Commissioner-General for South East Asia Malcolm MacDonald, Temenggong Jugah ak. Barieng, Penghulu Jinggut ak. Penghulu Atan and Penghulu Sibat.
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.