Iban unrest in the Katibas Rivers
From Nanga Lubang Raya near the source of the Batang Ai, Naga and his brothers Sumping, Maoh, Api and Murap migrated to the Kanyau in Indonesian Borneo. Before they left the country they invited Temenggong Simpi Pala of Rantau Panjai to come with them. But the Temenggong refused as he was reluctant to leave behind his guardian spirit who lived at Bukit Kaong.
On their arrival in the Kanyau, Naga and his followers lived at Emperan Kawat and subsequently at Kerangan Labu. Here they were raided by lower Batang Ai Iban from Kumpang. Due to this trouble Naga led his followers to the headwaters of the Katibas on the Sarawak side of the border. In this new country they first settled at Jekelan and then later moved to Emperan where they were attacked by joint forces of Kantu’ and Embaloh Dayaks. These enemies came from the Kanyau and Ketunggau tributaries of the Kapuas River. To escape this danger they moved to Batu Gong, and then settled at Tekalit. While Naga was still living in the Katibas he transferred his chieftainship to his sons Unggat and Gerinang.
In 1868 when Mr. J.B. Cruickshank was serving as Resident in the Rejang, Unggat and Gerinang came to see him at Nanga Ngemah. When the Resident asked them of the general affairs of the Katibas, Unggat replied that all was tranquil with the exception of a senior warrior chief named Balang who had returned victoriously from the warpath against a tribe called the Lusum. Unggat told Mr. Craickshank that Balang and Ringgau had come to him and his brother Gerinang twice to invite them to join them to murder the Resident. He told Mr. Craickshank that Balang was to hold a feast next day in honour of his recent victory over the Lusum. Mr. Craickshank, upset by the news, told Unggat and Gerinang that he personally would attend Balang’s festival next day.
Early next day Mr. Cruickshank went to Balang’s longhouse. When he reached the longhouse landing place, he called for Balang to come down to fetch him up to the house. Balang was surprised by the arrival of the Resident whom he had not invited to the feast, but he reluctantly agreed to fetch him to his house. When Balang greeted him at his boat, Mr. Cruickshank ordered that he should be arrested, chained and brought down immediately to Sibu for detention. Later in the month it was said that Balang had been executed at Pulau Selalau near Sibu because of his reported plot to murder the Resident.
In retaliation Balang’s son-in-law, his uncle Enjop and the latter’s son publicly declared that they would fight against the rule of the Rajah of Sarawak in the Katibas River. The reason they gave was Balang’s execution without trial, by a court of justice.
Before the revolt began, the relatives of Balang already knew that Balang’s execution was due to Unggat’s jealously and the false story he had told the Resident about Balang’s intention to murder him. So Enjop and his relatives went to Unggat’s house, to force him and Gerinang to join their rebellion against the Rajah. Hearing this, Unggat said that the reason why Balang was executed was because he had raided the Lusum in the upper Rajang. They replied to Unggat that Balang would not have been sentenced to death for this, for the Lusum were enemies of the Katibas, and had not submitted to Brooke rule. Besides this, they said that the government should not sentence Balang to death without a trial.
Gerinang asked Enjop and his relatives to give him and Unggat time to discuss among themselves whether they agreed to join them in rebelling against the govern¬ment. He said that to fight against the government was dangerous and required very careful consideration. Enjop and Balang’s son-in-law said that they already had asked the people of Kanowit and Julau to support their rebellion.
Later Unggat and Gerinang told Enjop and his relatives that they could not reinforce them since, as they put it, they could not seek victory against the warleaders of the Saribas and Skrang Iban who were their relatives, and were now siding with the government.
Due to the joining of Unggat and Gerinang with Enjop and Balang’s relatives in their enmity against the Rajah, fighting suddenly broke out in the Katibas in 1868.
While Naga and his people lived at Batu Gong they were twice attacked by the Rajah’s force during the first and second Katibas expeditions against Enjop, the brother of Balang, in 1869 and 1870. In his wrath against the government for executing Balang unjustly, Lintong ‘Moahari” of Kanowit attacked the Sibu fort in 1870, the year of the second and third expeditions launched by the Brooke government against the Katibas Iban.
During the first Katibas expedition, Manggi’s bong tekam boat defeated the Rajah’s boat; thereby causing the latter’s troops to retreat unconditionally. But during the second expedition this same boat of Manggi’s was driven back and Manggi and many of his warriors were killed.
Enjop and his followers were reinforced by Iban from Julau, Kanowit and Kanyau in Indonesian Borneo. This trouble continued until 1871 and involved three successive punitive expeditions.
After Manggi’s death, Naga ordered a warrior of his, named Ridun to lead a migra¬tion into the Baleh River. Ridun and his followers settled temporarily at the mouth of the Selidong stream near the mouth of the Baleh. There they met with a lot of trouble. They were attacked by the Logats and Ukit tribes. To avoid this Ridun moved to Resa in the Yong stream, where he died of old age. Around the same time Naga died in the Katibas.
Due to the revolt of the Katibas Iban, the upper Batang Ai Iban under chief Ngumbang, while reinforcing their relatives, were attacked by the Rajah in 1868. These troubles were the first signs of what became continuing unrest in the headwaters of the Batang Ai and the Batang Rajang which was to last until 1919.
Labar succeeded Ridun as leader in the Yong. From Yong, Labar led a migration to the Baleh and lived at the mouth of Kemali stream just above Lepong Kain, While Labar and his people were settled there, they were frequently attacked by the Lugats, who lived along the Gaat tributary. Labar died at the Nanga Kemali settlement, and the Baleh Iban no longer had an influential leader, as Unggat and Gerinang lived far away in the Katibas. Due to this, the Baleh Iban sent for Mujah “Buah Raya” of the Julau and Entabai to lead them against the Lugats at Nanga Gaat. Mujah “Buah Raya”, with two hundred warriors went to attack over one thousand of the enemy. The latter defended themselves bravely, but their wooden shields were broken by the stones thrown by Mujah’s warriors, and they were defeated. After their defeat the Lugat fled to the upper Baleh and lived at the Nanga Laii, Nanga Sengkala and Nanga Singut settlements. From these longhouses they fled once more, escaping further Iban raids, to the Mahakam River in Indonesian Borneo. In this new country they are said to have settled at a place called Bila Baii.
Many years later, after the Iban had defeated the Lugats at Nanga Gaat, a Lugat chief named Oyong Ojat, came to visit an Iban longhouse at Nanga Sembawang. In his conversation with this host, he said that when he was a boy he had been one of the people defeated by the Iban under Mujah “Buah Raya” at Nanga Gaat. He could remember his family’s house before it was attacked by Mujah’s men.
In the Katibas, after Unggat and Gerinang had died, they were succeeded as chiefs by their sons Keling and Mata Hari, who led a great number of Iban to the Sut, Gaat and Mujong tributaries of the Baleh. The people of these Rivers still regard the descendants of Naga and Sumping as being of their original line of chiefs, for their ancestors led the migrations from the Batang Ai to the Kanyau, Katibas and finally to the Baleh River where these Iban live today. (Naga & Sumping were the descendent of Seremat Chief named Bau and Salengka mentioned earlier in EIM Part 2 who was also directly related to Saribas, Batang Ai, Dau & Balau Iban)
From Pulau Ensulit in Indonesia, Jubang moved up the Piang River and settled temporarily at Emperan Tebelian. From this settlement, he and his people migrated into the Katibas in Sarawak territory via Sungai Ayat in order to settle at the Bangkit stream. From the Bangkit, Jubang and his people moved down the main Katibas River to the Rajang and then up that river to settle in the Sut, a tributary of the Baleh. While he was living in the Sut, Jubang joined Gerinang’s war against the Pieng Dayaks in the Mahakam River in Indonesian territory, and there he was killed. At the time of his father’s death, Koh lived at Nanga Dia where he was appointed Penghulu by the Raj all because he had obeyed the government wishes in not taking revenge upon the Julau Iban who had killed his cousin named Lanau during the fighting at Bukit Balong.
After he had attacked the Piengs, Gerinang led another war against the Lusum Dayaks at Keluan and defeated them. As a result of this the Lusum Dayak fled to settle in the Baram. In their place at Keluan, the Badang Dayak have lived there to the present day. Gerinang was imprisoned by the Rajah for this attack on the Lusum, but later he was appointed Penghulu, succeeding his deceased grandfather Penghulu Keling.
In Jubang’s company from the Katibas there was a Nanga Delok man named Melintang. When he arrived in the Baleh he was permitted by the chiefs of that river to live with his followers in the Merirai tributary. He was appointed the first Penghulu of that river in 1942 but died shortly after his appointment. After his death he was succeeded by his grandson the late Tun Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Temenggong Jugah, the former Federal Minister for Sarawak Affairs after Sarawak was given in¬dependence within the Malaysian Federation in 1963.
Jubang, the father of Temenggong Koh, left Lubang Baya in the Batang Ai to migrate to the Kanyau River where he lived at Pulau Ensulit. It was at this settlement that he married Garong, the daughter of chief Ba, and their child was Temenggong Koh, the well known Iban chieftain of modern Sarawak, who died in 1955.