Early Iban Migration – PART 4
ADVENTURES OVERSEAS BEGINNING OF IBAN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.
From ancient times the Iban have valued old jars, such as kuna, irun, belanay, jabir, panding, alas, rangkang, mandoh, jumat and gemiang, But the most valuable are jars of the following type:
Type of jars = Value in $
Salang-alang = 150.00
Rusa Salang-alang = 200.00
Begeri = 200.00
Rusa Begeri = 200.00
Rusa Randok = 250.00
Betanda Begeri = 200.00
Betanda Bendar = 280.00
Menaga = 300.00 – 350.00
Ningka Menaga = 320.00 – 370.00
Ningka Bendar = 400.00
Ningka Betanda = 320.00
Sergiu = 600.00 – 900.00
Guchi = 700.00 – 1,000.00
The reason these jars were valued by the Iban was that in ancient times, if anyone was guilty of murder, adultery, theft, or owed a debt, he would become a slave of the person he had wronged, or was indebted to, if he could not repay his debt or the fine imposed on him. Before money was widely used, fines were paid in jars (cf. Sandin 1980a: 3-4). Later, after the abolition of slavery by Rajah Charles Brooke in the 1880s, when money was still very difficult to earn, all fines Imposed by the government could be settled by the surrender of a jar to the court to avoid imprisonment of which the Iban were much afraid.
In addition to this, no chief was recognized as influential or powerful who did not possess valuable jars. In the eyes of the Iban one enemy killed in war was equivalent in value to two captives or two rusa type jars. If a chief or a warrior of good family was able to obtain a head, one or more captives and one or more jars, he would be recognized as raja berani, meaning “rich and brave”. It was because of this that thousands of Iban lost their lives in foreign lands from 1868 to 1908, seeking to acquire jars. From 1909 to the 1920s the Iban stopped hunting for jars in foreign lands, but they continue to buy them, if any were brought by traders to their longhouses.
Trouble with the Mualang Dayak.
Shortly after the Sadok war was over, the young warriors of the Saribas turned their attention from warfare to trade, as the Tuan Muda had advised them to do. Saribas leader named Kedit of the Paku went to work wild rubber at Sadong. He was accompanied by Kalanang, Usin, Tumbing, Manggi and Sagoh apai Basok of the Paku. This took place in about 1868. From Simunjan, they went up the Kraang tributary, but were unable to find enough wild rubber there to be worth working. The types of wild rubber they were looking for were nyatu puteh, nyatu rian, beringin, sebang, semalam, kubal tusu, gubi, kerik and perapat. Finding few of these trees in the Kraang, they traveled towards the upper Bayan, in Kalimantan. The Bayan is a tributary of the Ketungau River and is occupied by Mualang Dayak. At Ulu Bayan they built a temporary hut where they could stay while working the forests. After they had settled in the hut, one morning Usin, Tumbing, Manggi and Sagoh went into the forest to look for wild rubber, while Kedit and Kalanang went along a different route. Chupong stayed behind to look after the hut. While Chupong was alone in the hut, several Mualang Dayak came and attacked him with spears. He was wounded slightly on the knee, but was able to run away and hide safely in the forest.
Usin and all those who had gone with him to look for wild rubber were murdered by the Mualangs while they ate lunch in a Mualang longhouse, some miles from their hut.
In the evening when Kedit and Kalanang arrived back at the hut, they called for Chupong. But he had hidden himself and did not reply. However, as they were looking for him they noticed small drops of blood on dead leaves near the hut. They became worried and looked for him further from the hut. As they did this Chupong emerged, and told them that they had been attacked by a number of hostile Mualang and wounded by a spear in his knee. Because of this trouble, they thought they should leave the place as soon as they could, but because of their friends’ absence, Kedit decided to wait that night to see if they would return to the hut. Next morning, finding that Usin and his friends had not returned, Kedit and Kalanang took the wounded Chupong back to their boat at the upper Kraang in order to return to the Saribas. Kedit thought it unlikely that he would find his lost friends, and decided they would have to prepare to fight the Mualang.
On their arrival home they immediately reported what had occurred to chiefs Linggir “Mali Lebu” and Luwi of the upper Paku. On receiving the news of the death of his people, Luwi called upon Linggir and his warriors to take revenge on the Mualang for the death of Usin, Manggi, Tumbing and Sagoh. Linggir promptly agreed to lead his fighters against the Mualang. While the force was at its langkau burong hut, awaiting favorable omens for the war, a message was received from Simanggang, which forbade them to continue with their proposed war expedition. This message displeased Linggir and his warriors. So Linggir led a delegation from the Paku to meet Minggat at the Awik in order to ask him to help them apply to the Rajah in Kuching for approval for a war against the Mualang. On their way to the Awik, they happened to meet Minggat shopping in Saratok. After he had learned that Linggir and other leaders of the Paku were on the way to visit his house, Minggat told them to stay the night at Saratok, as he was completely unprepared to receive such an important group of influential men at his house. So Linggir and his followers stayed that night in Saratok. Next morning with the tide Linggir and his friends went up to Awik. On arrival at Minggat’s longhouse landing place, they bathed and dressed, and then Munan, the eldest son of Minggat, came down to invite them up to the house. When the Pakus reached it, they found that the longhouse was already full of guests from the Sabelak, Sebetan, Melupa, Krian and the Awik itself.
That night after dinner, Minggat called all the people to his ruai to discuss with the Pakus the reason for this visit by nearly all their important leaders. Linggir told Minggat that he had come for a very important reason, and a sorrowful one, He said that four of his people (anak biak) under Kedit had recently been cruelly killed by the Mualang Dayaks, while exploring for wild rubber in that people’s country at the upper Bay an, a tributary of the Ketungau. He said that Kedit had reported the matter to him, and that he and others had decided that the murders must be promptly revenged. But when they prepared for war, a message was received from Simanggang forbidding their proposed expedition. Disturbed by this intervention, Linggir said that he and all the leaders of the Paku were very dis¬appointed as they felt it was senseless not to take revenge upon the enemy, who had willfully killed their people without any prior quarrel.
“For this reason,” said Linggir, “we have come to you so that you may help us to apply for approval from the Rajah to attack the Mualang.”
In his reply, Minggat said that he personally very much regretted the incident. He assured Linggir that it meant as much to him as if his own people of the Awik had been the victims.
“But this problem is difficult,” he continued. “If our people had been killed by the Mualang inside our own territory, then it would be easier for us to ask permission from the Rajah to attack them. But as they were killed inside Kalimantan, the Mualang could say that they had been attacked by our people and so were forced to defend themselves,” said Minggat.
He then concluded that he would agree to go to Kuching with Linggir, if he would ask the Rajah to bring the matter to a court of law, rather than by fighting to avenge the death of these men. Linggir said that he could not agree with Minggat. He insisted that blood had to be repaid in blood. Hearing this Minggat told his Paku friends that the Rajah would certainly not approve of a war against the Mualang. Early next morning, the Pakus left the Awik. When they came to the mouth of the Kalaka, they paddled directly to the Sarawak River to meet the Rajah in Kuching.
When Linggir met the Rajah, he was told that he must not take the law into his own hands. The Rajah said that he would settle the matter by negotiation with the Dutch government so that the Dutch would persuade the murderers of Linggir’s men to pay the pati nyawa compensation to the heirs of the deceased. Shortly after this, Linggir died of old age in the Paku in 1874. Some years after his death, the compensation paid by the Mualang for the death of his people was officially given to their heirs at Simanggang in the presence of various government chiefs, including Penghulu Garran who had succeeded his uncle Linggir as chief of the Paku Iban.
The Iban acquire jars in foreign land.
In about 1867 a man named Jamit apai Madu of the Paku was serving as a crew member onboard a Malay sailing ship. During one of his voyages he came to Makassar in the Celebes. From there he went to Java and later to Singapore where he met Insol, a son of OKP Nanang of the Padeh, who was then visiting Singapore.
After Kedit and his followers had successfully returned with a number of jars from Sabah, another young Paku leader named Jungan of Matop, went with his followers by sailing boat to Sabah for the same purpose. There Jugan’s followers bought a number of jars while Jungan and his cousins Ancheh and Busu bought a sergiu jar each. On their arrival home, other young men were surprised to hear of the sergiu jars which Jungan and his cousins had purchased.
Encouraged by Jungan’s successful voyage, another three young warriors proposed to accompany him on another trip to Sabah. They were Budin “Grasi”, Kandau, Ngindang “Kumpang Pali”, and with them went two young Malay chiefs, Abang Tek, a son of Laksamana Amir of Spaoh, and Abang Chek a son of Laksamana Omar of the Rimbas. Before they sailed to Sabah they went to the Kapuas to purchase a valuable guchi jar from the Dayaks of the upper Melawi River. This they purchased at Sintang in the Kapuas, and took it to Sabah to trade. At this time the Brooke Raj extended only as far northwest as the Mukah River in what is today the Third Division of Sarawak, when they arrived at a port called Putatan in Sabah territory they were kindly permitted by Menteri Babu, a Dusun trader, to stay at his house. He owned a lot of old jars which he exchanged for the trader’s guchi jarlet. After each of the crew members had obtained two jars, they returned home happily. The story of their arrival with these jars encouraged more Iban to engage in the same sort of trade in foreign countries.
Shortly after this, Penghulu Minggat of Awik bought a sailing boat from a Malay man and went to Sabah to purchase jars. On this voyage he was accompanied by Sauh apai Ingging, Dampa apai Daong, Gundi, Manang Nyara, Nyanggau anak Mail and many others. At Putatan Minggat sold the guchi jarlet which he had bought from a Melawi Malay trader to Menteri Babu. With money from the sale Minggat bought six valuable jars, while Sauh bought four; the rest also bought a number of jars, according to their individual means. Minggat’s successful trading venture to Sabah greatly interested the Kalaka and Saribas Iban. At this time all young men of the region were fond of talking about Sabah as a place for trading ventures.
Iban voyage to Banjermasin.
In about 1875, Penghulu Kedit, a son of Embit of the Paku, with Penghulu Mula, the son of Renggi, led a group of Iban rubber tappers on a voyage from the Saribas to many places in southeast Borneo, as far as Banjermasin. They went in two sailing boats which belonged to Penghulu Kedit and Penghulu Mula. When they called at Singkawang and Mentrado, the Chinese of these towns were scared of them due to the fact that these regions had been harassed several decades earlier by the Saribas chief, Orang Kaya Pemancha Dana “Bayang”. From Mentrado they sailed to Pontianak, then to Sukadana and then to the town of Kayung. From Kayung they proceeded to Sampit and then sailed to Kota Warringin. From Kota Warringin they sailed for Banjermasin. On their arrival at this Sultanate, Penghulu Kedit and Penghulu Mula met Sultan Tengku Abdullah Yaksa and asked his permission to tap wild rubber in his country. The Sultan said that he could not permit them to stay long in his country. He ordered them to leave the following day in order that they would not frighten his subjects. At this time many people in Borneo were afraid of the Sarawak Iban because of their constant raids in the past.
As a result of this order by the Sultan, Kedit and Mula with their followers returned homeward. When they came to Sukadana town they asked for approval to work the wild rubber in that region from the local Rajah. The latter said he would approve their application provided they would agree to pay one tenth of the proceeds of the sale of their rubber to his government. Kedit and Mula to pay this tax and ordered their men to disembark. They stayed in a big hut (bansal) on the bank near their boats. A few days later when they had hired canoes from the local people they transported their luggage and working equipment to the forests upriver. They worked there for five months. After they had obtained a lot of rubber, they sold it to a towkay, who paid them forty dollars per pikul for it. This time they did not spend their money on jars, as they wished to take silver dollars back to their families at home.
After the “Lang Ngindang” trouble had been settled, a warrior named Linggi and his two sons Anji and Radin from Seruai, Saribas, went to Brunei. Linggi was the father-in-law of Aji who was killed during the fighting at Sungai Langit in 1858. Before they left Sarawak Linggi had openly declared that due to the death of Aji, he felt it was impossible for him to live in any part of the Brooke Raj, though he had, since the surrender at Sadok in 1861, been converted to Christianity by the European priests of the Anglican Mission. Some years after Linggi and his sons had settled in Brunei, Anji was commissioned by the Sultan to quell rebels in the upper Belait and Tutong rivers. This he did gladly, and due to his easy victory over the enemy he was given the rank of Penglima by the Sultan.
Some years later, Linggi and his family left Brunei for Sabah. After they had settled there Radin was commissioned by the Chartered Company Government to fight against rebels who lived around Kota Kinabalu (Jesselton) and along the Kinabatangan River. He fought these rebels with the help of Sarawak Iban who continually came to Sabah to look for old jars, which they acquired by working wild rubber and rattan. With, the support of his warlike Iban friends, Radin fought successfully against the rebels, so that the government of Sabah gave him the rank of Penglima. While Linggi and his family were in Sabah they abandoned Christianity and became Muslims. After they had been converted, Senabong and Timban, the sons of Aji, joined them. While there, Senabong and Timban told the Iban that they had come to Sabah in order to look for war charms which would make them invulnerable. After they had obtained them, they said that they would start a new rebellion in the Layar to revenge the death of their much lamented father, who had died while fighting against Brooke rule in 1858. As tradition has it, both these young men did indeed find charms and became invulnerable. But, unfortunately, one of them was caught and killed by a crocodile while swimming across the Sugut River at Lubok Sapi, chasing after a mouse deer; while the other died from “stomach ache”. It was said that it was due to Senabong and Timban’s deaths that the people of the upper Layar River failed in the late 1880s to renew their war against the Brooke Raj. On the other hand, Timban’s uncle, OKP Nanang apai Insol, was not rebellious. He succeeded his brother Aji as chief of the Padeh and middle Layar and was publicly praised by Sir Charles Brooke in the presence of the chiefs of the Second Division at Fort Alice, Simanggang, and promoted to the rank of Orang Kaya Pemancha in 1884. Ringkai, the successor of his cousin Bakir of Betong fort, was raised at the same time to the rank of Pengarah.
While Penglima Radin and the Iban in Sabah were busy fighting against native rebels for the Chartered Company’s government, the Rajah of Sarawak with the help of Orang Kaya Pemancha Nanang of Saribas, Penghulu Minggat of Awik and Jabu apai Umping of Bangat, Skrang, attacked Penghulu Ngumbang and his Ulu Ai followers in the Kedang range. After their defeat a considerable number of Ulu Ai Iban fled to the Emperan in Indonesian Borneo. Shortly after the Kedang war, in 1887, Penghulu Chulo “Tarang” of Ulu Krian died after a short illness.
In about 1888 Kalanang of the Paku built a sailing boat and took his followers to Sabah to buy jars. With him went Kalom, Rekan, Ibi, Chuwi, Gadin, Tangai, Mancha and Mandau. In Sabah all of them bought jars according to their means. But Kelanang and Mandau each bought a sergiu jar. When they landed at Brunei on their way home, they bought several pieces of brassware including a number of cannons. Later when they had reached Spaoh in the Paku, they fired these guns time after time, till they landed at their own house at Matop. The sound of these guns surprised everyone, who immediately came to Matop to see the jars and brassware they had bought in Sabah and Brunei. On the night of his arrival home with his sergiu jar, Mandau went to visit his girlfriend Sudau, daughter of a well-known warrior named Ambing “Merinsa” of Bangkit. When he told Sudau and her father that he had proved himself a man of some standing by buying a valuable jar, Sudau eloped with him inspite of his inferior status in Iban society.
Before Nakoda Kalanang and his followers had successfully returned from Sabah and Brunei, a well-known man named Lumpoh of Penom, with Entering and some others, decided to trade in Sabah. At this time Lumpoh had recently divorced his wife Chenggit, a daughter of Penghulu Minggat of Awik. In the course of the quarrel about the divorce, Minggat sent Lumpoh a lungga baut knife and a roll of raru creeper which meant that, if Lumpoh were really brave and adventurous, he should kill an enemy in battle or buy a valuable jar during a long voyage. Irritated by this insult, Lumpoh decide to leave, and accompanied by his friends, sailed to Sabah. When they came to Pulau Gaya near Jesselton, Lumpoh bought a sergiu jar, while his comrade, Entering bought two other valuable jars. After ail their friends had bought jars according to their respective means, Lumpoh decided to go home. On their way back to the Saribas, they discussed the celebration of a feast (gawai tajau) in honour of their jars. Lumpoh was very keen to ask a female bard named Indai Engkai of Igan to sing the chants at his feast so that the story of it would be heard by his former father-in-law, Penghulu Minggat. He did not want to invite any of the bards in Saribas and Kalaka to sing at this feast.
When they arrived home Lumpoh held a feast to honour these jars at Penghulu Mula’s house, at Nanga Nyalong, in the upper Paku. Shortly after Lumpoh’s Gawai Tajau festival was over, Penghulu Saang “Rumpang” of the lower Paku and Kadam of Teru, Rimbas, with their followers also sailed to Sabah for the same purpose of acquiring jars. On their arrival In Sabah, Rumpang helped all his followers first to purchase jars. After his crewmen had bought jars, there were no more for sale in that place. So they returned to Lawas near Brunei, as it was rumoured that here there were jars available for sale. When they came to Lawas, two jars were found, one of the menaga type and the other a rusa. Rumpang bought the former, but had not enough money to purchase the second. He was very disappointed and decided to auction his baku sireh (brass betel box), kuran (small brass container) and kachit (betel nut scissors) in order to buy the rusa jar. After he had bought both jars, he and his companions returned to the Saribas highly pleased.
After Rumpang and his crew had returned from Sabah, Insol, a son of Orang Kaya Pemancha Nanang of Padeh, with a number of young men from the Padeh and middle Layar, also went to Sabah. While there, they bought eighteen jars of various types. In the Layar no one other than Budin “Grasi” and Penghulu Insol took their people to buy jars in Sabah. The reason for this was that all the sons of chiefs in and around Betong at that time were fully employed as fortmen, which gave them the opportunity to buy a lot of jars from the Malay traders with the money they were paid.
After Insol had returned successfully from Sabah, Jungan of Matop in the Paku, again went to Sabah to buy jars. On this voyage he was accompanied by Ketit, Blaki, Ibi, Makop, Entri and Jugah. Jugah died in Sabah on this voyage. Because of this, Jungan and his companions returned to Sarawak and bought a number of betanda jars from the local Malay trader.
The Iban massacre at Trusan.
While Jungan and his followers were on their way home in 1884 they met a lot of Paku Iban under Utik and Gajong in two sailing boats headed north. Those who were in Utik’s boat were Gajong, Antau, Kalom, Ujan, Melebar, Maji and Kelali. At this time few families in Paku had saved more money than Utik’s family. Because of this, he and his brothers Nyanggau, Munan and Nuing were able to bring with them on this voyage the sum of nine hundred silver dollars. When they came to the Trusan River, they went up it and eventually tied up their boats at a Murut village landing stage. From there they went to the Murut house in order to buy jars. The Muruts appeared to be friendly and promised to help Utik and Gajong’s people get jars from their own people who lived further inland. Due to this good atmosphere, Utik and his friends were very happy; they waited for jars to be brought to them at the landing place.
It happened that one afternoon, Maji went out to look for jars in a neighboring Murut village. After talking with his hosts, he stayed the night in one of their homes. While Maji was staying in the Murut’s house that night, Ukit and Gajong and their respective followers who were in the boats asked the bard, Kelali, to sing renong samain (love songs) in order to make themselves happy. They did not sleep until early in the morning. At about 6 a.m. Kelali, who slept at the front part of the boat, woke up to wash his face. While he was doing this, he was suddenly shot by the Muruts. The unwary Kelali was killed and fell into the river. After this, the Muruts shot at the boats time and again. Seeing the danger, Ngadan jumped into the river to swim to the opposite bank. While swimming he was also shot and died in the water. Timbang also jumped into the river. He was shot in the buttocks. But he continued to swim slowly down river, and while he was swimming he received another wound on his leg from an enemy’s spear. While Timbang swam, he heard the repeated sounds of gun shots fired at the boats. At this moment Gajong, who was quick enough to equip himself with a knife, jumped to the bank to fight the enemy. He fought them very hard, and a number of the enemy were wounded and probably killed by his knife. But the enemy’s strength overpowered him, and he was caught, fastened with a rope and finally slain. Gajong was very strong and nearly invulnerable, which made it hard for the enemy to kill him quickly either with fists or knives. Utik left his boat later than the rest and fled into the jungle. The enemy struck at him as he passed them, but he parried their blows and managed to escape and save himself.
After some time Timbang, who had swam downriver, landed and slowly crept up the bank. He reached a mass of thick raka creepers which covered the huge trunk of a durian tree, and climbed up it. Later, as he sat hidden inside these thick creepers, he heard the shouts of Gajong and his opponents who were still fighting. According to Timbang’s story it took several hours for the enemy to slay Gajong. After Gajong had died, the enemy looked for Timbang downriver. While they were doing this, Timbang saw a huge hawk flying slowly above the tree top where he was sitting. He said that before then he had never seen such a huge bird.
Timbang who was suffering painfully from his wound, sat hidden quietly on the tree branch inside the thick creepers. While he sat there, he heard the enemy looking for him. They claimed they had found his trail of blood, but could not find the man who made it. After a while the enemy stopped their search and went away. That night Timbang left his hiding place quietly and went towards the enemy’s landing place, where he looked for a canoe he might use to go downriver. He found one, but without oars. So he paddled with his hands, till he reached a landing place belonging to the Tidong people. The Tidong are a race of indigenous people who had been recently converted to Islam. A Tidong family took pity on him and fed him and carefully tended his wounds. The next morning the Tidong transported him to the island of Labuan. On his arrival there, after he had reported the matter promptly to the British government, the surgeon operated and removed the bullets from his buttock. He was later treated by the government.
It happened that only a few days after Timbang had come to Labuan, Utik who had fled through the forest finally arrived at the Island. He too reported the massacre of his companions in the Trusan River to the government. After Timbang and Utik had been in Labuan for some days, H.H. the Rajah arrived there by yacht from Kuching. When he was told about the treacherous murder of his subjects by the Muruts at Trusan, he took Utik and Timbang back with him to Kuching. During the voyage, the Rajah told them that the Brunei Muruts of Trusan, under chiefs Ukong and Dayong, must be taught a lesson as soon as possible by means of a punitive expedition. The Rajah also accused the Brunei government of being unable to control its subjects who continually attacked small bands of Sarawak jungle-produce workers and traders.
Arriving in the Saribas, Timbang and Utik informed their chief, Penghulu Garran, of the incident. He promptly gathered all his best warriors to accompany him to ask for the Rajah’s permission to take revenge on the Trusan Muruts. But in his audience with the Rajah, the latter told Garran not to take the law into his own hands. The Rajah told him that he would consult the Brunei government officially about the matter. “If the Sultan does not take immediate action”, he said, “I will personally lead a punitive expedition from Sarawak to punish the Muruts and take over their country.” The Rajah asked Garran and his followers to return to the Paku. He also said that if he made war on the Muruts he would tell Pengarah Ringkai of Rantau Anak to ask them to join his force. From then until the expedition against the Trusan Muruts, negotiations with the Brunei government continued. When the Sultan and his officers would not condemn the murderers of the Saribas Iban, the Rajah annexed Trusan in 1885 without paying any money to the Sultanate of Brunei. Eventually, in May of 1900, the punitive expedition against the Muruts under Ukong and Dayong took place, and a considerable number of the enemies were killed. It was during this war that Penghulu Garran’s warrior Malina “Bujang Brani” changed his praise-name to “Balai Nyabong Nanga Trusan” due to his success in killing the enemy. He was attached to Pengarah Ringkai’s war boat. Penghulu Garran of Paku died in July, 1900, two months after this expedition.
Iban trading ventures to Malaya, Sumatra and Java.
While the Sarawak Government discussed the Iban massacre at Trusan with the Brunei Government in 1890, Penghulu Minggat of the Awik led many people to Singapore on the way to trade in Sumatra. At this time Minggat was already very old. He had been an extremely prosperous farmer in the Awik to which he had migrated, and he had become very rich in valuable jars and brassware, the type of property which was accumulated by rich Iban families in the 19th century. Besides being rich, Minggat was at this time one of the most senior Iban chiefs and war leaders in the Second Division.
When he met the Rajah in Kuching, the latter tried to persuade Minggat not to go so far a field because of his advanced age. But the old chief insisted that he must go in order to obtain a most valuable guchi jarlet as big as an egg plant, something no Iban had ever possessed. The Rajah asked him to change his mind, and said that if Minggat did not go, the Rajah would give him a diamond or a jar of the sort that he and his race valued so much. But Minggat told the Rajah again that he must lead his followers overseas. And as he had planned Minggat and his followers left Sarawak for Singapore by the S.S. Normanby in 1890. From Singapore the party sailed to Sumatra and landed at Panai. On his arrival Minggat paid a courtesy call on the ruler of the country, to whom he handed an official letter of introduction from the Rajah of Sarawak. For this meeting Minggat specially wore the official uniform given to him by the Rajah before he left.
At Panai Minggat and his followers bought jars of various types, including a considerable number of Bangka jars. While they were still trading Minggat fell ill and subsequently died of stomach ache. His name is remembered in song to this day:
Minggat apai Runai parai di Panai,
Seberai tiban Nanga Saan.
“Minggat the father of Runai died at Panai,
Opposite the mouth of the Saan” (River).
Nyanggau anak Mail of Awik, Kalaka.
After the death of his father, Munan suggested that the party proceed to the nearby town of Jambi. But his brother-in-law Nyanggau did not agree with this. He urged them all to return to Singapore quickly, to catch a steamer to Sabah. But Munan would not go, as he knew that their companions had not enough money for the voyage. This was why Munan suggested they work first at Jambi. Nyanggau could not be persuaded to stay any longer in Sumatra, so he returned alone to Singapore where he caught a steamer about to sail for Sabah.
When he arrived at Sandakan, Nyanggau met a number of Iban who had come from Paku and Rimbas to work there. He joined their company to go up the Kinabatangan River and tap gutta percha along the Kuamut tributary. Here, Baai anak Kadam and his friends from the Paku joined the group. After they had worked for some months in the Kuamut they sold their rubber in Sandakan where they received $200 each. After their rubber had been sold, Nyanggau suggested that they should cease working in the jungle. He thought that it would be more profitable to work for the European Tobacco Company than to tap wild rubber in the forest. All his friends agreed with this, so they asked him to meet the tobacco estate manager to ask for jobs. The manager agreed to engage the Iban at 35 cents a day. So they began to work on the estate with Nyanggau as mandor, or overseer.
At this time Nyanggau’s brother Ambu arrived in Sandakan. Shortly after his arrival he worked in another estate, where he earned $150 for one year’s work. After they had worked for the estate for over a year, Nyanggau and his friends including Ambu, Ngadan apai Simbah of Rapong, Gayong apai Gurang of Babu and Asan “Lang Rimba” of Nanga Gayau of the Rimbas went to Mindanao to purchase old jars. They sailed there in a boat which they had purchased for $150 from the Bajau. The voyage was very dangerous. They saw many Bajau and Illanun pirates hiding among the small islands on the way, waiting to rob trading vessels. On their arrival at Mindanao, the people were afraid when they told them that they were Sea Dayaks from Sarawak. So Nyanggau asked the police to escort him to meet the ruler of the country. At this meeting, Nyanggau told him that he and his friends had come from Sarawak hoping to purchase valuable jars. Hearing this, the ruler gave Nyanggau a permit to trade freely in his country. In addition to this, the ruler ordered Nyanggau to berth his sailing boat at his own wharf.
Eventually, after they had visited many places, Nyanggau bought eleven jars for himself. His brother Ambu and others such as Gayong of Babu, Ngadan of Rapong and Asan “Lang Rimba” of Nanga Gayau only bought one or two jars each. After he bought the jars, Nyanggau told his friends that he was running short of money, and urged them to return with him as soon as possible to Sabah. However, when his friends learned of his decision, a sharp argument arose, for they did not want to go back until they had bought jars with the money already in their hands. But Nyanggau insisted. After a long argument, Ambu, Ngadan and Gayong told Nyanggau to return to Sabah alone. They refused to let him use their sailing boat, so Nyanggau returned with his property to Sandakan in someone else’s boat. After Nyanggau had gone, Gayong apai Gurang bought six jars, Ngadan six, Asan “Lang Rimba” six and Ambu two. After they had bought these jars, they sailed back to Sabah and there met Nyanggau who was working in Sandakan. He had sold one of his jars to an Iban, as he was in need of money for expenses. He joined them again and they returned to Sarawak. Their arrival home with so many jars pleased their relatives and friends in the Awik and Sebetan rivers.
Shortly after he had returned successfully from Mindanao, Nyanggau again sold two jars to get money for a trip to Kotei in southeast Kalimantan. When he came to Kotei he and his friends tapped wild robber. At the sale of his rubber Nyanggau received $1500, which he kept to purchase jars. While he was thinking about buying jars a Malay friend of his chanced to meet him and told him that he would like to help him buy jars, if Nyanggau would trust him. They were close friends, so Nyanggau handed over all his money to this man without hesitation. The Malay went off and Nyanggau never saw him again. After being swindled by his friend, Nyanggau could not bring himself to start to tap rubber again in that country. So he returned to Sarawak, but in his shame he did not come home to his wife and children in the Sebetan. Instead he settled at the mouth of the Rejang, where he married a local woman from the region. While he was living in his new wife’s house, he planted padi with the members of her family. With the proceeds from farming, Nyanggau started to trade bubok (shrimps) and blachan (shrimp paste) with the Iban who lived in the lower Rejang. After he had earned a consider¬able amount of money from selling shrimps and shrimp paste, Nyanggau started to trade gongs and modem jars manufactured in Sarawak with the upriver Iban of the Rejang. He made a lot of profit from this trade. In 1902 he joined the “Cholera Expedition” against Bantin and died at Nanga Delok in the epidemic which killed several thousand people.
Iban trade to Kota Warringin and Mindanao.
Late in the 1890s a man named Passa traveled from Sekundong in the Paku to Kota Warringin near Sampit in the Sultanate of Banjermasin in Indonesian Borneo. His reason for going was to work wild rubber from the proceeds of which he intended to purchase a jar. After Passa had served Pengiran Ratu for several years, the latter knew him for a very trustworthy man. So he grew to like him very much. Eventually, in his fondness for Passa, the Pengiran presented to him five old jars in appreciation of his diligence, obedience and sincerity. Passa was very pleased to have been given these jars which were highly valued by the people of his race. Soon afterwards he told Pengiran Ratu that he wanted to take his jars back to his own country, but that he would come back again after he had blessed them with a gawai tajau festival according to Iban custom. So Passa left Kota Warringin for Sarawak. When he reached home, his relatives and friends were very pleased to see the number of jars that he had brought back with him. In their joy, when Passa told them and Malina apai Kampong, the headman, of his wish to celebrate a gawai tajau in honour of his jars, they promptly agreed. So the feast was held and people from many longhouses were invited to attend.
Shortly after the feast was over, Passa went to Kota Warringin again, keeping his promise to Pengiran Ratu. This time he was accompanied by a man named Libu “Badilang” from the same longhouse. When they came to Kota Warringin, they looked very hard for jars. But they could find no others apart from one which Libu bought. After he had bought this jar, he and Passa returned to Sarawak. About a year after he had returned from his second trip to Kota Warringin, Passa went there once more. On this trip he was accompanied by Maling apai Sawat, Rambuyan, Salau, Sujang, Begali, Encharang apai Libau, Ansa apai Jaang, Ulau “Gurang” apai Jabo, Junau and Muyu, all from Paku. On the way to Kota Warringin and while they were there, these Iban worked wild rubber. They all earned money, but only Muyu was fortunate enough to be able to buy two jars, while Salau bought one. Due to their failure to find jars Ulau left the party and returned to Sarawak. From Kuching he sailed in a schooner to Lawas near Brunei, seeking jars. His friends Sujang and Begali also returned and from Kuching they sailed to Sabah. From there they traveled northward until they came to Mindanao in the Philippines. Since then they were never seen in Sarawak again.
Libu “Badilang” of Sekundong, Paku.
After Passa and Libu had returned from Kota Warringin, Libu led his followers from the lower Paku to Singapore. From Singapore Libu and his followers went to Pahang where they worked as casual laborers for the Government. At Pahang Libu met Geraman, the brother of Penghulu Saang “Rumpang” of Sungai Pelandok, Paku, who was a Museum Collector there. Libu joined Geraman who often went with Ulok, a famous collector for the Museum, to shoot birds and monkeys for specimens in the forests of Pahang near Kuala Temerling. After Geraman and Libu had worked for four and two years respectively under Ulok, they returned to Sarawak. Geraman brought home with him even more money than Libu, who had saved one hundred Straits dollars.
Shortly after his return from Malaya Libu joined Rentap of Beduru and Demong, the son of Ambing “Merinsa” of Bangkit, and the three left to tap wild rubber in Limbang. But when they came to Limbang the Sarawak Government asked them to join a punitive expedition against the Kayans of the Upper Limbang. They did so, and during the fighting Libu and Demong each killed an enemy. Due to their success, Libu was given the praise name of “Badilang” and Demong that of “Matahari”. When “Badilang” later became headman of the Sekundong longhouse, the people prospered. Due to his diplomacy and justice in dealing with his people’s affairs, “Badilang” became one of the best-known Paku headmen of his time. During the government expedition against Bantin of the Ulu Ai, he was appointed one of the leading warriors under Penghulu Saang “Rumpang” of the lower Paku.
Iban trade to Malaya, Sumatra and Sabah.
While Passa and his associates were trading at and around Kota Warringin, seventy-four people from the Paku, Rimbas, Krian, Sabelak, Layar and Undup under Nyaru anak Munji of Paku, sailed to Singapore, and thence to Jambi in Sumatra, in order to work wild rubber. When they arrived at Jambi, they found very little rubber to work. So they crossed the Straits of Malacca to the Malay Peninsula to work rubber around Kuala Lumpur, then the capital city of the State of Selangor. But when they got to Kuala Lumpur, they discovered that the Selangor Government had forbidden the tapping of forest trees in the State.
Before they could find work to do, the Federal Government invited them to join the government forces being sent against the rebels in Pahang. After the rebels had been defeated, the Iban divided themselves into three groups. One group went to work wild rubber at Bidor, Sungkai, Ipoh and Tanjong Malim. The second group went with Nyaru and Entingi apai Brenai to look for rubber in Trengganu, and the third group followed Malina “Ensoh” to work in Perak. Out of all these, the group under Malina “Ensoh” earned the most money. After these people had arrived home, Legam anak Lemada of Jukun in the Paku led his followers to Sabah to work wild semalam rubber near Sandakan. When they sold this rubber they received a fair amount of money which they brought home with them.
After Legam and his party had returned from Sabah, Mujah anak Mambang of Nanga Buong in the Paku and his followers left home to go to Perak in Malaya. But when they were about to set sail for Singapore from Kuching, they were stopped by the government, as the authorities at that time only permitted Iban to work in the State of Sarawak. Not discouraged by this, Mujah led his followers to the north, where they intercepted the steamship which plied between Singapore and Labuan. After they had stayed two days in Singapore they paddled a boat across the Johore Straits to Malaya. On their arrival, they found the government had forbidden the tapping of wild rubber because this was destroying the forest trees. So they returned to Singapore where they met many Iban who had come from Sarawak under Penghulu Saang “Rumpang” and Nyaru anak Munji.
From Singapore Mujah’s party joined a party of Iban under Kok, following another party of Iban who had gone to Langkat in Sumatra under Geraman, the younger brother of Penghulu Saang of Paku. After they met Geraman and his followers at Langkat, Geraman suggested that they sail to Temiang with him in a boat he had made himself. They did so, and then went up the river till they reached its first tributary. At this time Acheh was at the height of its rebellion against the Dutch. The Iban knew this, but they were anxious to work rubber and therefore ignored the danger. Later, when the followers of Penghulu Saang, Nyaru and Geraman joined with those who had gone to Temiang with Mujah and Kok, there were seventy-six people from the Second Division in their group.
After they had been working for five months in the Temiang three of them were murdered and one wounded by Acheh rebels. Those who were killed were Asut of Undup, Apai Sumping and Atar both of Sabelak. Unjil from Undai in the Rimbas was seriously wounded. When Penghulu Saang and the other leaders saw this, they ordered their men to make wooden shields for war. When they had finished their preparations for revenge against the Achehs, Saang called for a final discussion. It became clear that the minority of the leaders thought it was very risky for seventy-two of them to attack hundreds of thousands of the enemy. So these leaders ordered all of them to return at once to Singapore, living much of their rubber at many places along the banks of the Temiang River. Those who refused to return home were Sana, Pasai, Entipan, Merupi, Sunggom, Antin and Lidom. They were all from Danggat’s longhouse at Getah on the Anyut, a tributary of the Paku River. They never came home, except for Entipan shortly before the Second World War, but moved to Kelantan in Malaya in 1941. It was because of these people’s failure to return home, that Danggat’s large longhouse in the Anyut eventually ceased to exist. Its inhabitants moved to join the people of other longhouses.
In Singapore, Penghulu Saang and his party met a Paku man named Manang Bakak who was with his friends on their way to look for work in Malaya. After he had been told of the trouble in the Temiang in Sumatra, and also of the many tons of rubber left by the Iban in the jungle there, Bakak and two of his men decided to go there to collect the rubber and sell it for themselves.
When Saang and his party left Singapore for Sarawak, Bakak and his companions departed for Temiang in Sumatra. As they went by canoe up the Temiang River, they passed many hostile groups of armed men gathered on the gravel river beds. Finally, Bakak and his friends reached the place where rubber had been left by Saang and his followers. There Bakak and his friends loaded as much rubber as their boat would hold. After this, Bakak decided that one of his friends was to sit in the bow and the other in the stem of the boat. But in view of the danger which they might encounter on their way down the river, the two men would not obey Bakak’s instruction. They were not very brave and neither one dared sit in the bow or the stern of the boat.
Seeing his friends’ lack of courage Bakak became worried so he asked them to give him a towel. When they did, he recited into it a spell called ilmu bangkai, which can cause the enemy to fall into a very deep sleep. Later he put this towel beneath a stone under water in the river. This done, Bakak ordered his friends to paddle their boat quietly down the river with himself paddling at the centre. They passed several groups of the enemy sitting on the huge dry gravel beds of the river, but the enemy drew back and did not harm them. After passing all danger, Bakak and his companions shouted loudly as if to tell the enemy that they had escaped from their ambush. Hearing this, the enemy fired at them with shot guns but no bullet hit them, Bakak and his companions managed, to reach the town next morning where they sold their rubber.
Mat Salleh’s Rebellion in Sabah.
While many Iban went to work wild rubber and jungle produce in. Malaya, South Borneo and Sumatra, many others went to Sabah for the same purpose, hoping to acquire valuable jars. In Sabah, after Penglima Anji and his brother Penglima Radin had grown old, a certain influential half-Bajau, half-Suluk chief named Mat Sslleh led many of the Sabahans in a rebellion against the government. At the start of this rebellion, Nakoda Usang of Sabelak sailed to Sabah and opened a trading business at Papar. He was shortly afterwards followed by Nakoda Bali also from the Sabelak, Kalaka.
When Nakoda Usang was running his business at Papar, he was commissioned by the Chartered Company Government to attack Mat Salleh and his followers who had fortified themselves at Sayap-Sayap. This fortress was built on a high, steep hill difficult to attack from the low ground. There was no high ground near it from which this fort could be attacked with guns or cannons. When they were constructing the fort, Mat Salleh and his followers built its walls of huge boulders and logs of wood, to make it impenetrable even to cannon balls. In addition they gathered a lot of wood with which to crush the enemy if they ventured to climb the steep hill to attack the stockade.
During the preparations for the expedition, Usang had summoned the Iban who had come to Sabah from the Batang Lupar and the Rejang to join him. And with these people he and Nakoda Bali of the Sabelak, attacked Mat Salleh at Sayap-Sayap several times, but could not harm him, nor could they approach his stockade on the fortified summit of the hill.
The arrival of Nakoda Tinggi at Sandakan.
While Nakoda Usang was fighting against Mat Salleh and his followers at Sayap-Sayap, Nakoda Tinggi of Paku arrived at Sandakan from Singapore with three of his friends. On their arrival they joined the North Borneo Constabulary and were given a contract of three years. After two years of serving in the Constabulary Tinggi was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal which he retained till his resignation a year later. At the expiration of his contract, the Commissioner of the British North Borneo Constabulary urged Tinggi to renew his service. But Tinggi explained to him that he preferred to collect rattan and wild rubber in the jungle for trade than to continue working for the Government. Hearing this, the Commissioner told Tinggi that, if he would continue working for the Government, he would promote him to the rank of Sergeant. Tinggi did not accept this offer and resigned from the service, leaving his friends Luta, Ganggang and Berayun to work behind as Police.
To start his business, Tinggi borrowed two hundred dollars from Ganggang, and added this to the money he had accumulated while he worked as a Constable. After he had completed his preparations for jungle work, Tinggi left Sandakan by boat and traveled upriver for seven days till he reached the Mengadau tributary. This area was inhabited by the Bisayas, Tidong, Dusun and a mixture of other native tribes. On his arrival at Nanga Mengadau he hired people to collect rattans for him from the Perangan Cape forest, which was a huge area of uninhabited virgin forest. But rattan vines were scarce in this area, and so his business was a failure. Just above this point, the river was not navigable because of a number of very dangerous rapids. Only after one day’s traveling by boat to Nanga Meridi was the river deep and smooth again. From Nanga Mengadau, after he failed to collect rattans, Tinggi went up to the Ulu Labuk. He was liked by the people there due to his honesty in dealing with the people who worked for him. In fact he became a man most trusted by the people of the Ulu Sugut, Ulu Pugalan and Ulu Mumus who presented him with many cattle and water buffalo. Besides giving him these, they voluntarily helped him trade these animals in the Sandakan market.
One day while Tinggi was doing his business at Ulu Labuk, he was officially summoned by the Government to come down to Sandakan. There he was asked to become a joint leader with Usang in an attack on Mat Salleh in his stockade at Sayap-Sayap. Tinggi promptly agreed to help the Government, but was a bit unhappy because of Usang’s attitude towards him as they did this work together.
Having agreed to help the Government attack Mat Salleh with Usang, Tinggi called for all the Saribas Iban who were already in Sabah to join him. When they had finished making their preparations for war, warriors under both Usang and Tinggi proceeded to the enemy’s fort at Sayap-Sayap. But when they got near the foot of the hill they unfortunately heard the voice of the embuas (Banded Kingfisher) omen bird. On hearing it, Usang declared that the omen was excellent, because the warriors whom he had led in the past were now being led by a mightier war leader. These words of Usang were an insult to Tinggi who had never before led anyone to war. Usang knew that this omen was bad, and indeed foretold particular danger to the most senior of the warriors in the force. But Tinggi was silent. He did not take Usang’s insult to heart, as he knew that Usang was afraid of being dominated by him in their joint leadership. Tinggi also knew that this omen was dangerous mainly to Usang himself, who was an experienced war leader who had fought Mat Salleh several times before. As for himself, he was a young leader, and he knew that this omen would be harmless to him.
The voice of the embuas omen bird can have two meanings. It is a burong gaga (happy omen) if it is heard when one begins to travel and it is a burong sinu (sad omen), especially for a leader if it is heard at the end of one’s travels. Now since it was Usang who was the senior leader of the expedition, this omen was for Nakoda Usang himself and not for his junior partner Nakoda Tinggi.
Eventually, when the troops were ready to attack Mat Salleh’s fort, Tinggi suggested to Usang that their warriors should be divided into two groups, in order that it be easier for them to besiege the hill; but Usang did not answer him at all. He appeared to be very unhappy with Tinggi’s presence in the force. Seeing that Usang was in a bad mood, Tinggi started to move towards Mat Salleh’s fort. He was instantly followed by Guroh, Luta, Ugol, Jantin, Kubut, Berayun, Uju, Ulau “Gurang”, Jaiya, Tunggay, Randi*, Enteri*, Ganggang, Datu, Belaki and Asan “Lang Rimba”. They were all from the Saribas and mostly from the Paku. Some men of the Krian also followed Tinggi: Bawin, Meling, Medan, Dawil and Tajak. When he saw that Tinggi and his fighters had gone, Usang rose up and quickly ran ahead of them. But in spite of Usang’s unpleasant behavior towards him, Tinggi controlled his temper. He did not speak a single word in anger. At last they looked up towards the enemy’s fort on the top of the hill. Suddenly the enemy flung down a huge stone, which by chance landed on Usang’s head and killed him instantly. Because of this, Tinggi ordered the force to retreat in order to carry Usang’s body back home for burial.
After the body of Nakoda Usang had been buried, Tinggi returned to his house at Ulu Labuk, where he managed his affairs as before. But shortly after he settled down, he was called again by the Government to Sandakan. On this trip, he was accompanied by his brother Nyanggau, Guroh and Dawil, who wanted to sell their rubber in the town. While he was in the capital, Tinggi met his Excellency Mr. Creagh, then the Governor of Sabah. At this meeting the Governor asked Tinggi what he was doing at Ulu Labuk and Ulu Sugut. Tinggi told him that he was tapping wild rubber and collecting rattan in the forests. He also told the Governor that he was living in a very strong fortified house, because of the many enemies wandering about near the place. Hearing this, Mr. Creagh asked where these enemies came from. Tinggi said that Mat Salleh’s followers were living in scattered groups in Ranau, Tambunan, Keningau and Ulu Papar, around Mt. Kinabalu and up to the Ulu Mumus. Tinggi explained that they did not dare to live at Ulu Labuk and Ulu Sugut for fear of the Sarawak Iban who traded and had settled there.
After the Governor learned of all the places where the enemies were living, he requested Tinggi to stop trading. Instead, he proposed to pay him fifty dollars per month, and in addition to that, he agreed that one tenth of the yearly poll-tax collected by Tinggi in the Ulu areas of Labuk, Sugut and Ranau should be paid to him too. Tinggi told the Governor that it was unnecessary for him to look after the affairs of the people at Labuk, Ranau and Sugut for Mat Salleh had sworn that he would not raid the people of these regions, where a lot of Sarawak Iban were living peacefully. Hearing this, Mr. Creagh agreed that Tinggi could continue to trade at Labuk, but he requested him to take care of the affairs of the natives there, so that they should not join Mat Salleh and other rebels. He modified their agreement, confirming that the Sabah Government would pay Tinggi twenty-five dollars per month plus one tenth of the yearly poll-tax he would collect. Tinggi agreed to this and told the Governor that he would do the work entrusted to him so that peace could be preserved in the Ulu Labuk, Ranau and Sugut rivers.
Before Tinggi and his friends returned home, the Governor loaned them one shot gun each, and assured them that if Mat Salleh and his followers attacked Labuk, Ranau and Sugut, the Government would certainly reinforce them with Iban Constables. Tinggi was very satisfied with the Government’s assurances and was glad to return to Labuk next day, accompanied by Berayun, Uju, Jaiya and Ganggang who had recently resigned from Constabulary service, in addition to Guroh, Nyanggau and Dawil who had left the force some years before.
When they reached a public landing place at Nanga Meridi, they employed the Bisayas to carry their boat up along the various dangerous rapids between there and another landing place in the upper river, while they themselves walked along the road which Tinggi had built with Government funds. After their boat had arrived, they unloaded their luggage. And shortly after they had finished, Mat Salleh and his friends suddenly appeared on their way from the Ulu Mumus. On seeing them Mat Salleh stared and then called to Nyanggau, whom he instantly recognized.
Nyanggau answered him and Mat Salleh said, “Lama betol kita tiadak berjumpa, Nyanggau” (“It’s quite a while since we last met”).
“Ya, betol lama, Mat Salleh”, (“Yes, it certainly is,” replied Nyanggau).
After they had talked for sometime, Mat Salleh led his friends back to the Ulu Mumus. They did not ambush the people of Ulu Sugut as they were afraid of Tinggi and his followers, who were armed with shot-guns.
From there Tinggi and his friends went to Pensiangan. A day after their arrival in that place, a Dusun chief named Bangkut came and reported to them that Mat Salleh had built a stockade at Ranau in addition to the one at Sayap-Sayap. The location of this stockade was at the border between Ulu Labuk and Ulu Pugalan, tributaries of the Padas River. Tinggi reported this to the Government at Sandakan and appealed to the Government for the assistance of the Iban Constables. In compliance with his request, the Government dispatched Sergeant Luta, Sergeant Ngenang, Sergeant Jerenang, Sergeant Nion, Sergeant Ringgit and Sergeant Balang leading a force of troops to reinforce him. When they came to Tinggi’s house, he told them all about the position of Mat Salleh’s fort, and about the two thousand families of Dusuns in the area who favored Mat Salleh. Tinggi said that before the erection of the fort all the Dusuns had been living peacefully under his control. He also told them that Mat Salleh himself was living at Tambunan, from where he led his fighting men to attack small towns and villages in many areas. However he always avoided the Labuk and Sugut regions for fear of the Iban who worked in the forests there.
After the war expedition was fully prepared, Tinggi led his men, including the constables from Sandakan, to attack Mat Salleh’s fort at Ranau. They fought very hard and eventually defeated the enemy. After the fighting was over, Tinggi conferred praise-names according to Iban custom on all his warriors who had successfully slaughtered enemies, such as “Tedong Ngelantar” to Sergeant Luta and “Badilang Besi” to Kubut. Many others received ensumbar (praise-names) at this time, but their praise-names are not remembered. After Mat Salleh’s fort at Ranau had been stormed, Tinggi attacked him again and again, and small battles were fought in many places. He was assisted by Guroh, Dawil, Jantin, Berayun and about ten others from the Sabelak and the Rejang in Sarawak.
On one of these expeditions they left Pensiangan and stayed a night at Ranau. Next day they left for Ranagong and stayed the night in the Police Station. At about 4 a.m., since the night was cool, Jantin lit a fire outside the building to warm himself. In its light he was seen by the enemy who were reconnoitering and he was shot in the stomach. After this the enemy continued to shoot at the Police Station building from the darkness. The Police returned the fire, but it was impossible to harm the enemy who hid themselves under cover of darkness. Early that morning Tinggi and his fighters went out after the enemy, leaving Jantin in a critical condition. After some hours of unsuccessfully tracking the enemy, Tinggi brought all his followers back to the Police Station to look for Jantin. But when they reached it, Jantin had already died. All his friends and relatives who had joined the expedition were stunned by this death of their well-beloved friend-in-arms. They took his body back and he was eventually buried in a cemetery at Nanga Mengadau below Pensiangan.
After the death of Jantin, Mat Salleh rebuilt his stockade at Ranau. He armed it with dozens of cannons captured from the many towns he had attacked. When he knew this, Tinggi went to report the matter to the Government at Sandakan. On his arrival at the capital, he requested the Government to support him by sending Iban Constables. The Government promptly agreed to help him, and directed Mr. Jones to command the Constabulary troops that were to leave for Ulu Sugut the following day. When they arrived at Tinggi’s house, a council of war was held in which it was agreed that all the Constables were to be under the direct command of Mr. Jones, while all the Iban from Sugut, Ranau and Labuk were to be under Tinggi.
While they prepared for the expedition, Tinggi informed Mr. Jones that all Mat Salleh’s warriors were already gathered in the fort. Tinggi also said that while he was away meeting the Government officials at Sandakan, Mat Salleh had completed a huge circular ditch round the fort. He explained that because of this it would be impossible for their advancing force to get near the fort. After Mr. Jones heard this, he suggested that their combined forces leave early next day to attack Mat Salleh’s fort. He felt sure that they could easily capture the fort after an exchange of cannon fire had taken place.
After the conference was over, Tinggi asked all his Iban warriors to prepare for the next day’s march against the enemy’s stockade. Hearing this Guroh and his brother Ugol said that if the attack was not for the purpose of taking revenge on the enemy for the death of their cousin Jantin, they would not even be prepared to bring themselves to gaze upon the Ranau region. But they said that as it was a man of Mat Salleh who had killed Jantin, they would join the force and kill the enemies with their swords. Another warrior Berayun also stated and wept as he did so, that he too would join the force to avenge the death of his lamented cousin Jantin. Having heard the speeches of his friends and relatives, Tinggi said that this expedition was for revenge upon the enemy for the death of Jantin, whom, Mat Salleh’s man had killed.
“So tomorrow, when we advance towards the stockade, we must be subtle and brave, so that we can kill many of them”, Tinggi said.
Early next morning the force under Mr. Jones and Tinggi set off towards Ranau. Tinggi was followed by Sergeant Luta “Tedong Ngelantar,” Guroh, Nyanggau, Ugol, Berayun, Uju, Kubut “Badilang Besi”, Bedindang, Randi, Enteri, Sergeant Jerenang, Sergeant Balang, Dawil, Bawin, Jaiya, Ganggang “Pipit Manchal”, Meling and Medan. Of these, he directed Luta, Kubut and Bawin to take the lead (ngambu dulu). All the young Iban constables went with Mr. Jones as agreed in the conference.
They stayed the night at Ulu Labuk after a day’s march up the Sugut River. A temporary camp was made for them by friendly Dusuns, under chief Bangkut. When the Dusuns built the shelter, Tinggi and his warriors moved on ahead to spy upon the enemy. Mr. Jones wanted to join them, but Tinggi thought it was not necessary for him to do so. After the meal that night, Tinggi proposed to Mr. Jones that they hold a final meeting to discuss the path to be used while they advanced towards the enemy’s stockade. Mr. Jones agreed, so the conference was held. In it both leaders agreed not to march in any exposed places, such as the spine of a hill, so that they would not reveal themselves to the enemy.
Early next morning the forces under Tinggi and Mr. Jones separated, each using a separate route through the thick undergrowth below the main path towards the enemy’s stockade on top of the hill. Tinggi marched first, closely followed by Luta, Guroh, Ugol and Nyanggau. They went quietly along the low ground near the side of the road. When they were near enough, they fired a bedil (cannon) hitting the wall of Mat Salleh’s fort several times and killing some of the enemy. During the exchange of fire many of Mat Salleh’s warriors hid themselves in the ditch. After a long time, Tinggi’s cannon balls managed to break down the stockade. But when they entered the fort they found it deserted. Mat Salleh and his followers had fled away down the other side of the hill.
The force under Mr. Jones had ill luck. As they proceeded towards the fort, before Tinggi fired the cannon, Datu of the Rimbas, who was first in the advance through the bush, happened to show himself in an open place. As he did this, he was struck down by the enemy’s cannon shot. Seeing him dying, Mr. Jones went to rescue him and was killed by an enemy shot in the same place. After the defeat of Mat Salleh’s forces, Tinggi commanded his troops to return home in order to bury Mr. Jones and Datu at the Nanga Mengadau cemetery.
Shortly after the expedition, Tinggi and his friends began to fortify their own houses with stones and huge blocks of wood. After they had finished, Tinggi went down to Sandakan by boat with his brother Nyanggau, Guroh and his brother Ugol, Berayun and Dawil to sell rattans, and also to return to the Government the shot¬guns loaned to them for the attack on Mat Salleh’s fort at Ranau. Having done this they returned home. On their arrival they learnt that Mat Salleh and his followers had left Ranau and had begun to build yet another stronghold in the centre of the huge Tambunan plain. This plain is roughly fifteen miles square. Here Mat Salleh was joined by the native chiefs Ramantai, Kenyawan and Sabayai and by two Iban convicts, Salang and Impin, who had recently escaped from prison. Besides these, a great number of Bajaus, Suluks and Segamas also joined him. They were the people who built the fort for Mat Salleh.
At its completion, Mat Salleh brought to the fort his three wives and their children. But he forbade his followers’ wives and families to come and crowd the fort, hindering the fighting men. So the families of his followers were left in their respective houses. After he had fully settled into this stronghold, Mat Salleh and his followers raided the town of Keningau. They did not slaughter those who did not resist them, but only killed those who favored the Chartered Company Government. Mat Salleh and his warriors next attacked the towns of Papar, Tuaran and the Embawan. The former rebels from these towns had been loyal to the Government ever since their defeat by Nakoda Radin of Saribas and Nakoda Bali of Sabelak, Kalaka, who lived in Keningau.
While Mat Salleh was busy raiding the smaller towns and villages of Sabah, the British and her Colonial Territories all over the world celebrated Queen Victoria’s Jubilee in 1897. In honour of this, the Government of the North Borneo Chartered Company sent a detachment of Dayaks of the British North Borneo Constabulary to England. Those who were selected to go were Sergeant Balang of the Rimbas, Sergeant Luta “Tedong Ngelantar” of the Paku, Sergeant Jerenang of Batang Lupar and Sergeant Ngenang of Penunus, Rimbas, in Saribas.
At the death of ex-Penghulu Luta “Tedong Ngelantar” in 1939, the District Officer of Saribas wrote:
The death is reported of ex-Penghulu Luta of the Paku. He had served in the British North Borneo Constabulary and attended the Jubilee of Queen Victoria when a detachment of that force was sent to England.
He used to talk of his experience in the Knights-Bridge barracks, where the detachment was billeted. He always maintained that the B.N.B. Constabulary were just as smart as the Scots Guards, who apparently were in the same barracks. Apart from the Jubilee itself Paddington Station seems to have attracted Luta the most.
When they were in London the Iban performed their traditional dances such as ngajat, bepencha and bekuntau for the concerts. They understood the Queen’s speech through Malay interpreters. During their stay of six months in Britain they visited other cities in England, Wales and Scotland.
After they had returned from Britain, they found that Mat Salleh was still very active. He had just raided the towns of Putatan, Jesselton and Kimanis. Due to this, the Government ordered Tinggi and his Iban force to attack him at Tambunan. Tinggi proceeded to attack Mat Salleh’s followers in accordance with Iban customs of war in which, if a settlement is defeated, all of its inhabitants are killed, including the women and children. Due to his defeat at Tambunan by Tinggi and his warriors, Mat Salleh no longer dared to venture again into the Sugut and Labuk regions.
Shortly after he had been defeated at Tambunan, Mat Salleh attacked Jesselton once again. During this raid, his warriors looted the Chinese shop houses and destroyed Government property including several buildings. Before he attacked Jesselton he first raided Embawan, Papar and Putatan. After these towns were defeated, he raided the town of Pasir China which was strongly defended by European and native soldiers. After the surrender of this town, Mat Salleh and his warriors went by boat to attack Pulau Gaya which they defeated easily. During this expedition Mat Salleh left his household under the care of chiefs Kenyawan, Ramantai and Sabayai, who were very much afraid of Tinggi’s troops in Sugut and Labuk. After they had captured the Government officer in charge of the Treasury, shotguns and ammunition, Mat Salleh’s men ransacked and burnt the Government buildings. They did not kill the Chinese as none of them seemed to be hostile. On their way back to Tambunan, Mat Salleh’s men were again attacked by the Iban of Saribas and Kalaka. During the fighting along the road, Manang Jabu and Sadai of Kalaka and Gurang and Dana of Paku killed a number of the enemy. After a long battle, Mr. W.R. Flint ordered the Iban to retreat. Gurang and Jampi of Paku protested strongly, for they wanted to kill more of Mat Salleh’s men. But after they were called back by military order they returned to join the force.
When he returned to Tambunan, Mat Salleh rebuilt the fort which had been destroyed by Tinggi. He placed the captured Government treasurer in a cell under his own close watch. In his leisure time Mat Salleh invited this important prisoner to supervise the placing of cannons around the wall of the fort. Behind this wall, the gunners could hide themselves in trenches when they fought. At this time Mat Salleh’s power was at its zenith. He felt very secure and did not think that the Government would send a punitive expedition against him from Sandakan. The only people he expected to attack him were Nakoda Tinggi and his Iban warriors from the Labuk and Sugut rivers.
But the Government forces started to take back the towns and villages which had fallen into the hands of Mat Salleh. After they had recaptured all of them, the Government began to attack Mat Salleh at his Tambunan stronghold. The intended raid was extremely difficult to undertake, as it took seven full days to transport the fighting equipment from Nanga Putatan to the edge of the Tambunan plain. When the force had done this, the cannons were mounted in position on the slope of a low hill, about eight miles away from Mat Salleh’s fort. It was impossible to fire at Mat Salleh’s fort from there, for from this distance the cannon balls could not reach it.
After they had prepared several days, Tinggi suggested that the ditch which supplied Mat Salleh’s people with drinking water should be blocked to cut off the enemy’s water supply. This suggestion was promptly accepted by the other war leaders, and the ditch was blocked immediately. The next day, Mat Salleh’s people became very troubled at the shortage of water for drinking, washing and bathing. The only other source of water was about seven miles away from the fort. Due to this distance, Mat Salleh’s followers were only able to draw water once each night, for fear of the enemy who were constantly watching their movements.
When they were all ready for the attack against the stronghold, the Government force began to shoot at it with mortar fire. The first shot only quieted the enemy who hid themselves inside the long circular trench within the fort and were not hit by the shells. But when the second shot was fired it hit Mat Salleh. Mat Salleh was hit in the head and killed instantly with some of his warriors. Seeing that he was dead, the native chiefs Ramantai, Kenyawan and Sabayai immediately led the survivors out of the fort. As they came out of the building they waved white flags up and down, to inform the Government in the distance that they would fight no more. After all of Mat Salleh’s followers had left the fort, the Government treasurer captured by Mat Salleh at Pulau Gaya came out of his cell and escaped to safety.
After they had abandoned the stronghold, Ramantai and his friends went to report the death of Mat Salleh to Mr. Everett, the Officer-in-Charge of the Government force. Hearing this Mr. Everett, Tinggi and the other leaders went to the fort and saw his body for themselves. After they were satisfied that Mat Salleh had been killed, they conducted his three wives and their children to Sandakan. Some months later, one of them married an Iban named Impin, a convict who had in the past joined Mat Salleh in the defense of his stronghold at Tambunan. After the war one of Mat Salleh’s favorite gongs (satawak) was presented by the Government to Tinggi in appreciation for his aid in attacking Mat Salleh’s strongholds in many places. When she saw this, Mat Salleh’s first widow wanted to buy it for two hundred dollars from Tinggi but he would not sell it, as he wanted to keep it as a memorial of his many encounters with the famous Sabah rebel leader. Tinggi had fought against Mat Salleh at Tuaran, Timbau Batu, Mumus, Sugut and together with Nakoda Bali of Sabelak, Kalaka.
After the rebellion was over, Tinggi continued to trade at Ulu Sugut, where he bought rattan, wild rubber, cattle and water buffalo from the natives and sold them to the Chinese traders at Sandakan. In addition to the profit he made in these tran¬sactions, he also received $750 each year as 10% of the taxes he collected. But Tinggi did not long enjoy the prosperity brought by his business. He suffered from an incurable boil on his back and died of this while only in his late forties. In honour of his meritorious service to the State, the Chartered Company Government mourned his death with one day’s holiday, and flags flew at half-mast throughout the State.
After the death of Tinggi, his business fell into the hands of his illiterate brother Nyanggau, who had in Tinggi’s honour been appointed the Iban chief of Ulu Sugut. But Nyanggau was ignorant of trade and his business was soon bankrupt.
On hearing of the death of Tinggi in Sarawak, his cousin Luta “Tedong Ngelantar” of Samu in the Paku, accompanied by Mujah anak Mambang, went to Sabah to settle the deceased’s affairs. When they came to Sugut they found only six water buffaloes, twenty cows, four cannons (bedil), six chanang gongs, six other gongs, one set of engkerumong gongs and one rusa type jar still to be sold. Other than these, the following goods were kept by Mr. Applin at Labuan: one satawak gong, two bedil and two chanang gongs. After they had gathered all these goods, Luta and Mujah brought them back to Sarawak and surrendered them to Tinggi’s sister Mengu, of Samu.
When Nyanggau was chief at Sugut, there were still minor clashes between the ex-rebels and the peaceful people of the area so he and Nakoda Bali were frequently ordered by the government to lead punitive expeditions to dislodge these dissidents.
The arrival of Nakoda Kassim in Sabah.
After Nyanggau’s death he was succeeded as chief of Ulu Sugut by Guroh of Semambu, Paku. This chief had assisted the late Nakoda Tinggi in dealing with native affairs in the Sugut, Labuk and Ranau regions. When Guroh was chief he was aided by his brother Ugol and Nakoda Kassim and his brother Muling of the Awik, Kalaka. The two brothers Kassim and Muling came to Sabah when Tinggi was chief at Labuk, Sugut and Ranau. On their arrival in the State, they tapped wild rubber in the forests near Labuk like other Iban. They joined the expeditions against Mat Salleh under Tinggi and Bali, and in these wars Kassim killed several enemies.
Nakoda Kassim was an educated and honest man. Because of his fairness in dealing with native affairs at Labuk, Guroh, the chief, recommended that he be made chief at Labuk. This recommendation was approved by the North Borneo Government and Kassim became chief of Labuk. At this time Muling died of old age in Sandakan. Eventually Kassim was able to join the Government service as a clerk. Later he was promoted to Deputy Assistant District Officer at Ranau, with the power of magistrate, a post which he held for many years with the rank of Orang Kaya Kaya. He married the daughter of a Dusun chief. When he retired on pension he took his family back to the Kalaka. At home he associated himself closely with the Anglican Mission and became the staunchest financier and supporter of the advance of the Church and of mission education in the Kalaka and Saribas Districts till his death in 1929.
After Nakoda Tinggi and others had gone to Sabah, Uyut, the eldest son of Penghulu Garran of the Paku, together with Ipa and Chentu went to tap wild rubber near Bintulu. While he was there Uyut met a man named Gima of the Ulu Krian who was doing the same work in the district. After they worked together Uyut joined Gima, leaving Ipa and Chentu, and went to Singapore. From there the two went to Trengganu to tap wild rubber with other Iban who had arrived there before them.
After they had been working for some months in the Trengganu forests, Uyut met Nyanggau of Nanga Buong, Paku, and together they went to Kuala Lumpur and joined the Police Force. Due to his efficiency in the service, Uyut was soon promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal, taking the name of Enche Ibrahim, due to his conversion to Islam. After his promotion, the Government commanded Uyut to join a punitive expedition under Sergeant Tampang of the Awik to fight the rebels at Bentong. They were joined by Kelumpu of Krian and some other Iban. During the fighting Uyut was reported to be very brave. It was said that he fired at the enemy who were hiding in the bush and killed a lot of them; while he himself and two friends behind him stood exposed on the top of the fort. He himself was not hit. They said this was due to the effect of Uyut’s empelias charm, which has the power of protecting its owner from being touched by any kind of war weapon.
After the fighting had ended, Uyut led the Iban out after their enemies to the jungle where he and his comrades Katang, Kelumpu, Embol and Nyanggau slew a great number of the rebels. Uyut himself killed nine enemies and took many captives, whom he conducted in two perahu to the Police Station in town. Due to his gallant service on this expedition, Tampang gave Uyut the name of “Muntegrai”. This was done according to Iban war custom in which an ensumber (praise-name) is given to a man who has killed enemies. After this, both Sergeant Matsirong and Lance Corporal Ibrahim always led expeditions together against the rebels at Bentong and in the State of Pahang.
Advancement of the downriver Iban.
While the upriver Iban were rebelling against the Sarawak Government, those who lived downriver enjoyed peace, which enabled them to trade in foreign countries, It was because of the new developments they saw during their adventures that a man like Penghulu Kedit of the Paku first started to plant coffee trees and pepper vines in 1885. In relation to these innovations of his, the Sarawak Gazette, dated 12th November, 1892, published as follows:
Kedit, Ulu Paku chief visited Simanggang. He sold the produce of his pepper garden; his coffee trees have not yet produced. Kedit mentioned he should like to go in for cattle, I told him to arrange with his people and let me know how many he wished to keep. I advised him to purchase from the Government Kabong herd and cross with Abang Sut (of Spaoh).
But for some reason Penghulu Kedit never reared cattle. His ambition was finally fulfilled when his nephew Legam, in company with Nyaru and Nyanggau of Kerangan Pinggai, found a suitable piece of grazing land for the purpose in 1926. Cattle rearing are still going on to the present day on this pasture. After Kedit had planted his coffee trees, many agriculture-conscious Iban followed his example. From the profit of these plantations the Iban were able to purchase a great number of brass cannons, brass areca-nut boxes and gongs of various kinds and types. These antiques are still kept by the Iban of the Paku as heirlooms in memory of their forefathers’ adventures before the turn of the century. The pepper and coffee plantations soon declined due to the advent of rubber planting which was started by Budin “Grasi” and his son Lumpoh in the late 1880s. The first rubber seeds planted in the Saribas were bought by Lumpoh while he was trading in Singapore. In all these ventures the Iban profited much more from rubber than from any other cash crop. Coffee trees grow very well in the country, but as there was no proper market to buy the beans, planting was abandoned due to the loss which the planters suffered when the product was sold. After the First World War ended In 1919, the Iban of the lower rivers started to plant more Brazilian Para rubber (imported by the government from Singapore), particularly in Sabu along the Undup near Simanggang, in the Saribas and Kalaka districts and around the towns of Sarikei, Binatang and Sibu in the Rejang river, up to the lower Kanowit and Julau rivers. With the money earned from the sale of rubber, the Iban of Saribas and Kalaka improved their standard of living and took to serving modern food and drink at their various festivals. Besides this they used the money they earned from rubber to finance their children’s education in the Mission Schools at Simanggang, Betong, Saratok and Sibu up to the eve of the Second World War.
At this time, although the Iban rebellion in the Gaat had just been quelled, the upriver Iban of the Batang Lupar and the Rejang and Baleh were still not very loyal to the Sarawak Government. In 1929 their younger warriors joined the revolt led by Asun “Bah Tunggal” of Entabai, Kanowit, which lasted until 1933.
Modern Iban longhouse and dress.
From 1908 to 1924, there were a number of Iban from the Saribas and Kalaka and a few from Banting on the Lingga River working as temporary collectors under Ulok anak Sadai of Ulu Krian at the Selangor Museum in Kuala Lumpur. At this time whenever the Director and his senior staff were on expedition, they took these Iban to many Indonesian Islands including New Guinea. On these trips the Iban were able to see much of the development taking place in the Dutch Empire.
Influenced by the design of houses they had seen in foreign countries, particularly in Malaya and the Dutch East Indies, the Iban of Sengiam, Paku, first modernized the construction of their longhouse in 1914. Penghulu Dalam Munan who had been living near Sibu since 1898 had already built nine shopnouses in the town some years earlier. The longhouse at Sengam was built similar in design to the Chinese shop houses of those years. Furthermore as time went on, many Iban of the lower rivers especially in the Saribas and Kalaka regions modernized the fashion of their houses and enriched them with modem furniture. Besides modernizing the fashion of their longhouse buildings, the lower river Iban also started to wear European dress around 1900. Before this, only very few Iban who had settled near the Malays wore trousers, shirts and hats. They adopted the new dress from the Javanese and Malayans with whom they came into contact when they visited these countries after 1888. The upriver Iban retained their traditional costume till after the Second World War.
The Second World War years.
When war was declared by Japan against the Allied Powers at the end of 1941, it surprised many in Sarawak, including those who lived far in the interior. At the beginning of the war not many people actually believed that British power in the Far East could be so easily and quickly defeated by an enemy in such a short fight. Because of this, very few people in Sarawak had laid in a sufficient stock of clothes for the three and a half years of enemy occupation.
Before the landing of Japanese troops, the Sarawak Government ordered that the oil installations at Miri and Lutong in the Fourth Division were to be completely destroyed by fire. This was promptly done by members of the Sarawak Constabulary under Police Inspector Mr. Juing Insol and others. About a week later the Japanese forces landed at Miri. Before the Japanese battalions landed in Kuching several bombs were dropped at various targets in the town, such as Fort Margherita and the benzine store near the Borneo Company. But these last bombs fell on the Borneo Company building itself. The others destroyed one of the Customs godowns in front of the Main Bazaar. Before the bombing of Pearl Harbour, one Japanese vessel had already arrived and was anchored below Kampung Penglima Seman near the present Tanah Puteh Wharf. Its cargo was coal, but hidden beneath the coal were soldiers who were waiting for the order to land. From the day of her arrival this vessel whistled day and night, which caused people to think it had struck the rocks.
When they landed in the First Division, the Japanese came in along the Santubong delta and the Luba Kilong near Pulau Kra to land at Semariang. From this place the troops marched towards Bukit Siol and then down the Astana Road to attack Kuching. When they reached the town proper they met no resistance at all. So the Military Police (Kempetai) went straight to Fort Margherita, the Central Police Station and the various Government Offices. In the Secretariat and other Offices they arrested the European civil servants including the Officer administering the Government, Mr. C.C. Le Gros Clarke; the Chief Secretary, Mr. J.B. Archer and Mr. Selous, the Secretary for Chinese Affairs. After these officers had been detained, the European doctors in the General Hospital and the priests of the Anglican and Roman Catholic Missions, including Rt. Rev. F.S. Hollis, the Bishop of Labuan and Sarawak were also arrested and detained with their colleagues in the Government Rest House on Rock Road (now Tun Abang Haji Openg Road).
The Japanese troops who came by ship from the Santubong delta to Kuching were attacked by the Punjabi regiment at Bintawa Lama. Due to the strength of the Japanese forces, the Punjabi retreated but reformed to attack the enemy again at the 7th Mile, Batu Kawa, Batu Kitang and at the Satok suspension bridge with members of the Sarawak Field Force and Coast Guard.
After Sarawak had officially surrendered to the enemy, the Military Police sent the local high-ranking Police Officers to capture the other European Officers in the Outstations. As a result, Mr. J.C.H. Barcroft was captured at Ban, Mr, A.R. Snelus at Simanggang and Mr. AJ.N. Richards at Belong. Many others were also captured but their names and the places of their arrest are not remembered. On their arrival in Kuching, these officers and the others who had been arrested earlier were transferred to the detention camp at Batu Lintang. Today this camp has been renovated and incorporated with the modem buildings of the Brooke College.
From the beginning of the occupation, the Japanese Military Government re¬quested that all the Asian Government servants remain at their jobs. In spite of this request, all the Rajah’s most loyal servants resigned; but those who strongly supported the new Government were promoted to top posts, made Residents, District Officers and heads of various departments. Among the European civil servants, only the Acting Resident of the Second Division, Mr. G.R.H. Arundell, managed to escape Japanese arrest. Instead of surrendering himself to the Military Government he fled to the Ulu Ai where he lived under the care of his Iban friends, Penghulu Ramba and his brothers in the upper Mujan. But the man who really looked after him and his family was an ex-rebel named Mikai, one of Asun’s followers. In 1942, the shocking news was received that Arundell, Sendie anak Bungka, his wife and their young daughter were murdered by the famous convicts Pong, Ijau and Unying. It was said that when the murder took place, Mikai was absent from the house.
When Penghulu Ramba and his brothers Rantai and Ngindang reported the matter to the Government after the war, an investigation was made. During this investigation, Unying, Pong and Ijau accused Mikai of having murdered the Arundell family. Mikai denied this and said that the murder was actually committed by the three convicts who had hated Mr. Arundell. He further alleged that since these convicts had been released by the Japanese from prison, they had become restless, trying to find ways to revenge themselves against Mr. Arundell who had sentenced them to prison due to their involvement in the Asun affair. The arguments continued, until Mikai invited the three to test the facts by a customary selam ai, or diving contest. This challenge was accepted by Pong and his friends. But when the contest was held the three suspects lost it, and therefore they were surrendered to the Government for detention. This case was later settled by the Allied Military Government in 1948 and the murderers were executed according to the Sarawak code of law. The skulls of the Arundelis were reburied at Pudu Cemetery near Betong in the Saribas District in 1943.
During the enemy occupation, civil communication between administrative Divisions in the country was completely non-existent. Due to this, the people were kept in the dark about the others’ affairs. The few people who owned radios were strictly ordered by the Military to surrender them to the occupation Government. Those who owned outboard engines were also ordered to surrender them to the Government. Due to their ignorance about affairs outside their own district, the Iban and other people of all races did nothing other than plant padi. Those who farmed close to the Divisional and District headquarters suffered most, as they were forced by the Japanese to sell their padi to the Government, but as the Japanese officers were afraid to approach the natives in their longhouses, this demand was not so successful. But all those who could sell more than five piculs of padi to the Government were given medals of various grades and flags. Other trade carried out by the people was strictly controlled by the Government.
As the war years went on, the majority of the people, especially those who lived downriver, suffered from the terrible shortage of clothes, while the upriver people suffered from a shortage of salt. It was because of these problems, that the Iban of the upriver started to argue and refused to pay the various annual taxes, or to have anything to do with the Japanese Government. Because of this attitude the Japanese demanded that all shotguns be surrendered to the police stations.
But all these needs resulted in a number of new inventions by the Iban. Dunging anak Gunggu of Nanga Ulai, Rimbas, started to produce shoes, shorts, raincoats and paraffin oil from dry sheets of rubber. Besides this many Iban also revived their ancient art of making fire with a grindstone (batu titik) and tinder (lulut), or by striking a lead piston (guchoh) with a quick punch to produce fire. In general the Iban were not badly short of food during the occupation years. Those who could not get sufficient rice were given a loan by their neighbours or freely supplied by relatives. Things to go with rice, such as fish, meat and vegetables were plentiful. During the war years most Iban farmers planted rubber trees on their farmland. In addition to this they also planted local tobacco for their own consumption and for sale. From illegal trading in rice and tobacco, the Iban earned a lot of Japanese money during the war, which afterwards became valueless.
By 1944, the situation was becoming worse. Rumors were spreading that the Japanese army everywhere was facing defeat due to shortages of food. Due to these stories the upriver Iban started to incite rebellion, becoming more and more hostile to Government servants. It was at this time that late Penghulu Ambun of Balingian was tortured to death by the Kempetai (military police). In 1945 more rumors were spreading secretly in the upper rivers. It was said that British and Australian parachutists had landed in Central Borneo and were forming a native force of Ibans, Kayans, Kelabits, Kenyahs and Muruts to fight the Japanese garrisons. The rumors were true, for Major Tom Harrisson, Major G.C. Carter, Colonel David Leach and Major W.L.P. Sochon had already landed on the Kelabit plateau in the Fourth Division. The landings of these military officers pleased the long-suffering and warlike people, who helped to spread the secret news from one river to another from the Fourth to the Fifth and from the Third to the Second Divisions of Sarawak.
Finally when the time had come for them to attack the Japanese under the super¬vision of these white men, fighting flared up at Pasir Nai, Kapit, Song and Kanowit in the Third Division. In the Second Division raids on the Japanese were undertaken without European leadership. The Iban under Pengarah Jimbun and Penghulu Ngali invaded the Japanese garrisons at Engkilili and Lubok Antu, where the old fort was razed by fire. It was later replaced in 1947 by the Colonial Government with a new modern building called Fort Arundell. When the Iban attacked the Japanese at Kapit, Penghulu Nyanggau anak Penghulu Atan, who was the brother of the Honorable Penghulu Jinggut M.P., bravely followed the Japanese into a hole where they were hiding, and was killed.
In the Fourth Division battles were fought in many centres which dispersed the Japanese soldiers and civilian officers. It was at this time that many starving Japanese stragglers were killed by the natives. In the Saribas a troop under Penghulu Ulin anak Penghulu Unji of Spak failed in an attack on Fort Lili where the Japanese repulsed the Iban invaders with several dozen machine guns and rifles. After this failure, many of Ulin’s warriors joined their Skrang comrades-in-arms to reinforce the Iban troops who invaded Engkilili and Lubok Antu towns. These troops were made up of Iban of Ulu Layar, Ulu Spak, Skrang, Lemanak, Engkari, the Batang Ai, Delok, Mepi and Lubang Baya. During the raids a number of Chinese were slaughtered in and outside towns of the Second and Third Divisions. It was for this reason that the Chinese started riots in many towns in Sarawak including Kuching the capital, after the Japanese had officially surrendered to the Allied Forces. The heads taken during conflicts in the rural areas are still kept in some longhouses in memory of the Second World War.
*Randi’s praise name was “Lidi begendang sara letan, angkat karat tekan lebungan” which he obtained on return from the Rajah punitive expedition to Batang Ai. He was the brother of Enteri. They joined Nakhoda Tinggi’s forces during the Mat Salleh’s rebellion in Sabah. He was later converted to islam and settled at Sandakan till his death. His descendent still kept his nyabur sword he used to beheaded Mat Salleh’s daughter -the very long hair of Mat Salleh’s daughter is used to decorate his nyabur.
*Enteri’s praise name was “Bujang berani meling nengeri pulau London, rumput siut tengah laman.” This praise name was obtained as he was the only Iban representative from BNBCC who dare to take a ride on a helicopter encircling the London City. His descendant is still living in Lubok Longhouse in Sarawak. He also went back to Sabah and remarried there where his descendant can still be found. (Enteri x Linah (f) = Leman x Churai (f) = Garit x Jara (f) = Lambong x Talit = Ramuyan x Emellya = Aaron Juan, Jesse Rayes)
Extract from articles originally written by Benedict Sandin & Professor Clifford Sather.
Re-compile for weblog publication by Gregory Nyanggau Mawar.
Published in the Sarawak Museum Journal, Volume XLVI, titled “Source of Iban Traditional History”, Part 1, 2 & 3.