White Rajah of Sarawak visited Siam (1851)

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Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 January 1851

This news article perhaps gave a detailed account of James Brooke, the first ruler of White Rajah dynasty of Sarawak mission to Siam (now known as Thailand) – and it wasn’t an easy one. I have to admit I was at lost in some minor parts of the article. But one thing for sure is that, he led a mission on behalf of British government to convinced the government of the king of Siam at that time to negotiate Siam’s trade to the outside world. However, the Siamese treated the proposal with suspicion based on the recent events that befall on China (see Opium Wars). What struck me about this news article is the tale of the favourable and customary diplomatic treatment the envoy received despite the Siamese suspicion. However, the real challenge for the mission was evident at the intense atmosphere during the negotiations between British envoy and Siam government and the apparent practice of the former to be as courteous as possible to the latter to avoid any misunderstandings. But, in the end it was not successful until some four years later (see Bowring Treaty).

Petikan akhbar ini menjelaskan maklumat mendalam terhadap misi lawatan James Brooke, pemerintah dinasti Raja Putih pertama Sarawak ke Siam (yang kini dikenali sebagai Thailand). Secara jujur, saya sedikit keliru akan sebahagian maklumat yang ditulis dalam artikel tersebut. Namun, apa yang pasti, beliau mengetuai misi mewakili kerajaan British untuk meyakinkan kerajaan yang diketuai raja Siam pada masa itu dalam membina satu perjanjian perdagangan negara itu dengan dunia luar. Namun, orang-orang Siam curiga akan cadangan itu berdasarkan peristiwa-peristiwa yang berlaku di China (lihat Peperangan Opium). Apa yang membuatkan saya tertarik dengan artikel akhabar ini adalah bagaimana kedatangan perwakilan British disambut oleh pihak Siam dengan hormat dan beradat meskipun mereka curiga akan misi tersebut. Namun, cabaran sebenar terbukti dalam kesukaran British dalam memeterai perjanjian tersebut dengan Siam. Pihak British dengan jelas cuba untuk mempamerkan kesopanan mereka kepada kerajaan Siam dalam usaha untuk mengelakkan ketidaksefahaman. Walaubagaimanapun, cadangan perjanjian itu tidak berjaya sehingga empat tahun kemudian (lihat Perjanjian Bowring).

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