The Rising Moon : Political Change in Sarawak 1959-1972
The Rising Moon was the first in-depth study of the beginnings of modern politics in Sarawak between 1959 and 1972. The plural society of that state offered a stark contrast to that elsewhere in Malaysia, for in Sarawak viable political parties spanned ethnic divisions, a development that had not then taken place in the other parts of the nation.
Side-by-side with the development of politics came the integration of Sarawak within Malaysia, and all the attendant tensions that followed from the merging of this its largest state within an expanded federation. The resultant pattern of politics was dynamic, and throughout this phase remained quite tentative due in large part to Indonesian confrontation and the armed activities of the local communist organisation. Amongst the states of Malaysia, Sarawak is unique, as all groups are in a minority, whether they be defined by ethnicity, religion or mother tongue. That necessitated political compromise spanning ethnic, religious and cultural divisions.
Michael Leigh arrived to commence his research in Sarawak in December 1962, at a turbulent time just after the Brunei revolt had been suppressed and shortly before the start of armed Indonesian confrontation. He has maintained an active interest as an analyst of the processes of political and economic change, and has authored some 60 books, chapters and articles on Sarawak and greater Malaysia, in particular Council Negri Sarawak: Malaysia’s Oldest Legislature (1992), Mapping the Peoples of Sarawak (2002) and Deals, Datus and Dayaks: Sarawak and Brunei in the Making of Malaysia (2018). He has held the position of Professor at the Universities of Sydney, Melbourne and UNIMAS, where he established the Institute of East Asian Studies.