Sunday, 20 July 2008

Early Iban Migration 8

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 modem 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.