Iban migration to the Mukah, Balingian, Anap and Bintulu Rivers.

Iban migration to the Mukah, Balingian, Anap and Bintulu Rivers.

After Penghulu Minggat had attacked the Iban of Ensiring, a man named Kelukau migrated with his followers from Julau to Mukah. He was later followed by Penghulu Takin and his people. From the Skrang Penghulus Jelani and Merdan led their people to migrate to Bintulu in the Fourth Division.

From the upper Krian, Penghulu Umpang, the son of Chambai, born at Nanga Dran, Paku, led his people to the Balingian River. He was the first Iban leader to migrate to the Balingian, a river located in today’s Third Division.

In 1858 when the Betong fort was completed, chief Bunyau of Rantau Anak was commanded by the Tuan Muda to recruit first-class fortmen to guard it. In carrying out this order, Bunyau placed his son Bakir “Bujang Brani” and his nephew Malina “Panggau” in charge of the fort. They were assisted by Bunyau’s other nephews Ringkai “Bedilang Besi” and Biju, together with Maan and Glegan.

In addition to them, Bunyau looked for some more men from the Paku. Linggir “Mali Lebu” the chief of Paku, arranged for his nephew Mula to be appointed, together with Kandau, Umpang, Ugong, Randi, Broke, Endawi and Dau. From the Rimbas came Kadam and Aban of Teru.

Two years after they had been working as fortmen, Kandau, Ugong, Randi, Mula, Broke and Umpang resigned from the service in order to go to Sabah on a trading expedition. The leader of this first trading venture was a brilliant young leader named Kedit of Batu Genting in the Paku. He was accompanied by Mambang, Umpang, Randi, Kangkik, Tumbing and Laman apai Muri. Umpang and Randi had saved money while working as fortmen. Their salary in the service in those years was $6/- per month.

When they arrived in Sabah they stayed at Papar. Nearby lived Dusuns, Muruts and Bajaus who had acquired jars from Chinese traders in exchange for padi and water buffalo. From surrounding villages they purchased jars using silver dollars, satawak and bendai gongs and bedil (cannons) they had bought along the coast during their voyage to Sabah. Kedit bought three jars, Bandi, Umpang, Mambang, Kangkit, Laman and Tumbing bought two each. After obtaining these jars, Kedit led his followers back, after a two-month trading sojourn in Sabah.

When they reached home, Umpang built his longhouse at Nanga Tagun on the main bank of the Paku River. While he and his followers were settled there, they were very successful in their farming, so that they were able to buy more jars and brass objects of various kinds from the local Malay traders, namely Abang Tek and Abang Chek, formerly of the Paku and Rimbas. After his voyage to Sabah, Umpang never again went trading in foreign lands. He was content to lead his people to tap wild rubber at Lundu and Samunsam near Cape Datu. From the Paku Umpang migrated in the Krian and settled near the source of that river. While he was here, he went to Kuching to meet the Rajah who knew him well from the days when he had served as fortman at Betong.

During his meeting with the Rajah, Umpang asked for approval to migrate to the Balingian, a river situated between the Mukah and Tatau Rivers near the boundary between the Third and Fourth Divisions of Sarawak. The Rajah told him that he had allotted that river to chief Linggir of the Paku, and all his followers were allowed to migrate there if they wished. “If you are Linggir’s man you can move to Balingian with not less than one hundred families as soon as you like,” said the Rajah. The Rajah also ordered that Umpang should become the leader of the migration to prevent all who followed him from quarreling about where to settle in the new area.

When he arrived home he told the Krian people that he had been permitted by the Rajah to lead the migration to the Balingian River. Hearing this, the Iban of Santebu, Abu and Nanga Grenjang came to join the migration to the new area. Altogether there were over one hundred families. After they had built large boats for the exodus, they left the Krian and went along the coast towards the Balingian River to settle at a place above Nanga Pelugau. After they had settled at this place, the Rajah appointed Umpang as Penghulu over the Iban of Balingian. Some years later when more Iban had joined them, Penghulu Abu was appointed in addition to him.

From his first settlement near Nanga Pelugau, Penghulu Umpang and his followers moved down and settled in the Arip tributary on the true left side of the Balingian. While here they profited from the high price of jelutong, as this type of wild rubber was plentiful in the vicinity. The money they earned from this commodity was invested in Mr. Ong Ewe Hai’s bank in Kuching.

When the price of jelutong was down, Penghulu Umpang persuaded the Iban to plant sago and rubber along the lower banks of the Balingian and its tributaries. Penghuiu Umpang had four sons, Mulok, Kantan, Ambun and Lembang. Besides these he adopted two daughters, Tiong and Lenta, and a son named Nyegang. He died at the age of ninety years and was greatly mourned by his people.

He was succeeded by his eldest son Mulok, who, following in his father’s footsteps, led his people to work hard in order to earn sufficient food and money. Some years after he had become Penghulu, Mulok’s household suffered from smallpox, which killed him, Kantan, Lembang and some others. After his death, Penghulu Mulok was succeeded by his brother Ambun. When he was Penghulu, Ambun led his people to plant rubber at Salian, adding to the rubber gardens he had planted with his deceased brothers. During the Japanese occupation, due to a false report, he was accused by the Japanese Military police (kempetai) of having collected followers to rebel against the government. Due to this, Penghulu Ambun was executed without trial by the kempetai at Mukah near the end of World War II. After Ambun’s death his only daughter and her family returned to their old country in the Paku River, where they have lived to the present day.

Iban migration to the Anap River was jointly led by Berasap and Berain in about 1888. After this river had been populated by Skrang and Saribas Iban, Berasap was appointed Penghulu of the downriver area, and Bunya of the upper river. Berasap was succeeded by Penghulu Taboh. When Taboh resigned he was succeeded by Penghulu Begok who, at his resignation, was succeeded by Penghulu Buan. In the upper river, when Penghulu Bunya resigned, he was succeeded by Penghulu Kana, who was succeeded by Penghulu Banying.



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