Descendant sheds more light on Tok Limbong

However, historians fail to provide a comprehensive record of Tok Limbong’s role other than allegations that he had led a group of villagers from Hulu Terengganu who rebelled to uphold the dignity of religion, race and nation. 

A respectable ulama and missionary, Tok Limbong was also a successful businessman and hardworking farmer. 

Tok Limbong, who was born around 1880s in Kampung Beladau Kolam, Kuala Terengganu, studied religion in Mecca. 

Prior to his role in the uprising against the British, he had spent much of his time conducting business along the coast of South China Sea and taught religion in several places, including at a surau in Kampung Kubang Kurus, near Kemaman. 

Though the surau no longer exists, the villagers have dedicated an old well behind the surau to him, calling it the “Limbong’s Well” (Telaga Limbong) because he often used the water from the well to clean himself each time he visited the village. 

His great grandson, Mohd Ghazali Abdullah, said Tok Limbong grew up in Pahang and later moved to a village known as Limbong in Kemaman. The village served as his favourite stop during business trips and led to him acquiring the “Limbong” name.  

Mohd Ghazali said Tok Limbong was to gain greater prominence when a new law that prohibited the locals from collecting land and forest resources was implemented in Hulu Terengganu, Kuala Nerus and Dungun around 1921. The sultan was pressured by the colonial authorities to introduce the law. 

Under the law, locals were prohibited from clearing land for agricultural purposes and they were required to obtain a special pass or licence to harvest sago and gather screwpine, palm leaves and bamboos.  

According to Mohd Ghazali, the oppressive law prompted a group of peasants in Hulu Terengganu to protest by ignoring the law from July to August 1921. 

In the end, 43 of the peasants were summoned and tried at the lower court in Kuala Terengganu on claims that they illegally cleared land. 

Though busy with his business and missionary work, the incident attracted Tok Limbong’s attention and he came forward to help. He obtained a licence to defend the farmers during the hearing that caught the attention of thousands of Terengganu’s denizens. In other words, he acted as a lawyer to the group. 

Though the hearing was conducted in a civil court, Tok Limbong based his arguments on the Quran and the traditions of the prophet. He was tenacious and the prosecution failed to counter his arguments. 

When the case was retried at the High Court, the outcome still favoured Tok Limbong and the peasants. 

On May 21 1928, Tok Limbong was on his way from Beserah in Pahang to Legor in Thailand when a group started another uprising in Padang Kacong, Hulu Terengganu in order to break free from colonialism. 

It was part of a series of attacks that, among others, saw the siege of the Kuala Berang police post. 

In the battle at Padang Kacong, 12 villagers, including the head known as Tok Janggut (not to be confused with the one who led the uprising in Kelantan) were shot dead. 

The British blamed Tok Limbong for the violence and pressured the sultan to put him under arrest. 

Tok Limbong was then summoned to Istana Maziah for an audience with Sultan Sulaiman. 

Tok Limbong was detained without trial and banished, first to Singapore and then sent to Mecca where he died 15 months later. 

Not much is known of what happened after that, especially details about his wealth and businesses, apart from the many descendants living around Pulau Musang, Kuala Terengganu and the graves of the 12 Malay warriors, in Padang Kacong. 

Although there was no clear indication that Tok Limbong had a hand in any of the uprisings, he did instil the spirit that was to set in motion the movement to achieve independence generations later. – Bernama 

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