Penghulu Dalam Munan attacks Rumah Jimbau, Ulu Engkari

Penghulu Dalam Munan attacks Rumah Jimbau, Ulu Engkari.

In 1902 Penghulu Bantin of the Ulu Ai and the people under Penghulu Munau apai Laja and his son Kana of Engkari rebelled against the government. To disrupt the peace, Bantin and Kana and their fighters attacked people at several places, particularly their neighbours, the people of Lemanak.

Consequently, the Rajah commanded Munan, the Penghulu Dalam of Sibu, Penghulu Insol of the Padeh, Saribas, and Penghulu Banta of the Skrang to attack the rebels at Engkari. Banta’s and Insol’s forces went to war according to the date decided upon by the Penghulu Dalam.

In the course of the war, the forces from Saribas and Skrang were badly beaten by the enemy. Thirteen of their warriors were killed. But in spite of this defeat, Insol took a firm vow to fight the enemy till all his warriors had safely returned to their own ground.

With the lower Rajang and Kanowit Iban, numbering altogether about 900, Munan set out from Kanowit. He passed the headwaters of the Katibas and went on to the headwaters of the Engkari, where he found the traces of an encounter only a few days old which had taken place between the Skrang and Saribas forces and the enemy. From the number of dead found, it was evident that there had been severe hand-to-hand encounters. It was feared that the Skrang and the Saribas had lost twenty or more men.

Seeing this, Munan realised that the Skrang and Saribas under Banta and Insol must have gone ahead of him several days earlier. He was unable to join them due to the distance and because he was not certain of the route they had taken. In this way the war plan was complicated, and the Saribas and Skrang forces suffered because of it.

Munan ordered his force to stop not far from a big house under a headman named Jimbau. It was said that this house contained many Ulu Ai people who had come to reinforce Jimbau, when the Saribas and Skrang were known to be approaching. Here Munan called a council of war to select three of his most trusted warriors to spy on the house that coming night and a dozen others to guard the main force by watching for the enemy in case they came to attack them by surprise.

After these warriors had gone out on duty, Munan called three of his leading warriors, Ajah of Binatang, Ajah of Entaih and Ajah of Melangan. He suggested that if any of the three failed to kill an enemy, he should never again be called Ajah. Though this was spoken as a joke, Munan’s words strongly encouraged the three Ajahs in the coming assault.

At about midnight the spies came to the enemy’s house, where the people were celebrating the feast of enchaboh arong, in which the bards sang their chants of praise to Singalang Burong, Lang Betenong, Keling, Bunga Nuing, Laja and Bunga Jawa and other gods of war, who had given them an easy victory over the enemy.

While one of Munan’s spies sat quietly below the floor of the house, just where Bantin and other leaders were sitting, he heard a certain woman coming to speak to Kana. She told him that in her sleep early that night, she had a very bad dream. “In my dream,” she said, “I saw a great number of the enemy attacking us in this house.” She warned Kana and the others to prepare for fighting. Hearing this, Kana asked who this enemy could be, since the Saribas and Skrang forces had been defeated and the survivors had all gone back to their places. “I do not believe any other enemy can suddenly fall down from heaven to attack us,” said Kana. Hearing these words the leading spy took his companions to rash back to inform Munan about what they had heard and seen during their spying.

After Munan had been told that the enemy was celebrating an enchaboh arong festival in honour of the head trophies they had taken a few days earlier, he commanded the force to march and attack the house before dawn the next morning. On their arrival at the house the three Ajahs and seven others including Banyi apai Ibi of the Julau took the lead and fought the enemy along the gallery (ruai) of the longhouse. It being still early in the morning a considerable number of the enemy was drunk and so was easily killed by Munan’s fighters.

While these men entered the house, the rest of Munan’s fighters waited for the enemy to come out of the house down the ladders of the individual open platforms (tanju) and from the family rooms (bilek). When the fighting was at its height, Munau apai Laja and his son Kana, trying to escape, carried Munau’s daughter down the ladder from the tanju. Because of their pemenga charms, known as “Batu Lichin”, a Chinese and an adopted son of Munan, waiting for them below the ladder, was shocked and taken aback, which give the chance for Kana, his father and his sister to escape unhurt.

After the fighting was over, Munan ordered that the house be burnt along with three others in the same vicinity. After the fighting was ended it was found that 53 of the enemy had been killed including the stragglers and 5 captives taken by Munan. Only two of his men were missing.




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