Intermarriages common in Julau

A stall selling traditional Iban costumes at the weekend open air market.

A stall selling traditional Iban costumes at the weekend open air market.

JULAU: Intermarriage is a common here where 15 per cent of the residents are married to spouses from other races, especially between Ibans and Chinese.

It is not a surprise to see a resident who looks like a Chinese but has an Iban name, while an Iban looks every bit like a Chinese. The BAT Team did not go far to notice that. At a long boat jetty, Kong Siun Hock, 44, is a Hakka who looks exactly like an Iban, and speaks fluent Iban and Hakka. Meanwhile, Ah Seng Metul looks very much like a Chinese but was born an Iban with a Chinese mother.

According to Kapitan Hung Tiang Yong, 58, the rate of intermarriage here was high in where about 15 per cent of the residents were married to other communities.

“The majority of the population here are Ibans but we also have quite a big number of Chinese too.”

The Chinese community are concentrated in three settlements – the town itself where all of them are businessmen (40 families), Kpg China Selaut (20 families) which is the area opposite Julau separated by the Kanowit River and those in Taman Mau Seng (18 families). There are about 600 Chinese voters in Julau.

Hung said Julau had in recent years grown at an impressive pace due to the diligence of the Iban community and their vibrant agricultural activities such as the cultivation of palm oil, pepper and rubber.

“We don’t differentiate between Chinese and Iban here. All Chinese here speak Iban and both communities share a very close relationship,” said Hung, whose appointment as Kapitan has just been renewed.

He said it had been the wishes of Julau Chinese to have a hanging bridge linking the town and Kpg China Selaut to be widened from six feet to eight feet.

“Now, the bridge only allows motorcycles to pass through. We hope it is a stronger and wider bridge of eight feet to carry the weight of motor vehicles.” On the whole, he said both the Chinese and Ibans were quite satisfied with the development of Julau.