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A popular alternative explanation is that it is a contraction of the four Malay words purportedly uttered by Pangeran Muda Hashim (uncle to the Sultan of Brunei), "Saya serah pada awak" (I surrender it to you), when he gave Sarawak to James Brooke, an English explorer in 1841.

James Brooke later became the first of the White Rajah dynasty to govern Sarawak.

In 1839, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin II (1827–1852) assigned his uncle Pangeran Muda Hashim the task of restoring order but his inability to do so caused him to request the aid of British sailor James Brooke.

It was also during this time that witnessed the birth of the Sultanate of Sarawak, a local kingdom that lasted for almost half a century before being reunited with Brunei in 1641. Located in northwest Borneo Island, Sarawak is bordered by the Malaysian state of Sabah to the northeast, Kalimantan, the Indonesian portion of Borneo, to the south, and the independent country of Brunei in the north.The capital city, Kuching, is the economic centre of the state and seat of the Sarawak state government.However, the federation was opposed by Indonesia leading to a three-year confrontation.The creation of the Federation also resulted in a communist insurgency that lasted until 1990.