5:20 PM  

    actually we can find sarawak gazette at Yayasan Sarawak's Building (Arkib Negeri sarawak)..
    i also use sarawak Gazette as my reference when i'm doing my research about history, last 2 years ago.

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