SIBU: Sarawak nationalist Rentap’s sheer determination to survive and win in the numerous fights against the Brooke regime in the late 1850s should be emulated by the rural folk in their own fight, which is to have a better standard of living.
1Malaysia Sarawak Advisory Council chairman Datuk Joseph Salang said besides being an illiterate, Rentap had to fight the blazing guns and cannonballs of the Brooke force until he was finally defeated in 1861.
“Let us be inspired by his spirit of determination to survive. We should apply it in our own struggle to have a better standard of living in the present world.
“We must also have the spirit of self reliance and must work hard to reach our targets,” he said at a meet-the-people session at Rumah Unjar in Ulu Wak in Pakan on Sunday.
He had earlier on attended the 25th anniversary celebration of the establishment of the Rentap Memorial Tomb (Lumbong Rentap) at Bukit Sibau, about 10km from the 26-door longhouse.
The function was organised by Rentap’s descendents under the leadership of Luyan Bunsang and his group from Pakan and attended by those from Semanok in Tatau (Bintulu) led by Madang anak Penghulu Rirong and by ex-ranger Dunstan Dunggang from Sungai Aup and others from Bawang Asan (both in Sibu).
“While we expect and appreciate the relevant aids from the government, we must not be overly dependent on them.
“But if we desire to have more material comforts and income, we must rely more on our own efforts. We have lands that we can till, especially for commercial farming, which can yield good income,” he said.
Salang, who is Julau member of parliament, said the Pakan areas were known in the country for producing pepper.
“We have families in the interior places like Kemalih and Masit who enjoy very good income from pepper and are in fact quite well off.
“In Masit, for example, there are about 100 families cultivating a combined 105,000 vines of pepper.”
Salang also said the Ulu Wak area, despite its bad roads and the absence of power and treated water supplies, had the potential for eco-tourism.
“There are two waterfalls while homestay can be organised. Rentap’s memorial tomb can be the star attraction.
“I would suggest to the organiser of the annual Pesta Pakan to include the annual celebration to remember Rentap as of the programme.
“It can perhaps replace the rafting competition which is getting irrelevant based on the poor participation this year,” he said.
Luyan, in his welcoming address earlier, urged the Sarawak Museum to allocate some fund for the annual maintenance of Rentap’s memorial tomb.
“With this fund, we can spruce up the place to make it worthy of the final resting place of one of Sarawak’s greatest freedom fighters,” he said.