Citation
Petition of the inhabitants of Labuan to the Right Honourable Joseph Chamberlain, M.P., His Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies, London

Material Information

Title:
Petition of the inhabitants of Labuan to the Right Honourable Joseph Chamberlain, M.P., His Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies, London
Abbreviated Title:
Petition of the inhabitants of Labuan
Creator:
[Inhabitants of Labuan]
Place of Publication:
[Labuan]
Publisher:
[s.n.]
Publication Date:
Language:
English

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Labuan (Malaysia) ( lcsh )
Spatial Coverage:
Asia -- Malaysia -- Labuan
Asia -- British North Borneo
Asia -- North Borneo
Asia -- Borneo Utara
Asia -- Borneo Utara British
اسيا -- بورنيو اوتارا
اسيا -- لابوان
اسيا -- ولايه ڤرسكوتوان لابوان
Coordinates:
5.3 x 115.22

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SOAS University of London
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Archives and Special Collections
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This item is licensed with the Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial License. This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon this work non-commercially, as long as they credit the author and license their new creations under the identical terms.
Resource Identifier:
MS 283792, File 23 ( SOAS manuscript number )

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Full Text
PETITION
OF THE
INHABITANTS OF LABUAN.
To the Right Honourable
JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN, M.P.,
His Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies,
London.
The humble Memorial of the Inhabitants of the Crown Colony of
Labuan of all Races and Creeds, European, Native and Chinese,
Respectfully Sheweth :
1. That your memorialists desire to bring under your consideration the
unsatisfactory administration of the Colony of Labuan by the Chartered Company of
British North Borneo, the grievances complained of being amongst others :
(it.) Repeated encroachments of the said Company on the liberties and
privileges of its status as a Crown Colony.
(6.) The unlawful assimilation of its fiscal policy to the State of North Borneo
(c.) The introduction of unnecessary and irritating taxation and legislation
without consultation of the Colony.
(tZ.) Stealthy introduction of ordinances detrimental to the trade of the Colony,
(e.) Extravagant administration and a plethora of superfluous officials.
(/.) Very unsatisfactory administration of justice by unqualified persons and
the absence of the right of appeal to the High Court of the Straits
Settlements—the nearest Colony having properly, trained jurists and
judges—prior to the costly, and to most inhabitants, impossible appeal
to the Privy Council. . • •
( . tion, similar to the prodigal habits of North Borneo which have caused
and are still causing thatJState so much, trouble with its inhabitants.
(/i.) The want of provision for even the most elementary education.
(i.) The inflict ion on the Colony of an alien Police force of natives of India,
which apart from being useless for policing the Colony are demoralizing
the natives by scandalous acts of usury.
We would point out that Labuan is one of the smallest, if not actually the smallest
of His Majesty’s Colonies, containing an area of only 31 square miles, or, say, about one-
fifth the size of Rutlandshire, the smallest home county. Its soil is poor, only a small
acreage being under cultivation. Half of the island is leased to the Coal Company.
(Labuan and Borneo Ltd.). It largely depends for its existence on this Company and
trade with Borneo and neighbouring islands. It is a free port and its prosperity as a
distributing centre is consequent on its remaining a free port. Any attempt to
intermeddle with this status must be viewed wXth misgiving.
â– 
Since the Chartered Company assumed the administration, their policy has not
been to respect this status. It is well-known they do not view with favour this privilege
of Labuan, but would prefer to introduce their own prohibitive fiscal policy and
anomalous government. It is not unnatural that a Company pledged to secure
dividends for its shareh olders should wish to make Labuan a taxgatherer for their


State when temptation is within reach, and to assist—as a Straits paper ably puts it—
to pay for an absurd railway, “ that starts nowhere, goes nowhere, is continually fioating
down rivers and getting lost in swamps ”, and, it might possibly be added, brings pinguid
commission to certain elements. Is it legitimate or tenable for this Colony to assist an
enterprise, the primary object of which is the undermining of the port of Labuan ?
Illustrative of our exposition, two months ago notices were posted round the
Colony notifying that the excise tax on tobacco of all kinds was to be increased from
100% to 700%. Simultaneously it was made known that a further tax of 10% ad valorem
on cigarette papers, pipes and smokers’ articles would be innovated,—a manifest
departure from free port principles. This was confirmed in the Labuan Official Gazette,
No. 16, of 25th November last, when it was discovered this innovation and increase in
excistf’WTis- a jcountcrpart of the North Borneo customs’ tariff. Alarmed at this menace
to the trade of the Colony the traders lost no time in sending a petition to the Governor
pointing out the detrimental effect likely to accrue therefrom. The Governor replied
on the 5th December, “ that in Labuan there would be no such duty on pipes and
cigarette papers, that the notice in the Gazette which referred to those articles was a
clerical error”. The increased excise duty on tobacco of all kinds is meanwhile
being levied.
We do not wish to unduly extend this memorial by going into details of this
ordinance,’but would point out one of the principal hardships indicted on the native
population by .the increases of 100% in the duty on the article known as Java Tobacco
largely consumed by them. In Sarawak territory only 18 miles across the Bay the
duty is only 8 cents per catty against 40 cents now levied here. Considering that the
average native earns but $9 per month, that he uses for himself and family about 1
catty per month, it is evident the price now charged here is a serious drain on his
limited resources. The native brings his jungle produce to Labuan and there exchanges
it for articles of necessity. The same articles he can now obtain at Limbang, 'l'rusan,
and Brooketon in Sarawak territory on more favourable terms. Distance being about
equal it requires little perspicacity to perceive the ultimate result of this policy.
Already most of the trade of the most important district ofTaa-as,“which the Chartered
Company are trying to “ rent ” is directed to Limbang. The enlightened, prudent and
progressive rule of the Rajah of Sarawak is attracting the best natives from this Colony,
every unit of these means a loss which our rulers seem impotent to comprehend.
The increase in tobacco duties was preceded by a warning of two months, during
which traders had at least some time to consider the advisability or not of continuing
their business in this article for the New year. The new Liquors Ordinance however
was stealthily sprung on the Colony without any previous warning. We first heard of
this in the Official Gazette, dated 6th December, but only received in the Colony on the
4th January and then made retrospective to 1st January. This ordinance entirely
replaces the old ordinance of 1850 wisely framed by Colonial Officials which has served
the Colony so well and burdens us with the “ Liquor Proclamation 1901 ” of the State
of North Borneo. This latter ordinance consists of 78 articles and was originally framed
for a large city like Singapore and a prosperous Colony like the Straits Settlements or
the Federated Malay States, but is quite out of place here in a small Colony of 8,411
inhabitants, mostly Mahommedans and consequently abstainers. The turnover of
spirituous liquors in one year in Labuan is not equal to the turnover of one day in
Singapore. The purport of this ordinance as interpreted by the local Court in a recent
test case is to create a monopoly in favour of the farmer by compelling us to draw our
supplies from him, or submit to an imposition in the shape of a licence not called for by
the ordinance. A licence is also insisted upon for export in wholesale quantities of
Duty Paid, liquors a condition unknown in the old ordinance or in Singapore. The
interpretation of the ordinance also prohibits a private person making a present of a
case or more of liquors to a mutual friend without taking out a licence—an intolerable
state of over-legislation. This case is now under appeal, but in the absence of any
professionally trained judge in the territory the case may ultimately have to be taken
before the judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The license fees are excessive and
out of all proportion to a place of the size of Labuan and the trade of the Colony.
Merchants and traders carrying stocks of Duty Paid liquors when the new ordinance
came in force were suddenly confronted with an interdict which prevented them


disposing of these stocks unless submitting to the imposition of the farmer and
consequent loss. Reasonable notice should have been given to enable those traders not
wishing to continue business in these articles under the new ordinance to have disposed
of, or exported their stocks beforehand. We respectfully submit such legislation is
contrary to all English notions of equity and savours more of the autocratic will of the
Residents of the Federated Malay States. The act of making the ordinance retrospective
is a dangerous precedent and not in harmony with the legislation of the Colony.
More serious still is the simultaneous introduction into this Colony of the North
Borneo Customs tariff in the guise of an excise tax on spirituous liquors increasing the
former dues from 100%> to 300%. It was understood and promised the inhabitants when
the Chartered Company assumed the administration of the Colony and consequently
confirmed by the High Commissioner, Sir Charles H. Bullen Mitchell, when holding an
enquiry into abuses which had crept into the administration of the Chartered Company
on a former petition of the inhabitants, that no increase in taxation of any kind should
be imposed on the Colony without the previous sanction of the Secretary of State for the
Colonies. This sanction the Governor admits has not yet been obtained, and we pray
you to withhold it.
The question arises why is a Spirit Farmer necessary at ah ? Why not collect the
duties on arrival in the Colony by some oflicial deputed for such purpose ? The officials
as far as the Colony’s executive work is concerned have no very onerous duties to
perform if not utilized for North Borneo work and might conveniently be requested to
collect such duties in the moment of importation. The police also might with advan-
tage be employed in checking frauds or smuggling. They have quite an easy life at
present. We have only a fortnightly regular service of steamers from Singapore and
Sandakan with an occasional outside steamer. Importers might be n quested to furnish
sworn declarations of their imports of Spirituous liquors without in anyway interfering
with free-port principles. Import and export declarations, not sworn, are now furnished
to the Registrar monthly ; we have reason to believe no trader would object to furnish
such a declaration by such steamer in the event of Spirituous liquors being imported,
whilst the steamer bringing cargo for Labuan invariably delivers a manifest to the
Harbour Master. When liquors are exported the drawback could be given as before.
By this means the large profit now going into hands.of the farmer would go to the
Treasury. It would avoid friction by preventing the extraordinary powers conferred by
the ordinance on the farmer, passing into the hands of a stranger, in the present
instance a Chinaman from the Federated Malay States, who whatever his merits has not
that culture and education requisite to properly understand his duties and responsibili-
ties towards the public. Farming is obsolete; in the early days it might have been
convenient, but it frequently leads to abuses and often to collusion with those having
the disposal of the Farms.
It is a matter of surprise that the Spirit Farm—including also the Opium and Pawn-
broking farms—has been let without tenders having been called for in the Labuan
Official Gazette. True, the letting was advertised in the North Borneo Herald and
Straits Press, but very few people here see these papers. The Labuan Official Gazette
is the only official means of publishing ordinances, notices, etc. for the Colony of Labuan.
Local people were not aware until the 4th January, 1902 of the new conditions of the
Spirit farm including the increased duties, whereas it would appear the present farmer
had by some means unknown to the public obtained in the month of October last,
when tenders were sent in, the terms of the new ordinance to the detriment of other ten-
derers. It is also curious that in the advertisement in the North Borneo Herald in
September last the new Opium and Gambling Regulations were notified whilst the Spirit
Regulations were not. It cannot be supposed that any man would tender for a contract
the conditions of which he was ignorant of, and your memorialists can only regret these
palpable irregularities which cannot be said are conducive to good government.
Whilst on the subject of irregularities, we would mention that two desirable town
lots hard by the Market have been sold privately without being put up to public auction.
Many buyers were eager to secure these lots and were prepared to pay a considerably
enhanced price over the amount privately sold for. Under Ordinance No. X III of 1891
Art. V, which has not been repealed, these should have been put up to public auction,


4
according to the invariable custom in the neighbouring Colonies of the Straits Settle-
ments and Hongkong with regard to Crown lands. This act has been injurious to the
Colony’s revenue and brings its administration down to the level of British North
Borneo.
The Sanitary Ordinance is another voluminous affair of 154 articles very admirable
in theory but impossible in practice. The idea of Sanitation is praiseworthy, especially
for large towns and cities, but for a place of the size and conditions of Labuan the
present ordinance is unnecessary, too far reaching and expensive and if carried out in
its entirety and we have no guarantee it will not be—will cause unrest, irritation and
emigration amongst the native population. The town of Victoria Labuan has about 90 •
substantial houses nearly all facing the sea, about as many more native huts in the
back streets, most of them separated from the two main streets by a tidal creek. The
town is for the greater part flooded, in many places to the depth of a foot, at high |
water Spring tides. This and the beneficent rays of a tropical sun--the greatest of all
Sanitators—do most of the cleansing. An elaborate drainage system, apart from the
great expense unable to be borne by the Colony, is out of the question under such
conditions. The ordinance has been made by a theorist without any previous know-
ledge of the topographical conditions. The Colony has far more need of good roads,
bridges and other public works with the money that can be spared. Too much sanita-
tion in a tropical town of our size is impracticable and superfluous. Our death rate so
far as possible to ascertain (we have no registry of births and deaths) with all our
defects is about W/that of Singapore and Hongkong. In the face of such facts would
it not be better to leave well alone and confine the Sanitary ordinance to supervision
and control of the markets, slaughter-houses, lighting and water-supply, roads, and to
act as a sort of legislative or advising Council to the Governor, before which all matters
concerning taxation and legislation should be submitted and fully discussed prior to
being sent to His Majesty for approval ? We might at the same time suggest that one
half of the members be elected by taxpayers. In this way greater weight would be
given to their decisions, the feeling of the inhabitants better ascertained, and needless
legislation avoided.
Taxation without representation is not an English institution. Representation iB
the more necessary when people of many races have to be dealt with. A previous
mutual understanding before blindly promulgating a drastic ordinance abruptly attack-
ing: long established custom, will generally overcome many obstacles ; some the result
of--prejudice, others rational. This fact is too often lost sight of by a new official
unfamiliar with the Actual resources of the Country imbued largely with the Court of
Directors’ chimerical ideas and vain fancies, and trained in a land of plenty. One of
the great features of the administration of our neighbour Rajah Brooke of Sarawak is
that besides being served by permanent well trained, conscientious and competent
officers, he invariably calls a council of his chiefs from all parts, thoroughly discusses
with them and his officers the measures proposed, either fiscal or legislative, and is
guided by their suggestions before promulgating an ordinance concerning the common-
weal. Here it is the reverse ; an ordinance is plumped down without giving the subject
matter serious consideration, still less asking or accepting the advice of the resident 1
population who are generally the best judges of the Country’s resources. Under the
Chartered Company, officials are continually changing, and one frequently finds young
and inexperienced Cadets in charge of important posts. In Colonial days Labuan had
a Legislative Council, this exists no longer under the Chartered Company’s administra-
tion, albeit as a matter of form, ordinances promulgated in the Gazette are signed by
the “ Clerk to the Council ” ! Why does not this council exist now ?
There is no gainsaying the prosperity of Sarawak in contrast to North Borneo and
Labuan. A glance at last year’s trade returns of the former country would suffice were
it not for the interesting report of Mr. Consul Hewett published by the Foreign Office
on the trade, of Sarawak for 1900 which lays stress on the point of the absence of hind-
rances to trade concluding his remarks with the pregnant sentence : “ The absence of


petty regulations, restrictions and taxes of a vexatious nature and the numerous
possibilities for making a good and easy livelihood are a great incentive to immigration.”
British North Borneo is unfortunately the victim of vexatious restrictions, taxes and a
government of nepotism which has a direct effect on the Colony of Labuan under its
administration. The immigration spoken of by Consul Hewett is largely at the expense
of North Borneo and will be more so should any further territorial acquisition be
sanctioned.
The Chartered Company some years back substituted without permission their own
Coat of Arms for the Royal Arms on the Labuan Official Gazette, judicial and other
documents. The High Commissioner Sir Charles, H. Bullen Mitchell ordered the
Royal Arms to be replaced. Since then the latter have remained on the Gazette, but of
late years increasing tendency has been noticed to use the Company’s Coat of Arms on
all other official documents for the Colony’s affairs. Sometimes in the case of judicial
documents there have been stamped over by an almost illegible stamj) with the Royal
Coat of Arms, at other times not. Other documents have a printed heading “ British
North Borneo Government,” this is sometimes, but not always, crossed out and
'‘Labuan” substituted. The Colony is charged $770 per annum for printing and
stationery and has a right to have its own special stationery for such an expenditure.
Even the dogbadges this year have B. N. B. stamped on them. These are little nothings
but all tend to make a grand whole, and although trivial apparently are but means
to an end, and that end is benevolent assimilation if unchecked. To an outsider
the objection may seem frivolous but to a race like the Malays who have such a
punctilious regard for ceremonial, it conveys a false impression with regard to the
Sovereignty of this Crown Colony. The Chartered Company were given the Colony
to administer as a Crown Colony, not to rule under their anomalous system, they
have no right to alter the political status, towards which the above is but a subtle
stratagem.
ADMINISTRATION.
Until recently the work of the Colony and a large share of that of the West Coast
of North Borneo Company’s territory was performed by :—
1. The Resident.
2. Magistrate and Treasurer.
3. Medical Officer (also permitted private practice.)
4. Postmaster and Harbour master who also attended to the sinecure
duties of Land Office, in all, three Europeans and one Eurasian, besides native clerical
staff.
Now we have :—
1. Resident
2. Magistrate
3. Medical officer
4. Treasurer
5. Land officer
6. Licensing officer
7. Postmaster and Harbour master.
6 Europeans and I Eurasian an increase of 100% in the European staff! The develop-
ment of the Colony cannot by any stretch of imagination be said to warrant such an
increase and consequent drain on its limited resources. It may well be termed a
plethora of officials.
In the Official Directory our resident is styled, Resident of Labuan and West
Coast. Although the duties connected with the West Coast residency occupy the
major portion of the Resident’s time, Labuan has the privilege of paying the whole of
his salary of $4,800 per annum and $900 entertaining allowance ! The Colony is fur-
ther charged with $40 per month towards the upkeep of the launch “ Melapi” belong-


6
ing to the West Coast Residency which takes the Resident and his officials to and
from Labuan. This launch is not required nor used for the service of the Colony pro-
per. The Colony is also charged $2,000 per annum towards the upkeep of the
British North Borneo Government’s steamer “ Petrel.” It is on record that this latter
steamer has not visited the Colony for a period of 14 months. Such a charge cannot
even be justified for bringing the Governor down for his annual residence, consideiing
that the sum of Si,300 is charged the Colony for transport and another $2,660 for
allowances. If any such work as laying down or taking up a buoy has to be per-
formed, an outside steamer has to be hired and paid for, neither the “ Melapi ” nor
“ Petrel ” being available for such service. •
Another anomaly is the Si,000 per annum charged the Colony for part of the
Treasurer General’s salary in Sandakan. It is notorious that a large part of the
treasury work connected with the West Coast Residency and this much discussed
Railway passes through the Labuan treasury ; for all this service the Colony receives
no quid pro quo. Instead of the Colony paying any proportion of the Treasurer
General’s salary it would be more equitable for the Chartered Company to credit Labuan
with the larger portion of the salary of the Colonial treasurer. It is a great convenience
for the Company and saves them an extra staff on the West Coast.
It was understood the Chartered Company were also to credit the Colony with
some S3,000 per annum for the privilege of circulating their copper coin and paper
currency in this Colony. We fail to find this in the estimates. As money will be
required under the new Sanitary ordinance, if sanctioned by His Majesty, to put the
Colony in order after the reckless abandonment by the Company, it would be a gracious
act to oblige them to make good this defect by way of retrospect, placing the amount at
the disposal of the Sanitary Board.
Other charges on the Colony which cause surprise are :—
$4,850. For Works and Buildings.
$ 400. Office furniture-
$ 500. Telegraph Construction (We have none)
$ 420. Customs’ Clerk ( do. )
$1,500. Painting Government buildings.
$9,164. Public works.
It would require a powerful microscope to find the germs of the latter. When
accounts are manipulated in this way it is no difficult matter to make it appear on
paper that the Colony is being administered at a loss by the Chartered Company for
philanthropic motives, which the directors in after dinner speeches at home would wish
to lead the British public believe is the case. Our figures are taken from the Estimates
of 1900, the only ones we have casually been able to see. When the High Commissioner
held the last enquiry he made it a point that the Estimates were to be published for
general information. They were published for a short time and then discontinued for *
obvious reasons.
The revenue of the Colony should be now about $60,000, and although burdened
with the heavy annual item of $11,078 for pensions to former Colonial officials could 1
pay its way and become a model settlement if economically and carefullv administered.
It cannot pay under the present extravagant administration, such as this advent of new
officials to be trained here for the Chartered Company’s service, the frequent
peregrinations of officials from the mainland whose- travelling expenses may not
unnaturally be supposed will fall on the Colony although we have no means of
ascertaining this point, but the tendency is more than ever to mix up Labuan affairs
with British North Borneo affairs, notably so in the Public Works Department, so that
in the event of unwelcome enquiries at some future date they may be less easily
unravelled. Some official has even gone the length of importing Indian cattle for
draught purposes, an unwarranted expense considering we have any quantities of
buffaloes to serve the same purpose at considerably less expense. Had such cattle been


introduced for improving the breed of local cattle, the Colony would have been thankful,
but the imported beasts are steers !
Many natives earned their livelihood by carting for government, and out of this
paid their taxes, part of this has now been taken from them and extra taxes put on.
ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE.
The judicial question in this Colony is no improvement on that of North Borneo
and is one your memorialists wish to lay particular stress on. Under the present
system it is nothing less than a grave scandal and a travesty on justice. We
believe we are quite correct in stating there is not a jurist or legally trained
official in the Company’s service. Magisterial and Judicatory functions are discharged
by amateur officers of the Company under the immediate orders of the Governor,
who is again the administrator of the Court of Directors of a Commercial enterprise ’
“An independent judiciary is the firmest bulwark of freedom.” Would that this
axiom were the case here! The judicature has not that independent authority
requisite for the impartial administration of justice and its trend is rather the production
of revenue than conducive to poise the scales of justice equitably.
Should a civilian be compelled to institute a suit against the Chartered Company
or one of its officers involving any legal technicality or in which the Company might be
financially implicated, the judge or magistrate trying the case is the Company’s servant
immediately under the orders of the administrator of that Company and dependent on
the latter’s benevolence for promotion or even the retention of his position. It would
be idle to suppose or expect a man to condemn himself, still less incur the displeasure
of his chief, however honest his intentions, by giving a decision adverse to their in-
terests, hence the Company may be plaintiff'and judge, or defendant and judge simul-
taneously, an anomaly not tenable in any civilized country.
If an appeal is made it is virtually the same thing; the case merely comes before
another officer of the Company under similar conditions. The Company can with al-
most certain impunity give whatever decision is most conducive to their own interests
An ultimate appeal is certainly reserved to us before the Judicial Committee of the
Privy Council but the costliness of such an appeal renders it prohibitive to the ordinary
Colonists. The Company are fully alive to this and secure in their own stronghold able
to defeat the ends of justice.
The most natural and proper cause would be an appeal to the full Supreme Court
sitting in the Straits Settlements, but the Chartered Company have hitherto success-
fully checkmated this privilege. The latter Court is our only possible means of obtain-
ing proper justice with the assistance of jurists and professional judges. It would
depurate any case heard here where such essentials were lacking and generally render
any further appeal unnecessary.
The Chartered Company will oppose any such concession by every means in their
power but we all fervently hope this legitimate aspiration will no longer be denied us.
The Order in Council under the Foreign Jurisdiction Act 1890 published in the London
Gazette of 26th July last gives to British Subjects in Brunei the right of appeal from
the Consular Court (His Majesty’s Court for Brunei) to the full Supreme Court sitting
in the Straits Settlements. Surely we as loyal inhabitants of this Colony should not
be denied a privilege extended to our fellow subjects in Brunei living at our very door,
who possess the greater security for the impartial administration of justice in having as
judge a Consul under the orders of the Foreign Office. The right of such an appeal is
the only protection we can have against the excesses and libertinism of the Chartered
Company. Had the State of North Borneo a judicial Commissioner appointed by the
Crown independent of the Company there would be less ground for complaint. The
Federated Malay States have such a judge notwithstanding their officials are all trained
men of the Civil Service. The staunchest apologist of the Chartared Company cannot
pretend that the class of people from which they draw their officers are eligible for


8
members of His Majesty’s Civil Service nor that of the Rajah of Sarawak. It is far
from our intention of giving offence by this assertion, but we cannot shut our eyes to
facts.
The Colonial Office has recently had occasion to see an example.of the legal
acumen prevalent here in the decision given in the “ Lorna Doone ” case. Had this
happened to an ordinary mortal instead of to the Rajah of Sarawak, this supercilious
decision would have been final and only a costly appeal to the Privy Council could
have obtained a revocation, a proceeding out of the reach of most of us. This case
was also typical of the ascendancy of personal prejudice impinging against duty and is
not isolated. Nothing demonstrates more forcibly the necessity of the right to
appeal to a properly constituted Court.
Offences punishable under the Indian Penal Code with imprisonment are here
frequently compromised by a fine, more especially has this been the case with offences
under Sections 193 and 36G. This justifies our contention that the trend of
our judicial system is to produce revenue rather than justice.
WANT OF DIGNITY AND FORMALITY IN ADMINISTRATION.
A general levity in the conduct of public affairs is unfortunately but too apparent.
The Company fail to exercise that discipline amongst their officers and staff one
is accustomed to find in the Colonial Service of our neighbouring Colonies and
Sarawak. To this circumstance in a large measure are due the troubles with the natives
on the mainland which finds its counteraction here. Many of us look back with
regret to the days of Colonial office rule and keenly appreciate the change for the
worse.
There is a want of secrecy in business relations with the Government and com-
plaints are justified of publicity being given to affairs which should meanwhile remain
secret. When tenders have been invited for works these have been opened before
the date specified and their conditions discussed in the Bazaar to the prejudice of
the person tendering. Other competitors having friends at Court find out these con-
ditions and modify their own accordingly. Even the late political arrangements
whereby the Chartered Company are endeavouring to extend their Sovereignty in the
Bay of Brunei under the guise of “ renting ” certain territories in the State of Brunei
by means we will not discuss here, were given away in the Bazaar. The publicity
given to these arrangements in the Press of the neighbouring Colonies, the adverse
comment thereon, and above all the Governor’s letter to the “Hongkong Telegraph”
may ultimately be the means of causing His Majesty’s Government to consider the
advisability of not allowing the Chartered Company to extend their rule to any other
territory, an action devoutly to be hoped for. It might however have been otherwise.
EDUCATION.
It is an unpleasant fact to record that the Government does absolutely nothing
for education. Amongst our 8,411 inhabitants there is not even a vernacular
elementary school, whilst money is squandered baubles and kickshaws.
The Roman Catholic Mission has the only formal school (voluntary) for about 24
children, and the Protestant Mission another small one for about the same number of
Chinese Christian children. These small schools being denominational the Mahom-
medan natives which constitute the bulk of the population will naturally not send their
children there. The children of the Colony are growing up without the advantage of
any education whatsoever. It is sad to see sturdy, bright and otherwise intelligent
Malay youths of the rising generation unable either to read or write, unable even to tell
their own age. Under such a state of affairs it is not possible for them to compete with
Chinese, who all enjoy a certain home education much to their credit, or with the
natives of British India scattered here, who have had the advantage of an elementary
education.


9
Contrast these conditions with the neighbouring countries of Sarawak and the
Philippines, especially the latter ? The Spanish Government so often ignorantly
condemned had a system of elementary and higher education throughout the land with
national schools for both sexes in every village and hamlet, also schools of agriculture
at convenient centres, which would put some European States to shame. Sarawak
although in a lesser degree has also excellent facilities for the education of natives ; the
Rajah is liberal in the support of his schools, and his subjects like Filipinos
are to be found in good positions in many places in the East as artisans,
mechanics, skilled labourers and clerks. Our coasting steamers and sailing vessels are
manned by Sarawak men and Filipinos as Serangs (Masters) and engineers, our local
government clerical staff, and clerks in Merchants’ offices are largely Sarawak
educated. The Philippines are celebrated for the wonderful culture of music. Bands
are found throughout the Islands in almost every village which professional musicians
have asserted no European State can excel. Even the Straits Settlements, Federated
Malay States, Sumatra and Sarawak, Hongkong and Cochin China have town bands
recruited from Pilipino musicians.
Filipinos, Malays and Sarawak men all spring from one common source, what is
possible with the one is also possible with the other, but only education will accomplish
it. Look at the enormous exports of agricultural produce from the Philippines such as
Hemp, Sugar, Tobacco, Coprah, Coffee, Indigo, etc., amounting to a grand total of
.£7,500,000 Sterling for exports, against £2,150,000 Sterling for imports in 1896, the
last statistics we have been able to procure. Every pound of these articles is produced
by the Filipinos themselves, no aliens whatever, not even Chinese are engaged in agri-
culture there. (We have this information from an old English resident there of 18
years standing.)
Sarawak is a smaller and newer country yet is also making great strides in her
agriculture, although her people are not so well educated as the Filipinos. Borneo is
dormant if not retroceding.
All this has been accomplished by education of the population, raising their social
condition, causing them to acquire articles of Western Manufacture and to a certain
extent a modification of their turn of thought without altering their racial individuality.
They have thus been able to comprehend the advantage of honest labour. In the
education of the people and the raising of their social condition to the level of the
Filipinos and Sarawak people lies the future of Labuan and BritishJNorth Borneo, not in
Opium and Gambling farms which although temporarily replenishing the Treasury are
slowly but surely impoverishing and demoralizing the Country, whilst agriculture, its
only hope is neglected.
If Labuan is to kteep pace with the rest of the East something must be done for
education. We do not ask for nor want an academical education but such an elementary
one as to enable its people to hold their own. We fear it is useless to expect such so long
as the Government is carried on by an exploiting Chartered Company. It is quite
• misfortune enough for Borneo to be inflicted with such an incubus, but that Labuan, a
Crown Colony, should be so is intolerable. The money alone that we have had to pay
towards the upkeep of the Chartered Company’s vessels, $2,480 per annum, which in no
way concern us, if expended on education would have raised the status of the Colony.
POLICE.
In Colonial days and up till within a few years back Labuan was satisfactorily and
efficiently policed by native Malays. The Chartered Company replaced these by aliens
from India, not from any shortcomings of the native force but to enable the Company
to keep a large array of Sikhs partly at the expense of Labuan for service in their
territory against the now chronic rebellion—or as they prefer to term it “ petty raids ”—
against their detested rule. Labuan is singularly free from crime and that the
Government has confidence in the peacefulness of the Colony is evident from the fact
that on occasions all our police force have been withdrawn for service in Borneo against
Mat Salleh and his successors, leaving only the necessary guard for the Treasury. For


these services of our police whilst wholly employed in extraneous work unconnected
with the Colony, we fail to find in the estimates any reimbursement to the local Treasury.
The members of this force spend the most of their time in bacchanalian idleness.
They only do patrol duty in the town of Victoria, never in the outlying districts and
villages. To while away their idleness they dedicate themselves to the most disgraceful
usury. Prowling about in mufti touting lor customers, the unsophisticated and
uneducated native is no match for them and easily falls a prey to their wiles. Once
in their clutches he is immolated on the altar of Shylock. Local law allows them to
charge interest on money lent at the rate of 3% per mensem ; these rascals, however, draw
up a document the native does not understand, and in his ignorance is induced to sign or
make his mark, stipulating for this interest whilst a clandestine agreement is made
verbally for 10% per mensem, interest. They rarely give a receipt for interest received,
and although they have received their 10% they have a trick of making the agreement
read that interest has not been paid to the full amount and capitalize the balance
charging compound interest. The native is easily dunned to pay any exaction the
lender may demand under threat of using the.power of their uniform to trump up
a false charge against him. Knowing from experience the favour' extended these
Sikhs by the Court he does not dare, except in rare instances of more enlightened
natives, dispute their claims. This scandalous practice has already resulted in one
tragedy to an official in British North Borneo.
The Colonial Office will recollect the same scandal happened with the Sikh police
in Hongkong a few years back, and was peremptorily put down by the Chief Justice,
Sir John Carrington. If such practices could happen there under properly constituted
Government with a large staff of European police officers and inspectors it may be
imagined what goes on here under the present laissez faire system with a police force
entirely of Sikhs, with no European Inspector, allowed to do as they like. What has
happened ? About a year ago a most daring robbery of a large amount of money took
place in the Post Office in front of the door of which Sikh police are supposed to be on
guard all night! This is still enveloped in mystery and the perpetrators not brought to
justice. A murder was committed in one of the outlying districts, where police never
patrol, more than 14 years ago; a woman shot for alleged witchcraft; the police never
found it out, private denunciation disclosed the crime. The supposed murderer was com-
mitted for trial and a few days later escaped from gaol, and has not since been heard of.
The gaol in guarded by these Sikhs and very few prisoners are confined there. The
prisoner it might be said belongs to a family who have money !. Can such a force said
to be efficient ? Would such have happened under the old Malay police ? Yet withal
we find the Government pandering to this handful of aliens greatly to the disgust of
the inhabitants. Here is a recent instance. The Resident gave an order that no fresh
meat was to be exposed for sale in the market owing to the sight of such being offensive
to the Sikhs who regarded the cow as a sacred animal. The Sikhs buy nothing in the
market, what necessity have they therefore to go there if they don’t like to see fresh
beef ? Labuan is a Malay country, Sikhs are aliens, Malays are Mahommedans and
according to their religion have as much if not more repulsion for the pig, yet Chinese,
also aliens, are freely allowed to bring fresh pork into the market frequented more by
Mahommedans than other races, although the latter, the large majority of the popula-
tion, have asked for no such order to exclude pork. We grant that such an order was
thoughtless, it was also indiscreet of a high official to issue it without more forethought,
and is typical of how things are done here.
It is no wonder the populace are disgusted when special class legislation pampering
the whims and prejudices of some 30 aliens in a population of over 8,000 is made, whilst
their own legitimate prejudices in their own country are in no way respected. We
maintained the Sikh police instead of being a protection are a most demoralizing
element in this Colony. Their removal would be a blessing and we would hail with
delight a return to the former system. We are not called upon to assist to govern


the State of North Borneo. A clause in the new Sanitary Ordinance provides for the
maintenance ol police. The Colony is now spending $5,962, per annum on this
inellicient force and $2,345, on the goal; this could be done more economically and
efficiently by the above board and give greater satisfaction to the people. As a prelimi-
nary to this memorial on the 15th January last we sent you the following telegram
which we now confirm :—
SECRETARY COLONIES LONDON.
Inhabitants Labuan view alarm attempts Chartered Company assimilate Colony’s
revenue their State—means alienation trade Colony whose finances sound sufficient
requirements if not employed Company’s territory—also constitutes breach agreement
assuming administration Colony—pray withhold your sanction recentextraordinary
ordinances promulgated without consultation Colony—representative petition course
signature.
Bray
Representing Community.
Before concluding we cannot refrain from referring to the speeches made by Direc-
tors and others at the last North Borneo annual dinner as reported in the official
British North Borneo Herald. I f such utterances are taken seriously by the Colonial
Office and the British public as reflecting a true image of the local situation then we
must not be surprised at our position here being misunderstood.
We hardly know how to qualify these speeches. To say they are burlesque and
quixotic would be too lenient; to denounce them as impudent bluff might be too
brusque ; we therefore fall back on the late Charles Kingsley’s phraze when resigning
his chair of modern history at Oxford and qualify them as “ largely a lie.” Perhaps a
still better answer is to be found in a letter published in the “ Financial Times”of 13th
December last by one who has just been in Borneo, copy of which reproduced by a
Straits Paper we beg to enclose in the appendix to this Memorial, together with other
comments from the Press of neighbouring Colonies on the administration of the
Chartered Company.
Wherefore your memorialists pray you to recommend His Majesty to disallow :—
1. Notification No. 65 in Official Gazette of 25th November, 1901 increasing the
tobacco duties to those in force under the Customs tariff of North Borneo.
2. Ordinance No. VII of 1901 cited as Liquors Ordinance 1901 ” in all its parts
substituting therefore the old Ordinance No. 4 of 1850.
(Legally we have no Liquor Ordinance in force in the Colony at the present,
moment, although a person styling himself, the Spirit Farmer is exercising functions
and levying duties the existence of which we have no official knowledge of. In the
Appendix to this Memorial we enclose Official Gazette No. 18 of 1901, December, 6th.
Art. 1. says : “ This ordinance shall be cited as, The Liquors ordinance 1901 and
shall come into force on the 1st January, 1902 ”
Art. 2. repeals the old Ordinance.
Art. 3. “ The Liquors Proclamation 1901 ” of the State of North Borneo is hereby
adopted mutatis mutandis as the law of the Colony.
Where is the new Ordinance and of what does it consist ? We are officially
ignorant of the same. Its articles and conditions have neither been published in the
Labuan Official Gazette nor posted up in any public place in the Colony for general
information. The North Borneo Official Gazette has no official circulation in this Crown
Colony, consequently no publication therein has any official force in this Colony. All
actions committed under this North Borneo ordinance are consequently illegal. Here
is an instance of want of legal acumen in the Government and a further motive for the
right of appeal to the High Court of the Straits Settlements.)


3. The Sanitary ordinance as now constituted, substituting therefor a new ordi-
nance to be drawn up by the present Board in accordance with the requirements and
necessities of the place, authorizing them at the same t ime to have the control of all
public works in place of the present arrangement.
4. To recommend His Majesty to allow us the right of appeal from the General
Court in all Civil and Criminal cases to the full Supreme Court sitting in the Straits
Settelments.
5. Finally we pray His Majesty to remove the Chartered Company and again take
. oyer the direct administration of this Colony as of yore, or make it an appendage of the
Straits Settlements under a Deputy Governor or Resident appointed by the Crown on
the recommendation of the Governor of the Straits Settlements with a representative
•on the Legislative Council. We now pay $4,050, for “ Governor and staff'”, and $5,470
for “ Resident and staff ”, in all $9,620 per annum. For this amount or less we ought
to obtain a capable officer. As an alternative we would gladly be placed under the
administration of Rijah Brooke of Sarawak. He has large interests in the immediate
neighbourhood, thoroughly understands the people of this part of the world, and his
administration is pure and beyond reproach. It is intolerable to have officials appointed
by the Chartered Company’s Board of Directors, subject to them and their lust for
revenue to pay dividends, apart from the other grave inconveniences we have mentioned.
The Chartered Company have been given a fair trial.
They have administered the Colony for 11 years and their rule has been a failure.
The Colony has deteriorated all round. Roads in perfect order when the Colony was
handed over have been neglected and are now impassable, bridges have tumbled down
and have not been replaced, the outlying districts are now inaccessible, public works
have been abandoned and a want of interest in the welfare of the Colony is
generally noticeable. They have taken our corn and given us chaff'in return.
% We further pray you to accept this memorial although sent direct. We are
aware it is usual to send such documents through the Governor in other British
Colonies. In our case the conditions are different; although nominally a British
Colony our Government is administered by a Chartered Company and the Governor is
immediately under their orders. Whilst we have every confidence in the Governor’s
personal integrity, we have none in the Chartered Company and this petition once in
their. Board room might never leave it. We therefore send a copy only to the Governor.
This memorial is signed by all classes not alone in the town of Victoria but also
in the outlying villages of the Island, by the oldest and youngest European, Chinese
and Malay residents. It is signed practically by all the natives who can write and
they but interpret the wishes of their less fortunate brethren unable to write. It is
the unanimous wish of the inhabitants who pray that His Majesty’s Government may
take the necessary action, and your memorialists will, in duty bound, ever pray.
Ldbuanf February
1902.