The Union of Borneo is an island nation in South East Asia, encompassing the entire island of the same name and some of the surrounding islands. The Union is currently in a state of Emergency, due to the current political situation in the region.
Borneo is an island located in South East Asia, surrounded by the South China Sea to the North and North West, The Philippines to the North East, The Malay Peninsula to the West, Sulawesi Island to the East and the Island of Jawa to the South. Situated on the Equator within the Malay Archipelago, the island is the third largest in the World.
The island is largely mountainous land, having a number of mountain regions that form the island's interior. While the Kapas Mountain range form the 'backbone' of the Island, the highest peak is Mount Kinabalu in the North East of the Island along the Crocker Range. The Lowlands are mostly swampy, some which have been reclaimed for human habituation. There are numerous rivers connecting the two vastly differant types of terrain,providing a reliable way to quickly travel around the island apart from rough difficult land travel.
Borneo is home to one of the oldest rainforests in the world, rivalling the Amazon rainforest. Because of this and the fact that over half of its landmass is still covered by virgin tropical rainforest, it is considered one of the most bio-diverse places on the planet, home to numerous species unique to the island itself. Due to this, numerous groups have made it a top priority to preserve this 'green lung' of an island. Sadly, as recent as the early 21st century, illegal logging and poaching continue to threaten the island's rich biodiversity.
Current estimates of Borneo's population stand at 22 million, based on extrapolation of 2009 census information. The Island is home to a diverse group of peoples who are native to Borneo, mainly Dayaks [referred there as Ibans and Bidayuhs], 'Orang Ulus' [primarily called Penan] and the more recent immigrant races, mainly Malays and Chinese. Despite numerous ethnic groups, ethic relations on the Island in general are peaceful, although there been occasions of ethnic violence in incidents relating to economic and political strife.
In general, the population practice a large variety of faiths. While Christianity is prominent overall, large communities of Muslims are present in the cities on Borneo, while many in the interior still practice their traditional beliefs of animalistic religion. Still, these prove no barrier to fostering good friendships within the community, and most of the time any tensions between communities are due to more general social factors.
Most of Borneo's people live in the cities on the island, but some choose to live within the interior regions, believing to be their ancestral home. Still, most will embrace technology and the trappings of the modern world, while anxious to preserve the ways of their elders that form their cultural identity.
For the Early History of the Island itself, refer to Wikipedia:Borneo. This merely tells the principal historical factors leading to the genesis of the Union of Borneo.
When the European Imperialists first came to South East Asia, Borneo was under several primary regional powers. The Brunei Sultanate controlled the North West coast of the Island, while the Sulu Sultanate claimed the regions of present day Sabah. To the south, various Muslim Sultanates control the coasts and the settlements in the area, while the interior regions were inhabited by native tribes whose ways would become legend in the times of Imperial rule.In the due course, by the 19th century, the Western Imperial powers had taken over much of the Eastern and African regions. The Malay Archipelago in particular was being taken over two major European Powers: the British and the Dutch. Their competition intense in trying to secure resources in the Industrial Revolution, they cooperated in dividing the region among themselves as to protect their mutual interest in the region, especially during the times of the Napoleonic Wars. The most significant gesture of this cooperation is the 1824 Treaty, dividing the archipelago into Dutch and British spheres. The treaty would divide the island of Borneo itself, as while the South was slowly taken over by the Dutch, the North was held by the declining Brunei and Sulu Sultanates who gave the lands to the British throughout the 19th century. North Borneo was annexed by The British North Borneo Company, becoming a cash cow of the colonial company. Brunei meanwhile lost its territories in present day Sarawak to the ‘White Rajahs’ of the Brooke Dynasty.
This division would accumulate into the situation that existed in the early 21st century: There was small independent Brunei kingdom along the Northern Borneo coast, divided and surrounded by the Malaysian state of Sarawak to its south. Sabah to the North also joined its sister state in the Malaysian Federation at the same time in 1963. Meanwhile the remaining region in the south, once Dutch territory, was now part of Indonesia called Kalimantan.
Borneo Dissent Activity
In the 50 years since the formation of Malaysia, Sarawak and Sabah had changed, less for better than for worse in some groups in the States. The promises of prosperity and unity have long since evaporated. Since their integration, while the states and the people seem to have their rights respected. Their land was being plundered. Over the years, the forests in Sarawak were logged by concessions given to private companies and extensive gold mining had polluted the regions around Bau near the capital. Whatever profit that was made from the extraction of Borneo’s natural resources didn’t go to the State and its people, but in a twist of the old colonial system, went to the Federal Government and was rumoured to be pocketed by the leaders and those close to them.
The government elected to run Sarawak’s state government was beginning to be suspected to be a crony of the ruling coalition, even as the government was claiming the rule of law and the people prevailed. One very hot and constantly spoken topic in the state was the Bakun Dam, which saw the destruction of a region of virgin tropical rainforest and the displacement of natives surrounding the dam despite protests to its construction. The results were lingering social discontent and irreversible ecological damage, both conveniently overlooked by the ruling Federal government. Meanwhile, the State’s Chief minister was alleged to have accumulated millions in Ringgit and living like a king amidst a sea of poverty-stricken citizens.
The situation in Sabah was a lot worse: Once the richest state in Malaysia, it was being sucked dry by the same Federal crooks in the Government. Made worse by the flood of immigrants from the Philippine Islands, the people were not only struck by poverty, but by social unrest and uncertainly as the government seemed indifferent to the damage done to the arriving strangers on Sabah’s shores.
Whatever bad the situation was in Malaysian Borneo, Kalimantan was worse as at times the natives resorted to ethnic violence concerning the exploitation of their land, reviving the practice of headhunting against their victims. It seems that the only safe place to be would be Brunei, where a state of Emergency had been in place since Independence since 1984.
The Rise of the UnionIt took the shock of the 2008 Malaysian General Election to realise the possibility of challenging the Federal Government within Malaysia and preparing the path to Independence. The people of Sabah and Sarawak began to demand for the lost royalties that have been denied to them for all these years. The Federal Government, anxious to cling on to power sought to promise these without intending to fulfill them, but it will take another election to prove that the people of Borneo meant business.
As the administration of the Malaysian Government began to suffer from fresh allegations of corruption, incompetence and increased oppression of other religious beliefs for those of Islam, there are those within the dissedent ranks of Sawarak and Sabah to plan for direct control of the state, leading to Independence, or at the very least, the complete autonomy of the Two states from the central Malaysian Government. However the dreams of these parties, the path to such goals are often frustrated by the ruling government party. Election rigging and bribery are often the tools that had allowed for the continued presence of the National Front to hold onto power - even as it slipped away from the approval of the people.