During these troubling times of COVID-19, our hearts go out to those who are in isolation and are unable to celebrate Raya with their families and loved ones. We cannot help but reflect on a significant event in the history of Sarawak when Kathleen, Her Highness the Ranee Muda and wife of the Rajah Muda Anthony Brooke would have felt similarly isolated from her husband and her 3 young children if not for the hospitality and kindness of the Sarawakian community at large including the Kaum Ibu.
In 1947, Kathleen spent Raya in Sarawak at the home of Datu Patinggi Abang Haji Abdillah, what would be the beginning of an 8-month tour of the country from Bau to the Baram. As both her father-in-law the Tuan Muda and her husband had been banned by the British authorities for fear 'their presence might lead to insurrection', it was left to Kathleen to represent the Brooke Family during those turbulent early days following the annexation of Sarawak to the British Empire.
Enduring physical discomfort and the non-cooperation of Colonial government officials, Kathleen provided important moral support for the independence movement, particularly amongst Malay women. The campaign against the annexation of Sarawak was deemed a success for the cause of Independence but it came with a heavy personal toll, precipitating the break-up of her marriage to the Rajah Muda and leaving a lasting impact on her young children whom she was forced to leave behind in England while she and the Rajah Muda fought for Sarawak.