Let’s travel across the other side of the world now to Malaysia and in particular to the former Empire colony of Labuan.
During the 1920’s, there lived there a most interesting personality known as “Rajah” Smith, a businessman overseeing an extensive coal mining operation.
Formerly a High Blantyre miner, the “Rajah” was then one of the leading lights of the districts surrounding Labuan. Well known and out of place with this coarse, Scottish dialect.
There was coal mine at Labuan, and Smith had come out to take charge. And he had taken charge! According to a written account of a British seaman, during 1924, Rajah Smith was “a little king there, and bossed all who worked there including those close to him, all and sundry in his own autocratic way.”
One of the first things Smith did was to acquire himself a lovely little island half a mile or so from Labuan, and here he constructed a fine house to be built. He had his own servants, and lived like king of the castle! It was a far cry from miner’s raws in High Blantyre. His companion on this adventure was a dog, a cross between an Irish Terrier and a native Dyak dog, which followed him about everywhere. Sometimes, when Rajah Smith left his companion on his island, the dog would actually swim over to the shore, not wishing to be left behind on any day.
From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2018
Pictured, coal being transported through the jungle, next to Labuan in the same era that Smith was in charge.
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