Tuesday, January 21

Langub talk on why Fort Vyner was built in the Rajang basin at Belaga

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KUCHING: People from all walks of life are invited to a talk entitled ‘Brooke Low and Fort Vyner: Establishment of an Administrative Centre’ come March 18.

The talk, to be deliberated by Jayl Langub, is scheduled for 2.30pm at Telang Usan Hotel here.

The speaker, a retired civil servant, is expected to enlighten participants on significant historical events in the Rajang basin that prompted the building of a fort at the confluence of Belaga and Balui rivers in the upper Rajang and the people who built it, said a recent media statement from Friends of Sarawak Museum (FoSM).

“What triggered the need to build a fort was the 1859 murder of Fox and Steele, the two Brooke officers manning Fort Emma at Kanowit, and the ‘Great Kayan Expedition’ that followed to pursue the principal murderers, Sawing and Sekalai who fled up the Rajang to take refuge at the Kejaman longhouse at Tuju Matahap just above the confluence of Belaga and Balui.

“The man behind the building of the fort at Belaga was Hugh Brooke Low, the Resident of Third Division based in Sibu. An amateur ethnologist, Low kept diaries of his trips up the Rajang which later became a very important published source on the geography, people and culture of Belaga district,” pointed out the statement.

According to the same statement, Low assembled a considerable work force from downriver that included 715 Iban from more than a dozen different rivers, 29 Siduan, 25 Malay, 25 Beketan, 24 Maloh, 19 Kanowit, 18 Sibu, 12 Sihan and two Tanjong, making a total of 869 people from outside Belaga to build the fort, later named Fort Vyner.

The fort was officially declared completed on Jan 13, 1884.

However, Low came back later bringing a Chinese carpenter by the name of ‘Ah Chong’ to do some refinement touches with local workers to really complete the building, said the statement.

Jayl is currently an associate research fellow at the Institute of Borneo Studies, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak and a Trustee of WWF-Malaysia.

For registration or more information, call 012-855 0588 or email to: [email protected]