CENTENARY OF THE COUNCIL NEGRI, SARAWAK
On the 8th September, 1967, the Sarawak State Legislature known as Council Negri celebrates its centenary.
The Council Negri held its first meeting at Bintulu on 8th September, 1867, with the Tuan Muda (afterwards Rajah Sir Charles Brooke) presiding. Five Europeans and sixteen local Sarawak leaders, mostly Malays were present. At this first meeting, the members were informed that the purpose of the Council was to deliberate on any matter of great importance to the population in general or any dispute among the different peoples about laws and customs.
The second meeting was held at Sibu in 1868. Subsequent meetings were held in Kuching, usually at intervals of three years.
In 1941, the Rajah (Sir Charles Vyner Brooke) decided to commemorate the Centenary Year of Brooke Rule in Sarawak by introducing constitutional reforms designed to replace autocratic rule by a form of government based on democratic principles. The result was the Constitution Order of 24th September, 1941, which contained the famous Nine Cardinal Principles.
Under the Constitution Order, 1941, the Council Negri consisted of twenty five members made up of fourteen official members and eleven unofficial appointed members. The first meeting of the reconstituted Council was held on 17th November, 1941. A few weeks later the country was overrun by the Japanese.
After the Liberation the Council Negri resumed its functions again. It was at a meeting held on 16th May, 1946, that the Council gave its consent to the Creation of Sarawak to the British Crown.
As a first step towards the achievement of self-government, the Council Negri was again reconstituted under the Sarawak (Constitution) Order in Council, 1956, to consist of fourteen ex-officio Members, twenty four Elected Members, four Nominated Members and three Standing Members. The ex-officio Members were the Chief Secretary (acting as President of the Council), the Attorney-General, the Financial Secretary, the Residents of the five Divisions, and six other Government officers appointed by the Governor. The Standing Members were appointed by the Rajah before the Cession as members of the Council Negri for so long as they remain members of the State Public Service. When the seat of a Standing Member became vacant, it was not to be filled. Persons eligible for appointment as Elected or Nominated Members had to be 25 years of age or upwards and to be British subjects or British protected persons. Furthermore, they ware required to have been residents in Sarawak for seven out of the ten years preceding an election.
Elected Members of the Council Negri were elected by Divisional Advisory Councils and the three urban councils of Kuching, Sibu and Miri in accordance with the Council Negri Elections Ordinance, as follows:
First Divisional Advisory Council - 5 representatives
Second Divisional Advisory Council - 4 representatives
Third Divisional Advisory Council - 6 representatives
Fourth Divisional Advisory Council - 4 representatives
Fifth Divisional Advisory Council - 2 representatives
Kuching Municipal Council - 1 representative
Sibu Urban District Council - 1 representative
Miri Urban District Council - 1 representative
Constitutional changes were made in 1963 by the introduction of the Sarawak (Constitutional) (Amendment) Order in Council, 1963, but a new Constitution was enacted in the same year under the Malaysia Act, 1963 to enable Sarawak, North Borneo and Singapore to federate with the existing States of the Federation of Malaya and thus achieve internal self-government. Under the new Constitution of the State of Sarawak, the Council Negri was reconstituted to consist of a Speaker, three ex-officio Members, namely the State Secretary, the State Attorney-General and the State Financial Secretary, thirty-six Elected Members, three Nominated Members and one Standing Member.
The thirty six Elected Members have been elected by means of a three tier system, that is, they were first elected by the people to the District Councils and the Kuching Municipal Council, thence to the five Divisional Advisory Councils and finally to the Council Negri. The distribution of seats is:
First Division Advisory Council - 10 members
Second Division Advisory Council - 6 members
Third Division Advisory Council - 11 members
Fourth Division Advisory Council - 6 members
Fifth Division Advisory Council - 3 members
There is at present no Standing Member. The last Standing Member was Dato (now Tun) Abang Haji Openg, OBE who was then the President of the Majlis Islam before he was appointed Governor of Sarawak.
The first meeting of the Council Negri under the new Constitution was held on 4th September, 1963. On 16th September, the same year, Sarawak achieved its independence by becoming a State in the Federation of Malaysia.
In other States of Malaysia the legislation is known as the State Legislative Assembly but, in Sarawak, the name "Council Negri" has been retained.
It is expected that in its Centenary Year, 1967, Council Negri will be developed still further and become a House whose members will be returned by direct elections to be held for the first time towards the end of the year.
The two commemorative stamps depict the Council Negri Mace which symbolizes the Speaker's authority and impartiality in the House. The Mace was presented to the Council Negri on 14th December, 1965, by Dato Wee Kheng Chiang, PNBS., CSS., on behalf of the people of Sarawak.
Commemorative postage stamps of the 15 cents and 50 cents denominations will be issued on the 8th September, 1967 to mark the Centenary of the Council Negri, Sarawak. Details of the stamps are as follows:
Size: Rectangular with the following dimensions perforation to perforation in sheets of 100:
Horizontal - 35 mm
Vertical - 25 mm
Printing Process: Photogravure
Design: The design features the Council Negri Mace and the State Crest
15 cents - The Mace in yellow and grey; State Crest in yellow, black and red on bright green background
50 cents - The Mace in yellow and grey; State Crest in yellow, black and red on olive-brown background
Paper: P.T.M. watermarked white paper
Printed by: Harrison & Sons Ltd., London
Artist: Enche Ng Peng Nam
Period of Sale: Three months from the date of issue or until stocks are exhausted whichever is earlier
First Day Cover