Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Op Ngerapuh - Bringing the Remains of Iban Trackers and Sarawak Rangers Home (to Sarawak).

Op Ngerapuh - Bringing the Remains of Iban Trackers and Sarawak Rangers Home (Sarawak)

On 18 July 2009 I was told by my committee members in Kuching that the Deputy Chief Minister, Tan Sri Alfred Jabu ak. Numpang wished to see me and the committee members. Understandably, it was to brief him on Op Ngerapuh and what we have planned for and done, before he begins work and see the Chief Minister after a long medical leave.

The following members accompanied me: the Chief Editor M Rajah, Editor Aden Negrace and Churchill of the Borneo Post daily, Major Monday Juhid, Director of Jabatan Hal Ehwal Veteran ATM Sarawak Branch, Major (Rtd) Micheal Riman PGB and Roland Duncan Klabu. The nation's most celebrated hero WO 2 (Rtd) Kanang ak. Langkau SP PGB was in attendance.

YB Tan Sri was most happy with the plan and assured us of the State Government's solid backing and will undertake to do what is required in order to push for the next move.

Briefing YB Tan Sri Alfred Jabu on what we have done so far and at the same time showing him some old photographs.
Looking at the list of the fallen Iban Trackers and Sarawak Rangers who were killed and buried in Malaya during the First Malayan Emergency 1948 - 1960
My Committee members with YB Tan Sri Alfred Jabu at his residence. The Borneo Post of July 21, 2009 carried my meeting with YB Tan Sri Alfred Jabu.
Borneo Post July 21, 2009: I (in green batik) with the Deputy Chief Minister of Sarawak, Tan Sri Dr Alfred Jabu ak. Numpang and some members of my committee.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Tracker Penghulu Jinggut ak Penghulu Atan

Tracker Penghulu Jinggut ak. Penghulu Atan - Leading the Way. He was hand-picked by Britain's Commissioner-General for South East Asia, Malcom MacDonald, whom he called a friend to lead the first batch of Iban Trackers sent to Malaya six weeks after the Emergency was declared on August 8, 1948. He was only 17 years old. MacDonald knew, being a Penghulu and a leader of his community, he had the influence to attract the other able-bodied men to join him as Trackers. Initially, according to Jinggut, it was difficult to get the young men to join. Possibily the idea of leaving their paddy fields, pepper gardens and family behind were the deriding factors. He was asked by Malcolm MacDonald to bring 300 men with him but he brought only 48 who were mostly elderly men. In his subsequent recruitment, he was more successful. He brought in about 200 young men and by this time too, other Ibans from the Second Division of Sarawak, including the only receipient of the highest bravery award of the Emergency, the George Cross (civilian equivalent of a Victoria Cross) also volunteered his service in Malaya. In fact, by the time the Iban Trackers was conferred a military status and reformed into the Sarawak Rangers in 1953, more than 1000 trackers had rendered their services to the Malayan Emergency. Of these, 20 were killed in actions and 25 wounded. The number of gallantry awards and certificates they had won, spoke of their courage and prowess in the battle fields. Fate had forced Jinggut to be a man much earlier than others. In 1945, when he was just 14 years old, his brother, also a Penghulu, was killed by the Japanese when he resisted and fought them. Jinggut found himself became a Penghulu at this tender age. He was paid a handsome allowance of $15 a month. Two years later in 1948, he answered friend Malcolm MacDonald's call to go to Malaya to become a tracker, which gave a better salary of $120 a month and a Patrol Allowance of $8 a day. According to Jinggut, contact with the bandits were very frequent - almost everytime they went for patrol. He was caught in an ambush in Kampar, Perak once and was lucky to escape the hails of bullets. He jumped into a vehicle that was running away from the ambush only to ram into another military vehicle that suddenly appeared from a road junction. For his services, Jinggut was awarded a number of awards which included a QMC and OBE. On his return to his long house he became a Temenggong and went on to serve his community when he was elected to become a Member of Parliament of Sarawak for two terms. He was awarded a Dato' by the State.
Commissioner-General for South East Asia Malcolm MacDonald, Temenggong Jugah ak. Barieng, Penghulu Jinggut ak. Penghulu Atan and Penghulu Sibat.
Temenggong Jinggut as he is today Awards and medals he had earned
Update March 2011.
Dato Seri Jinggut passed away early in the year 2011.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Bringing the Remains of the Iban Warriors Home

Bringing the Remains of the Iban Warriors Home - A Step Closer. On 22 June 2009, I flew down to Kuching with the sole aim of making some research on the Iban Trackers and Sarawak Rangers in the archive of the Sarawak Museum. As it turned out, I was able to go to the archive only for two days. I was scheduled to meet two of the earliest Trackers on 23 June 2009 - Maja ak Barik and Temenggong Jinggot ak Penghulu Atan. Maja, unfortunately couldn't make it. Jinggot was staying with his son in Kuching and getting to meet him was not much of a problem. We talked most part of the morning and after lunch I brought him down to a local media, The Borneo Post where they interviewed him again to piece up a story for publication.
Having conversations with Temenggong Jinggot in the Veterans office
at Jalan Satok.
Having lunch in a restaurant not far from the Veterans office I took the opportunity to form the Main Committee to handle the whole project and a sub-committee to look into the fund raising aspect.
We had a very fruitful discussion with YB Dato Seri William Mawan.
At the end of the discussions, I presented him with a copy of my book, My Adventure.
A day later, 24 June 2009, this story appeared in The Borneo Post
And this appeared two days later.
On the whole, I felt relieved. I think we are moving in the right direction. Once the Veterans Department has received the letter from the State Government of Sarawak requesting for their assistance, only then can I see the machinery moving.
Meantime, the Fund Raising Campaign sub-committee is going ahead with the plan to launch the campaign on 31 July 2009, in conjunction with the Warriors Day in a hotel in Kuching. We hope to start the fund raising campaign with a bang. The target: RM500,000.00.