Ministry exceeds allocation on ‘White Rajah’ movie

Portrait of Sir James Brooke in 1847 by Sir Francis Grant.

KUCHING, Nov 29: The state Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Ministry has overspent by up to 124.5 per cent of allocated funds in 2016 to produce the ‘White Rajah’ movie.

It was reported that Serger Bodrov, who earned Oscar nominations for best foreign-language films “Mongol” and “Prisoner of the Mountains,” is set to direct ‘White Rajah’ for Margate House Films.

The movie is based on the true adventures of Sir James Brooke in 1840s Borneo.

Bodrov had visited in Sarawak in May this year with producer Rob Allyn and Brooke Heritage Trust trustee Jason Brooke to meet Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, and discuss the movie.

The movie is fully financed and approved for a shoot in the state in the middle of next year.

According to the Auditor General’s Report 2016 Series 2, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture under the 11th Malaysia Plan was allocated RM39.01 million but the actual expenses incurred was RM48.57 million.

It noted that the expense was to implement the “White Rajah” movie approved by the state cabinet.

Among the 12 ministries in the Sarawak government, seven Ministries had spent less that 80 per cent of their allocation, and only the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports had overspent.

The “White Rajah” has official backing from the Sarawak government. During a signing ceremony in September 2016, Chief Minister Abang Johari said: “White Rajah is an initiative by the state government to promote Sarawak as a natural studio and a result of negotiations between the Brooke Heritage Trust, the film producers and the state government through Sarawak Tourism Board.”

The real-life inspiration for Rudyard Kipling’s “The Man Who Would Be King” and Joseph Conrad’s “Lord Jim,” Brooke was an English adventurer who sailed to Borneo in 1839 and earned the title of “White Rajah” after defeating pirates in Sarawak.

Brooke fell in love with the beauty, wildlife, and people of Borneo and embarked on a lifelong crusade against slavery, piracy, and headhunting. Queen Victoria knighted him for bravery. Brooke resisted British imperialism, so Parliament put him on trial for murder and piracy. Brooke fought back, founding a dynasty of Brooke Rajahs, who ruled a jungle kingdom larger than England for 100 years, until the eve of WWII. — DayakDaily