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Sarawak’s forgotten source of entertainment, Band Day

The current generation should be grateful that entertainment is so easily available nowadays. Imagine living in Sarawak in the late 19th century with no smartphone, internet or TV… how did people entertain themselves?

Like most parts of the world in those days, people turned to music.

For the-then Kingdom of Sarawak, having a ruler who was real fan of music did play an influence on Sarawakians’ exposure to music as entertainment.

According to historian W.J. Chater, the second White Rajah Charles Brooke was passionately fond of music.

Rumour had it that was probably the reason he married Ranee Margaret, who, under her maiden name of Lady de Windt was for some time during the 1860s regarded as the finest amateur pianist in France.

‘The Band’ in the olden days

If you hit a club or bar in Kuching, Miri or Bintulu, there’s a chance that the band playing comes from the Philippines.

Apparently, Sarawak has been inviting Filipino bands to play music here since the 19th century.

“There had always been a band of sorts in Kuching, but the Rajah decided that he wanted somethinng better; so in early 1888 he made a special visit to Manila to engage a Filipino band and although he had only little real knowledge of music insisted on auditioning and selecting the bandsmen himself,” Chater wrote.

Charles was shocked at first when the bandmaster whom he had engaged was enticed away for higher pay.

However, everything went well when the band duly arrived in Kuching in May that year, accompanied by a new bandmaster named Polycarpo.

Charles was hands on with his band. He even insisted that all programs were carefully selected. If the music failed to be up to standard, the bandmaster would receive a stern rebuke at the end of the performance.

The birth of Padang Merdeka

The first thing Charles did after employing his band was to find a location for the band to play at. He wanted it to be somewhere in town so that the public could watch the band’s performance.

So in 1889, the Rajah transformed what was once a swamp into what became known as the Esplanade (later Central Padang and now the Padang Merdeka).

Back then, the site was an ornamental garden with a bandstand in the centre.

The first public performance given there was a great event for Kuchingites. To mark the special occasion, the bandmaster composed a special tune called “The Sarawak Waltz”.

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The first band that came to play in Sarawak was from the Philippines. Credits: Pixabay.
Was Sarawak’s band days a hit or a miss?

While the Rajah’s support for music and artists was undeniable, Chater shared that the opening of the Esplanade brought band days which were unanimously recorded as the most unpopular social functions ever introduced by the Rajah.

When he was in his 70s (with one deaf ear and only little hearing in the other), he still insisted that band day should be held twice a week. Additionally, he ordered all his European officers to attend.

“One these occasions, he used to like to surround himself with the prettiest ladies of all communities and once the band had started nobody even dared to whisper without receiving his icy stare,” Chater wrote.

The Rajah even did something that would be considered against our present day lawbour laws. Since in those days, there was no such thing as annual increment in salaries, the Europeans officers only received their increment when the Rajah remembered them. Thus, it became a matter of “no band, no rise in salary.”

Ranee Sylvia’s thought of Sarawak band day

When Ranee Sylvia Brooke was still the Ranee Muda, she disliked band days so much that she wrote about in her book The Three White Rajahs.

“There was an extremely undesirable ceremony called ‘Band Day’, when twice a week everyone would dress up in their best clothes and congregate round the Rajah upon a stretch of grass where the band would play classical music, or would respectfully listen to the discordant sounds issuing from the Filipino band, which fortunately for him (the Rajah) was unable to hear. ‘Ah’, he would say, tapping his stick upon the ground, ‘Mozart… very lovely’, although the actual melody they had been playing at the moment was Chopin. None of us dared contradict him,” Sylvia wrote.

Nonetheless, the Ranee still found delight from watching some of the officers, who having put in an appearance and been seen by the Rajah, would then try to slip away for a drink at the Sarawak Club.

Only a few managed to escape as reportedly the Rajah’s eagle eye would usually draw them back.

Sylvia also shared that at the end when the Sarawak Anthem was being played and everyone stood to attention, a sigh of relief would ripple through the crowd.

The end of Sarawak Band Day

Eventually, Charles himself could not stand the band. On May 22, 1910, he wrote a letter to the Commandant of Sarawak Rangers to whom the band was attached to.

He wrote, “The band was somewhat worse last evening and the programme very badly chosen. I can’t stand this and longer and I now direct you to inform the Bandmaster Julian de Vera, that he is to do no more duty and he will retire on pension $6 per month as from today. Put the other man (Pedro Salosa) in his place, and I will see to the band when I return. It is much better to have none at all than a bad one. Be good enough to carry out these orders to the letter.”

Hence that was how de Vera’s 21 years of service as bandmaster abruptly came to an end. After that Pedro Salosa replaced him as bandmaster and he continued to serve until 1932. It was when the band was disbanded along with Sarawak Rangers.

The legend of Kuala Sibuti’s buried treasure you probably never heard of

Buried treasure always comes with a story or legend. Sometimes, it even comes with a curse.

Here is a legend of buried treasure in Kuala Sibuti, Sarawak that was recorded by Sarawak Gazette writer R. Nyandoh:

Long time ago, a vessel was wrecked at Tanjung Payung somewhere near Kuala Suai, south of Niah river.

The vessel carried many passengers as well as their valuables.

After the wreck, the survivors managed to float off on a small box. This boat eventually made its way to Kuala Sibuti.

There the people dug a large hole and hid their belongings. To mark the site, they plant a tree called Kaya Ra which was not found in any part of Sarawak.

Many years later, the Kedayans came and settled down in Kuala Sibuti. They found the belongings that were previously buried there. What were left were broken pots and jars which the Kedayan called “Gusi”.

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The curse of Kuala Sibuti’s buried treasure

One day, a woman named Hanipah was collecting shrimp at Kuala Sibuti. She accidentally caught a golden cup in her net.

Happy with her potential for riches, she decided to sell the golden cup.

With her newfound wealth, Hanipah went on a pilgrimage to Mecca. Many years later, despite having many children, only a few them survived.

She blamed the deaths of her family members on herself for taking and selling the golden cup.

After Hanipah, there was another person who accidentally found one of the buried “gusi”.

Allegedly, a Chinese man named Eng Soon found a jar while planting coconut trees. He tried to find more treasure by digging around in more places, but he was not successful with his attempt.

What happened to Eng Soon and the jar that he found remained a mystery to this day.

In the following years, many have tried looking for the buried treasure in Kuala Sibuti.

It is said, however, that whenever they started digging, wind, rain and storm will start to pour in. This has left them too frightened to carry on digging. Eventually, people stopped trying to look for the buried treasure of Kuala Sibuti.

Gawai Betembang, when slaves were freed through adoption

Every ethnic group in Sarawak has a forgotten ritual or ceremony that is no longer practised due to several reasons. The main reason is usually because that ritual or ceremony no longer applies, especially if it is related to headhunting or slavery.

Here is an example of a ceremony that is no longer practised by today’s Iban communities in Sarawak. Iban ethnologist Benedict Sandin shared his research on Gawai betembang which was published in The Sarawak Gazette (Aug 31, 1964).

In Anthony Richards’ Iban-English dictionary, the word “tembang” means a token or pledge given at the formal manumission (which means the formal freeing) of slaves.

According to Benedict, “betembang” is a word used by the Iban to refer to the adoption of a slave or a lower class person by somebody from the upper class at a special feast held for that purpose.

“More than a century ago, the Ibans of Saribas and Skrang in the second division of Sarawak used to engage in piracy. Through these piratical pursuits they captured many slaves as victims of their raids,” Benedict stated.

“The other Ibans who lived further inland, especially in the Batang Lupar areas, did not join them in piracy in the Batang Lupar areas, but started to fight amongst themselves over all kinds of disputes, sometimes settled by a slave’s death.”

Iban slavery in the olden days

According to the Iban tradition, if a man incurred a debt which he could not pay when asked to do so, he also would be taken as a slave by his creditor.

If a trapper set a trap for wild animals (jerungkang) and it killed a person, the trapper would be required to pay compensation (pati nyawa) for the life lost.

Let’s say that he was unable to pay this fine, he then would have to become a slave to the deceased’s family. This rule also applied in any cases of accidental death.

If an unmarried woman became pregnant and did not name the father of her child by the fourth month and was unable to pay the required fine, she would be held responsible for anyone in the village who fell sick and died.

Generally, the Iban people did not treat their slaves (or “ulun”) cruelly. However, if necessary, the owner had the right to kill his slave if there was no fresh human heads for him to use at a ceremony to open the mourning period of a member of his family.

In weddings, if the son or daughter of a slave owner should marry, the father might present the child of one of his slaves for their own use.

Furthermore, many slaves were sold by the Ibans to Malay traders as the purchase price for old jars which they prized highly.

Benedict also pointed out, “Should a slave marry another slave in his or her master’s house, the offspring would automatically become the property of the master of the house but the slaves would have no claim on the master’s property.”

Slavery during the reign of Charles Brooke

When Sarawak came under the second White Rajah of Sarawak Charles Brooke, a proclamation was made to abolish slavery in the kingdom in 1886.

Following this decree, many slaves were freed by paying their masters a sum of $36 or its equivalent in the form of jars.

Surprisingly, not all of these slaves wished to be freed. Those who were well treated by their masters continued to live with them for the rest of their lives.

In those days, any slave owner who wished to adopt his slave as his own child was allowed to do so by holding a special ceremony called Gawai Betembang or adat betembang.

For this ceremony, the slave had to satisfy certain conditions such as brew a jar of tuak, produce a small pig (whose liver would be examined to judge its omens regarding the prosperity of the child’s future), produce a spear, buy eight yards of white calico and two yards of red calico with which to make a flag.

The feast of Gawai Betembang

Gawai Betembang was usually held during the night or after the end of other festivities. At this time, many influential chiefs and warriors in the area were invited as witnesses.

Benedict stated, “At the break of day, after the night feasting, a procession took place. In this, an influential chief carried the red flag. He was followed by another who carried the spear. Behind them walked the other chiefs, or their wives if the slave was a girl. Behind came others, members and relatives of the slave master’s family. The hands of those taking part in the procession must hold the length of white calico, called lalau.”

The procession then encircled the ruai (veranda) of the longhouse three times. On the third round, at each veranda, a speaker would ask them, “Chiefs and elders, you have walked three times encircling us. Now, may we be told the reason why you are carrying a flag and a spear and are followed by men and women?”

No longer a slave but a child
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After Gawai Betembang was held, a slave was no longer a slave but a “child”. Credits: Pixabay

To this, the chief carrying the spear answered something like this, “Yes, it is right for you all to ask me this question. We have a special reason for holding this procession. This is to mark the day for (so and so) to adopt (so and so) who is former slave and is now to become his own child. This ceremony therefore, is a mark of approval that this child now becomes the rightful heir to his new parents’ property. His ranks is now in line with that of his former master and he is no longer a slave.”

The chief then warned the attendees, “In future, if anyone of us should still call him a slave or a person of low birth, with this spear he shall raid our houses and loot our property. Please remember this, as this is the reason why this feast is being held.”

Shortly after the procession, the newly adopted child would lead the young men to offer tuak to all the attendees in honour of the adoption ceremony.

Then one of the chiefs would kill the young pig, whose liver was carefully examined to find the indications regarding future well-being of the adopted child.

When the ceremony came to an end, the spear was placed in the hands of the newly adopted child and the guests returned to their respective longhouses.

According to Benedict, Gawai Betembung must not be confused with the ordinary Gawai Ngiru ceremony.

“Gawai Ngiru is a ceremony for a man of the same rank to adopt the child of another, and should be witnessed by at least three longhouse headmen,” he added.

The story of Apai Saloi and how he lost his sago flour

Here is a story of Iban comedic folklore hero Apai Saloi, recorded by historian Benedict Sandin which was published in The Sarawak Gazette (Dec 31, 1965):

Long time ago, in Gelong country where Apai Saloi lived, there was a great famine.

So Apai Saloi took his sons, Saloi and Ensali, to cut down a sago tree somewhere downriver from their house.

After they extracted the sago and made it into flour, the father and sons put them in bags and went home in their boat.

While cruising past their paddy fields, Apai Saloi saw something golden yellow glittering in the sun.

Immediately, he thought they were ripe paddy grains. His sons, however, did not believe that they were paddy grains but the flowers of a type of grass called ensawa.

Apai Saloi argued with his sons for awhile over the ‘paddy grains’. After some time, his sons gave up arguing with him.

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Apai Saloi thought he ensewa grass was paddy grains. Credits: Pixabay

Apai Saloi threw away his sago flour

Instead of bringing home the sago flour, he threw it into the river. He said that it was useless to bring it home since within the next few days they would reap their new harvest.

Before he went on with his journey home, Apai Saloi made a mark at the side of the boat with his knife in order to remember the exact place where the sago flour had been thrown into the river.

Then, he asked his sons to paddle hard so that he could reach home quickly.

When they reached home, his wife Indai Saloi asked where the sago flour was.

Apai Saloi told her with all honesty that he had thrown it into the river. Indai Saloi was furious with him, calling Apai Saloi a fool for letting his family starve.

But Apai Saloi confidently told her not to worry as their paddy had already ripened.

His wife was smart enough to know that it was impossible for that to happen at this time of the year.

Meanwhile, her sons Saloi and Ensali came forward to tell their mother about what happened and how they argued with their father.

Again, Indai Saloi scolded her husband for his foolishness.

Looking for the sago flour

Tired of his wife’s scolding, Apai Saloi took his sons to look for the bags of sago flour. He told his wife that it was easy to find it since he had marked the place where he had thrown it away.

Immediately after they left their wharf, Apai Saloi asked his sons to dive into the water.

Obediently, they followed their father’s instruction. But no matter how many times they dove into the river, they could not find the bags of sago flour.

Apai Saloi insisted that that was the location of the sago flour since he already made the mark at the side of his boat.

His sons continued to dive until they both could no longer continue.

Seeing her husband returning without the sago flour, Indai Saloi became furious again. Apai Saloi could not do anything else but retire to his mosquito net.

How New Year’s Day was celebrated in 1875 Sarawak

In many countries, New Year’s Day celebrations usually start as early as the night before with food and drinks and, of course, a fireworks display.

Then the first day of the year proceeds with all kinds of activities.

From going to picnic with families and friends, to last minute shopping for school supplies, New Year’s Day is always a busy celebration.

Did you know that Sarawakians have been celebrating New Year’s Day since more than 145 years ago?

Let us look back at how 1875 Sarawak celebrated the brand new year.

The year 1875 was welcomed with the booming of a gun from the fort at the stroke of midnight.

Then the song ‘Auld Lang Syne’ was sung to celebrate the brand new year.

While the band paraded into Kuching town, all the European officers came out of their respective houses to wish each other ‘Happy New Year’.

The celebration didn’t just circle around the expatriates only.

At the mosque, the Muslims welcomed the year 1875 according to their faith.

The minute the clock struck twelve, they started to ‘berzikir’ till nearly daylight.

On New Year’s morning, about 60 people sat down for breakfast at The Rajah’s Arm Hotel.

Owned by Low Kheng Whatt in partnership with a European named Montgomery, the hotel was first opened on Dec 1, 1872.

However, it went into liquidation in 1875. Then, the second White Rajah Charles Brooke took over and reopened it on Jan 1, 1876 as the Sarawak Club.

The breakfast was attended mainly by Sarawak government officers as well as Borneo Company staff and Chinese businessmen. Out of these 60 plus people, only two were women.

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A lot has changed on how we celebrate New Year’s Day.

New Year’s Day Boat Race

At noon, hundreds of people started to gather along the Sarawak riverbank to witness a boat race.

Overall, there were seven boats who entered the race on New Year’s Day and they had pretty interesting names.

They were Api Naraka (owned by Mr W.M. Crocker), Ayer Penawar (Mr E.J. Smith), Bujang Kilat (Mr J. Hardie), Bujang Pukat (Mr J.M Lewis), Bujang Tudong (Mr Kassim), Sakalip Mata (Confederates) and Ular Sawa (Mr Kongkong).

The New Year’s Day in 1875 Sarawak ended with a dinner at the hotel which was attended mostly by Sarawak government officers.

Clearly, there were many differences of celebrating the brand new year compared to now; we no longer have gunshots from the fort nor a band marching through Kuching town after midnight.

Nonetheless, it would be fun to revive the boat race at Sarawak river to celebrate the new year. It would be an activity that brings everyone together.

A Sarawakian legend of durian you probably never heard of

A Sarawak Gazette writer, Lee Kok Yin published an article about a durian legend that he heard when he was teaching in rural Sarawak.

Here is a legend from local Sarawakians about the King of Fruits – the durian – you probably never heard of:

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King of Fruits, Durian! Credits: Pixabay.

Once upon a time, there was a poor family of eight who earned their living through farming.

The sad part was the father, who was supposed to be the head of the family, was a lazy man.

So all the work and responsibilities fell to the mother.

One day, the mother fell sick and was unable to work on the farm. Even so, the father still refused to work and continued with his lazy ways.

Slowly, the family’s food storage started getting low and their farm slowly turned into a jungle.

As she lay on her sickbed, the mother prayed to God to save her young children from starvation.

Thinking there was no hope for her to get better and being sick was a burden for her children, the mother decided to kill herself.

She then jumped into a deep pool and drowned to death.

A few nights after her death, the children dreamed that the mother told them to go to her tomb where they would find food.

When they woke up, they realised all of them had the same dream. Believing the words of their mother, they all went to her tomb.

There, they saw a tall tree bearing hundreds of thorny fruits. When they tasted the flesh of the fruit, they found it to be sweet and delicious.

Thus, this was how durian came about.

Another meaning of liu lian or durian

The Chinese word for durian, “liu lian” also means to ‘stop and stay’. According to Lee, in the olden days, before Chinese merchants sailed to the islands of the South Seas, their wives or parents always warned them not to eat any durian.

They believed that those who once tasted its flavour, would forever stay in that foreign country.

The first dragon boats to join Sarawak Regatta

While the Sarawak Regatta was started a long time ago during Brooke reign, the dragon boats only made their debut on the Sarawak river in 1952.

Originating from the Pearl River Delta region of China’s southern Guangdong province, the dragon boat dates back 2,000 years.

Every dragon boat has a drummer who leads the paddlers with their rhythmic drum beats.

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Dragon boat

According To Kao Lun-wei, there were two dragon boats that rode the waves of the Sarawak river during the 1952 Kuching regatta; one was green while the other one was red.

They provided a colourful spectacle for the crowd and served to introduce the local Chinese into water sports.

“Properly used, the dragon boat races are run on the fifth day of the fifth moon in the Chinese lunar calendar, corresponding this year to the 28th May; but it was agreed by the promoters that it would be an excellent thing to join in with the rest of the paddlers,” Kao stated.

Explaining about the legend behind dragon boats, Kao wrote, “The great beasts of China, heraldic, mythical and potent are tigers, dragons, kilins and lions. Dragons are the incarnation of the spirit of the waters, of the clouds, seas and rivers. It is the emblem of the power of the emperor (having five claws in place of the usual four). The tiger is the king of beasts (having the character wang meaning king on his forehead) and presumably being a land animal is not a good term with the dragon.

“As the dragon is the king of the waters, it is not surprising that he should be taken for the shape of a ritual boat”.

The dragon boats at the then Kuching Regatta

According to Kao, time was kept by the beating of a drum and gong in each boat. The drums for the Kuching Regatta in 1952 were brought especially from Singapore.

As for the gongs, Kao said they were unable to buy the correct type of gong in time, and hoped to get some from Hong Kong later.

The dragon boats were launched at Pengkalan Batu with an eye-dotting ceremony just like how it has been done in these recent years.

Instead of the chief minister like today, the ceremony was carried out by a Chinese priest.

Kao pointed out the launching ceremony was not done like in the olden days. “One reasons for not performing the ceremony was that it would have cost the Dragon Boat Society about $400 in sacrificial pig, incense, crackers and priest’s fees.”

Present-day dragon boat races

However, it was not mentioned if the two dragon boats had won any race during the Kuching Regatta in 1952.

Fast forward to the 21st century, the dragon boat race in Kuching has gone a lot bigger with participants coming from all over the world.

For 2019, there were 14 countries participating in The Sarawak International Dragon Boat Regatta including United Arab Emirates and United States of America.

Looking back at a ‘pusau anak’ ceremony at Long San in 1962

From April 29-30, 1962, a huge pusau anak celebration and the opening of a new longhouse were held at Long San.

It was a big occasion with many from throughout the Baram area being invited. The VIPs in the past included Marudi District Officer Malcolm McSporran, Kuching Municipal former president William Tan and Chinese Kapitan Ch’ng Teng Seng.

“’Pusau’ really means to name a child or children. This is the old custom, which nowadays merely means to name a child,” Stewart Ngau Ding wrote in his Sarawak Gazette article published on June 30, 1962.

“There is no time fixed between one pusau anak and another. It is celebrated when a house has a lot of children, after a good harvest, etc. The children to be pusau vary in ages from one month to 10 years.”

Furthermore, it was expensive to pusau one or two children. Most people waited until they had a lot of children so that every door of a longhouse may pusau their children at the same time.

This pusau anak celebration in 1962 at Long San was interwoven with Christianity. Hence, it was not carried out in its purely traditional form.

How Long San’s pusau anak celebration went down

On the first day of the celebration, people started to gather in the ruai. The late Bishop Anthony Galvin conducted a service to bless the new house.

After the service ended, the men brought out 64 jars of burak (rice wine) to the verandah, placing them in a line.

Then the mothers and helpers brought out their children to be pusau and sat them down in two lines behind the jars of burak. Each jar represented every child, and each door was decorated with items to indicate the sex of the child.

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It was not necessary to sit near one’s own jars or burak. Stewart stated, “It is impossible to distinguish the sex of a child to be pusau from the jars of burak. But it can be easily distinguished from the hanging up of sarong, hornbills, houses, parangs or shields, decorated with rolled-up local tobacco.”

Additionally, the number of sarongs, hornbills, or houses or parang or shields at every door signified the number of boys and girls in that bilik. They were hung outside every door where the children were to be pusau. The hornbills, shields or parangs signified boys and sarongs or houses, girls.

Speaking to the crowd, the bishop stressed religion and added that it was necessary to practice good adat lama, or old customs such as this one. He hoped that the young generation would not forget the good adat of their ancestors although now they embraced Christianity. Then he said a short prayer and went around to touch every child on the forehead and call it by its new name.

Attending to the guests

Stewart then went on to describe about how they treated their guests during the ceremony.

“The guests were sitting in two long rows. Then a woman led the way from downstairs, wearing the traditional dress of a man going to war. She was followed by other women but in ordinary traditional dress. There were about six other women dressed like the first one. They came in line. It was very impressive sight.”

He stated, “The first woman took a slice of a fat from the second girl who carried the fat in a large container. Then she pushed the fat into guests’ mouths and then she usually smeared the face by her oily hand. The guests could return the compliment if he wished by taking the fat given and smearing her face with it. There was no compulsion to eat the fat and guests were supplied with leaves or a container in which to put it. A guest could not take too much fat. Then the third girl holding a handkerchief took a spoonful of ayer lia (ginger water) from the fourth girl which was carried in a container. After she had served the guests, she usually cleaned their mouths with her handkerchief. The next group followed on the same routine.”

According to Stewart, when the women served the guest, they were not allowed to talk or to smile. They were supposed to be absolutely solemn. There were two sets of these groups representing one child of maran rank (higher rank). For those of lower birth, one group would be enough.

This marked the end of the pusau anak ceremony. As Stewart put it, it was the most exciting and impressive part of it.

Then in the afternoon the celebration continued with fun and games. Meanwhile at night, they drank and ate till their hearts drank contentedly.

The children who had their pusau anak ceremony during this event must be in their 60s or 70s now. Do you know anybody who might be one of these children? Plus, do you know the significant of giving the guests fat and ginger water? Let us know in the comment box.

The Sale of Japanese vessels by the Custodian of Enemy Property

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Let say that a foreign country comes to attack us in war. After a while, they are chased back to where they came from leaving a lot of stuff behind. Some of these were originally taken from the civilian population and some belonged to the enemy. So, to whom does this property belongs to?

That is when the Custodian of Enemy Property comes in. It is an institution that handles property claims created by war.

In ancient times, these properties were considered as war loot and belonged to the ‘winner’ of the war.

However, in the Fourth Geneva Convention Article 147, this became categorised as a war crime.

All over the world, there are many records of Custodians of Enemy Property being established after wars ending.

For instance in India, The Custodian for Enemy Property for India was established to manage Pakistani property taken in the Second Kashmir War (1965).

Meanwhile in North Borneo (present-day Sabah), The Custodian of Enemy Property Jesselton was left in-charge of ships left behind by the Japanese after World War II (WWII).

A notice was given out to the public on Jan 31, 1952, about seven years after the war had ended, opening up the tender to purchase these ship wrecks.

This was the notice put out by the Custodian of Enemy Property:

Sale of Wrecked Vessels

The Custodian of Enemy Property, Jesselton, North Borneo, under the provision of the Japanese Property, (Vesting) Order 1951 invites tender for the purchase of certain wrecked vessels formerly of Japanese ownership lying around the coast of North Borneo. Each or all of the following vessles are offered as they lie and where they lie:-

1.The Custodian accepts no responsibility for the correctness of any part of the above description. In particular the tonnages given must be taken as merely estimated indications. Intending purchaser should arrange for their own inspection and survey of the vessels as they lie.

2.The successful tenderer will be required to obtain the approval of the Marine Superintendent Labuan, North Borneo, for the intended procedure of dealing with any wreck. Wrecks may be demolished at site. But if it is intended to attempt to float the wrecks, prior permission must be obtained from the Marine Superintendent who will require to be given full particulars of the method to be employed and of the equipment to be used in order to ensure that proper and safe methods to accordance with good salvage practice are employed. And that when floated or being removed any wreck is not likely to become a danger to navigation.

3.As regards wreck No. 1. it shall be a condition of sale that the vessel shall be totally removed, or that if partially removed or that if partially removed there shall be at least six fathoms of water over the vessel and clear obstruction at spring tides.

4.Tenderers must undertake to remove or demolish wrecks not later than 12 moths from the date of this notice. Scrap metal exported from the colony will be liable to export duty.

5.The full purchase amount must be paid to the Custodian of Property, Jesselton by the successful tenderer within fourteen days of notification of acceptance of the tender.

6.Tenders should be forwarded in sealed covers marked “Tender of the Japanese Wrecks” and addressed to the Custodian of the Property, Jesselton, North Borneo and must reach his office not later than June 14, 1952.

7.The Custodian does not bind himself to accept the highest or any tender.

Custodian of Enemy Property

KajoMag did not find any information on who bought these Japanese wrecks after this notice was published. Do you have more information on The Custodian of Enemy Property in Borneo after WWII? Let us know in the comment box.

How Apai Saloi, the trickster, makes Loki look like a noob

During a particularly fruitful durian season, Tambap or better known as Apai Saloi made plenty of tempoyak (fermented durian) with his family.

Looking at their work, Apai Saloi had an idea of selling their tempoyak to the people who lived up and down the Gelong River.

He told Indai Saloi (whose name was Chelegit) of his plan. But before he set out, he put dung below the tempoyak in all of his jars. He thought the smell must be similar, and that he would be able to sell more.

Satisfied with his handiwork, he went out to sell his tempoyak to those living in the longhouses along Gelong river.

As his longboat approached the longhouses, he began to call loudly to the people in their longhouses to come and buy his tempoyak.

Excited, for it is a family favourite even to this day, many came down to buy the tempoyak from Apai Saloi.

Apai Saloi’s fraud is uncovered

He even went as far up as Keling’s house at Panggau Libau located in the headwaters of the Gelong river. Apai Saloi’s trickery didn’t go unnoticed for long, the women discovered the dung in Apai Saloi’s tempoyak and were outraged, telling their husbands about Apai Saloi’s fraud.

In their anger, the men rushed down from the longhouse to catch him.

After they caught him, Simpurai (one of Keling’s first cousins and his head warriors) ordered Apai Saloi to be put in an iron cage to wait for his punishment.

Three days later, the people of Panggau Libau decided to take Apai Saloi downriver to throw him into the water while he still in the cage.

When they came to Lubok Wong Dalam Nerajang, a deep pool of water, they went to a nearby longhouse to inform them of what they were about to do, leaving their boat with Apai Saloi in the cage.

More victims of Apai Saloi’s fraud

When he was left alone in the boat, a man named Sabungkok came sailing down towards Apai Saloi’s boat.

Sabungkok asked him what he was doing inside the cage.

“I will go into this water to see my deceased parents and relatives in the other world,” Apai Saloi answered.

Hearing this, Sabungkok also said that he would like to meet his deceased relatives.

Apai Saloi saw his chance for escape, telling Sabungkok, “If you want to see them like me, then open this cage and come inside with me.”

Believing Apai Saloi, the poor man quickly opened the door and entered the cage.

After he had entered, Apai Saloi left and sailed away in Sabungkok’s longboat.

Shortly after Apai Saloi left, Simpurai and his friends came to the boat. They threw the cage into the water, thinking Apai Saloi was inside it.

Some weeks later, Apai Saloi accidentally bumped into Simpurai and his friends.

They were surprised to see him alive. Again, Apai Saloi took this opportunity to trick them yet again. He told them he had met his parents and other dead relatives in the other world but was able to return safely to this world.

After listening to this, many wanted to see their dead families and friends just like Apai Saloi claimed to have done.

Many cages were made for the people who wanted to be thrown into the river. Unfortunately, all of them were drowned.

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Many drowned believing in Apai Saloi’s lies.

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