RENTAP THE IBAN WARRIOR, THE LEGEND WHO LIVES IN ALL OF US……
Many of us do have a spirit of Rentap. “No retreat no surrender”. In today world this spirit must keep high in ourselves in everyday jobs in order to achieved what is best for us. So here is a story of a Iban warrior named Rentap who once lives many years ago who dared to speaks out for his people and then rise above all on what is wrong and right…..in today world he is likes Mahatma Ghandi, no offence. Rajah Brooke himself knows him very well on what these Iban warrior capable of and since then the spirit of this unbelieveable journey of freedom lie within ourself and one day it will rise in us when the time comes……ITS LIVES IN ALL OF US.
Iban warrior named Rentap has called James Brooke the Sarawak Governor as a pirates who want to seize the land of the Borneo. Rentap, is been considered as many Sarawakian as ome of opposition spirit to throw away British colonial powers that led by James Brooke, while widening his rule to Borneo, in the 19th century.
Iban resistance lead by Rentap against colonial powers resulted James Brooke called Rentap as the influential figure in the areas now under the administration of Betong, as a pirate. But actually Rentap is a fighters who defend the state from British colonial rule, not the pirates as assumptions by the James Brooke. Local history experts, Dr. Pat Chang Foh, said Rentap real name is Libau Rentap and he is the commander of chief for Iban warriors in Skrang and Saribas. The title, which means Ensumbar Rentap in the Iban language is been given to Libau after he cut off their first enemy head in the war. Rentap said he hated Brooke because he see them as an outsider from the West who want to dominate malicious Sarawak and eliminate local as the way of their life then.
And because of Rentap attitude, Brooke make his moved to take over the state government using subterfuge by call them pirates and to eliminate the rampant piracy in the waters around Saribas and Skrang. These story of Rentap opposition is based on evidence from Rentap itself sixth generation descendant of the warrior, Subang Son Dunggau where he also wrote a book called ‘History Of Iban Settlements Around Kuching City Sarawak’. According the the story, Rentap is very angry after knowing the English plan and later called James Brooke as the pirates himself for tried to seize land and for imposing various forms of tax to Sarawak people. Rentap first battle with the English occurred on August 19, 1844 in Skrang involving thousands of boats using both parties. Rentap won the battles where he managed to stop the British and killed 29 English followers and injured 56 others. These fierced battle didin’t stop Brooke where another battle is been planned that will soon be remember in Sarawak history.
On July 24, 1849, Brooke returned and now he is bringing a greater force to attack Skrang and those in Saribas as Brooke personally thought them as a pirates. Three big ships where used named the Royalist, Ranee and Nemesis and 80 other warships to defeat the Rentap warriors together with his disciples Abong Apong and Linggir Mali Lebu. The colonialists fought Rentap warrior in the Delta Rentap Maru, Betong on the afternoon of July 31, 1849, the largest naval battle ever recorded in the Sarawak history.As many as 500 Rentap followers killed in these battle that last for five hours. Unfortunately for Brooke no Iban leader from Rentap contigent killed or captured, and many of them fled to the jungle and forced them to retreated far to the Saribas River.
Rentap and his followers went on to build a fortifications in Tabat at the foot of Bukit Sadok infront of River Lang. Brooke himself in the end of 1849 send Arthur Crookshank to built Fort James in Linga which is the intersection of Skrang River and River Lupar. The built of Fort James is not liked by the people because they are blocking the road to the bottom of Lupar River and South China Sea. By the way the Fort intended to prevent any Rentap cooperation with close allies Ali and Linggir at offshore.
In 1852, Brooke build another fort in the Linga to avoid Rentap from keeping disturbing his troops. This actions anger Rentap until he deciding to attack and defeated the British in Lingga. After this lost, Brooke then send a message to Rentap , asking him out at Fort James to hold peace talks , but Rentap refused. A year later, Brooke Stem was ambushed, three miles from Nanga Skrang. Rentap managed to sink the colonial boat and killed British officer, Alan Lee, who is responsible for strengthening Lingga. Rentap warriors then retreated before Brooke can arrange their position and this victory simply makes Rentap better known as the hero Dayaks in Sarawak.
To prevent others helping Rentap and making him stronger, a group of soldiers then sent by Brooke to various places to stop any moved made by the Sarawak people in supporting for Rentap. On August 1854, nearly 7,000 strong Brooke Army marched for two days to attack the fort Rentap in Sungai Lang. Brooke army using weapons fire while Rentap warriors used cannon. In the afternoon, women and children suddenly appear to leave through the back of the fortress hill and followed by injured Rentap and his warriors for a complete withdrawal from the city to Bukit Sadok.
Eventhough Rentap is injured, Brooke did not continue the attack on the Bukit Sadok, these allowed Rentap to strengthen its position at the summit of Bukit Sadok where he build a fortifications or Kuta Rentap and steep slopes make it almost impossible fort any enemy approached. Rentap then called himself a ruler with the title of Rajah Ulu or King Ul and make Bukit Sadok as a center to all local residents who opposed British rule.
As Rentap position becomes more stronger, Brooke then launch expeditions to destroy Rentap authority. Three expeditions launched beginning June 7, 1857 to destroy Rentap fortifications, but failed to kill him. After current string attack in the last expedition Brooke managed to captured and burned Kuta Rentap on October 28, 1861. As for Rentap and his followers, he retreated to the Mount Lanjak, Skrang up to Entabai, Kanowit and Julau. He then dies from old sickness on 1870 after numerous actions by Brooke failed to captured and killed him…………..