The Iban massacre at Trusan.

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.

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