Disunity among the Layar and Padeh Iban under Bunyau Apai Bakir and Aji

 

Disunity among the Layar and Padeh Iban under Bunyau Apai Bakir and Aji.

When the fort was built at Betong under the joint supervision of Mr. J.B. Craickshank and Bunyau apai Bakir in 1858, Aji, the third son of the late OKP Dana “Bayang”, fought against all who had submitted to Brooke rale in the lower Layar River.

At the completion of the fort, Aji and his warriors from the Padeh and Ulu Layar attacked it with a few exchanges of fire, showing their complete disagreement with the people of the lower Layar under chief Bunyau Apai Bakir. At this time, Linggir “Mali Lebu” and all the people of Paku were completely neutral, as they had relatives in both of the quarelling groups.

Due to Aji’s action, the Tuan Muda led a force from the Skrang fort, composed of the best Skrang and Balau fighters, to punish Aji and his supporters. When the Tuan Muda arrived at Betong he was joined by the Iban and Malays of Betong under Mr. Watson, the Officer-in-Charge, including Bakir, Malina and the other fortmen.

The expedition was very well planned. At the request of Bunyau and Maoh, no other warboats went up the Layar ahead of those owned by the Saribas Iban. This was in order to save the lives of the ordinary people who were living beyond Nanga Padeh. However, when the force reached a big dry gravel bed at the mouth of the Sungai Langit, Aji suddenly appeared and came forward to attack the government force assembled in the river. Seeing him crossing the shallow rapids fully armed, a Malay man from Spaoh named Bruang shot him with his gun.

After Aji, the arch enemy of Brooke rule, had died, the Tuan Muda ordered his forces to stay one night at the mouth of Sungai Langit. Next day the forces divided into two columns. One column was sent to the Julau to punish Mujah “Buah Raya”, while another, led by the Tuan Muda, attacked Libau “Rentap” at Sadok. This later engage¬ment was known as the Second Sadok expedition.

Before the force had left, no Saribas Iban dared to behead Aji for fear of becoming the deadly enemy of his brothers and their followers. So it was decided that the Skrang should do it, as they lived safely near Fort James at the mouth of Skrang River. The latter agreed and so took Aji’s head back with them to the Skrang when the expedition was over. Several years later it was taken back and buried in the Padeh, for Aji kept appearing in his own shape or in the form of a crocodile which killed a number of people in the Skrang River.

In anger over the death of his brother Aji, Luyoh went to Mukah to negotiate with Sharif Masahor who was also planning to rebel against the Brookes. The Sharif assured him that he would supply gunpowders for those who rebels against the government of Sarawak. Having been assured of this, Luyoh and his brother OKP Nanang built a stockade at the mouth of the Spak tributary so that they could avenge their brother’s death against the Brookes and Bunyau apai Bakir. This stockade was attacked by Mr. Watson and Bakir in 1859.

Within a month of his defeat, OKP Nanang rebuilt the stockade, but it was attacked again by Mr. Watson, Bakir, and Abang Aing. Very shortly after its re¬construction, the doomed fortress was completely demolished.

Orang Kaya Nanang & Luyoh joined Libau “Rentap” on Mount Sadok.

After these defeats, OKP Nanang and Luyoh joined Libau “Rentap” at Sadok. They brought to the mountain a gun known as “Bujang Timpang Berang” which their father had captured at Sambas many decades earlier. This famous gun can be seen today at Fort Lily, Betong, Saribas.

From their stockade at Sadok, OKP Nanang and Luyoh and their followers together with Libau “Rentap” fighters supported Sharif Masahor’s rebellion. They openly joined the latter in his defence at Mukah and Igan until his defeat in 1861.

Two months after the deportation of Sharif Masahor to Singapore in 1861, the Tuan Besar, James Brooke-Brooke, and his brother the Tuan Muda, Charles Brooke, led a big expedition against OKP Nanang and Libau “Rentap” at Sadok. On this expedition, taught by past experience, the Tuan Besar took with him a big gun known as “Bujang Sadok”, to storm Libau “Rentap” stronghold. This gun is today exhibited in the Sarawak Museum in Kuching.

The force went up the Layar River to Nanga Tiga. From there, it went up the Tiput, crossed the Spak and went on to the foot of Sadok Mountain. While assembling there, the Tuan Besar and the Tuan Muda informed all the Iban chiefs of the lower Saribas and Skrang that the government had no intention of continuing its quarrel with OKP Nanang and Luyoh, provided that they agreed to surrender themselves as soon as possible. This proclamation pleased the divided Saribas Iban. They agreed to send the most trustworthy messengers to OKP Nanang and his brothers on the mountain to urge them to surrender to the government. All the Iban leaders agreed to send the Bangat chiefs under the leadership of Jabu apai Umpang and his brother Ngadan apai Rembi to meet OKP Nanang and Luyoh in their stronghold.

These chiefs went as arranged. When they told OKP Nanang and his brothers about the Brooke’s offer, they said that they would surrender if this was not just a trick to execute them. After OKP Nanang and all his warriors had given the Brooke’s request very careful consideration, they went with nine of their warriors to meet the Rajah’s nephew to confer on the conditions of their surrender. When they met the Brookes, they were asked to pledge 400 rusa jars valued at about $3,200 as proof of their good behaviour. If they did not cause any trouble within the next three years, their deposit would be refunded to them at the expiration of the agreement. OKP Nanang and Luyoh fully agreed with the imposition of the fine and therefore, on their behalf, their loyal old warrior, Uyu apai Ikum of the Ulu Julau, paid the fine in the presence of all the important persons taking part in the expedition on 25th September, 1861. After the fine had been paid, OKP Nanang and his followers were given two days to move away from the Sadok stronghold to allow for an attack against Libau “Rentap”.

While OKP Nanang and his followers were moving their belongings and their women and children to a place of safety, some of the Skrang and Saribas Iban leaders asked the Brookes whether Libau “Rentap” could also be pardoned and asked to surrender un¬conditionally. The Tuan Besar and his brother said that the government could not grant Libau “Rentap” such a favour as he was guilty of killing Mr. Allan Lee at Skrang several years before. For that reason, Libau “Rentap” sworn never to see or make peace with any white ruler for as long as he lives.

Before OKP Nanang and Luyoh surrendered to the government, there had been a hot quarrel between them and Libau “Rentap”, who had refused to hand back to Aji’s widow, Dimah, the gun powder her husband had asked him to keep safely in his stronghold shortly before Aji died at Sungai Langit. It was partly due to this that Aji’s brothers no longer remained allied with Libau “Rentap” but surrendered themselves to the government without first consulting him.

Knowing that OKP Nanang and his followers had betrayed him, Libau “Rentap” ordered that their stockade be razed. While Libau “Rentap” men were doing this, the flames could be seen for many hours by people who lived far away from the mountain.

After OKP Nanang and his followers had moved away to a safe place, the Tuan Muda ordered about sixty of his people to carry up the mountain the big gun, Bujang Sadok, to crush Libau “Rentap” stronghold. As soon as the preparations had been completed, an exchange of fire began. After several shots, the stockade was completely destroyed and his gunner Rajau was killed. Rajau’s blood soaked the gunpowder and ammunition, so that Libau “Rentap” and his warriors had to flee quickly to the Skrang where they camped safely near Bukit Lanja.

Shortly after Libau “Rentap” and his warriors had fled from Sadok, one of his men named Manang Usay walked forward with sword in hand, “to look for the Rajah,” as he put it. Seeing him looking for the Tuan Muda with such a weapon, those who stood nearby warned the Tuan Muda to be careful, in case Manang Usay should attempt to strike him with the sword. As he approached the Tuan Muda, Manang Usay’s foot caught in the root of an engkajang tree, so he fell down. As he was lying on the ground, the Tuan Muda struck him with his knife, but missed. Then the Tuan Muda drew his sword (pedang saliri) and pierced Manang Usay through the stomach, killing him instantly.

After Libau “Rentap” stronghold had been destroyed the Tuan Muda said:

“I bade farewell to the remains of Rentap’s house, which was now reduced to embers, only a few of which were smoking; fire had soon consumed the seat of this little episode in Sarawak history, We spiked an iron gun with steel, which had belonged to Nanang and was marked with an anchor dated 1515 with some letters on it not legible; they said his father had captured this gun from the Dutch at Sambas many years ago while on a marauding excursion.”

Before the force actually left Sadok, the Tuan Besar told a gathering of chiefs from the lower Layar, Paku and Skrang that the government had overthrown Libau “Rentap” power for the good of the country.

“At the same time”, he said, “The government has halted its quarrel with OKP Nanang to give way to the rule of law and order.”

The Tuan Besar made it known to all the chiefs that OKP Nanang had no enemy unless the Rajah had an enemy, and that OKP Nanang must not go to war unless his services were required by the government. Finally the Tuan Besar encouraged all the people to concentrate more on agriculture than on fighting one another, “If all Ihe people farm conscientiously,” he said, “the people and the government of the country will be able to engage in peaceful trade.”

The Tuan Besar ruled that OKP Nanang was to return to Buloh Antu; Luyoh to Sungai Langit; Unting to Gerinjing, Padeh; Tiong and Landau and their warrior husbands to Stambak; Badong and her husband Belabut to his house at Seruai, and the warriors Angkau, Mara and Saban to Serian below the Betong fort.

Source: http://gnmawar.wordpress.com/jerita-lama/iban-migration-peturun-iban/early-iban-migration-part-3/

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