A Short History of Lundu.
As far as anyone knows, the lands around Lundu was empty of people
until relatively recently. Although the main river is called Batang
Kayan, "the Kayan river," there is no evidence at all that any Kayan
people ever lived there.. In the middle of the eighteenth century a
group of Bidayuh people from near Bau migrated and settled on the west
bank of the Batang Kayan, where Kampong Stunggang Melayu now stands.
They came to be called the Dayak Lundu, and though the last member of
the tribe died in the 1960s, you can still see the grove of durian
they planted. The name "Lundu" itself is taken from a small catfish
that abounds in the Sungai Lundu which flows down from Gunung Gading.
Towards the close of the eighteenth century three groups of people at
the same time came separately to make their homes in Lundu. From the
east came the Ibans. These Ibans were originally from Balau on the west
bank of the Batang Lupar. They spoke, and still speak their own dialect
of Iban and traditionally had been enemies with the Ibans of the
Saribas and Paku areas. A group of Balau people decided to mindah,
migrate. They stopped first at Sebuyau, and from there travelled west.
From their stay at Sebuyau they have kept the name Iban Sebuyau.
Part of them, it seems, came overland, and made settlements along the
way in the Samarahan area, at Kuap, and in Kuching. Another part, led
by their chief, Nyambong, went by sea and first established themselves
near the sea at the mouth of the Batang Kayan. Later the Sebuyau moved
upriver and built a longhouse on the east bank of the Batang Kayan to
the ulu of the small Sungai Stunggang. The present Kampong
Stunggang Dayak occupies the site (more or less; at least an acre of land has been lost to
the river by erosion) of the old longhouse. On his first visit to
Kuching in 1839, James Brooke, later to become the first Rajah
of Sarawak, met the headman of the longhouse, Jugah. According to custom, the longhouse was called Rumah Jugah, "Jugah's Longhouse." Jugah invited Brooke to visit Lundu, and spent his
first time among Dayaks in the welcome company, I am proud to say, of
my son's ancestors. The Sebuyau remained Brooke's favorite tribe, and
they performed heroic service in the Rajah's campaigns against the
"pirates." The Lundu chiefs bore the title
of Orang Kaya Pemancha, "Rich-Man, Commander," after Jugah had
ennobled by the Sultan of Brunei in the early nineteenth century. This
line came to an end in 2003 with the death of O.K.P. Kalong, a direct
descendent of Nyambong and Jugah, at the age of 93.
As the Sebuyau were coming to Lundu from the east, Chinese and Selako
settlers were arriving from the west, over the hills that separate
Sarawak from what is now Indonesian Borneo. Chinese had been living in
Pontianak and Sambas for a hundred years or more. When gold was
discovered in Bau, Chinese migrated there and established their kongsi,
"commercial republic." Along the way a number of mainly Hakka Chinese,
settled in the Lundu area, first of all, it seems, at a spot about a
mile to the ulu of Rumah Stunggang, where they began to grow
vegetables to sell to the Sebuyau. Many Chinese people in the Lundu
district make their living by
Before the Brooke era, and well into it, life at Lundu was centered on
Rumah Stunggang and the nearby area where Brooke established a fort
and offices. The present Christ Church, which replaces the first Christ
Church built in 1863, overlooks the site of the old fort and its
landing. It is unclear when Lundu town began to assemble itself at the
present location about a mile to the ili’ on the river. Some
sort of pasar must
have existed in the second half of the 19th century, for the Lundu
District Officer wrote in the 1870s to report on Chinese secret
societies. The smaller Chinese temple across the road from the bigger
temple by the bus station was
built in 1893.
Also from the west came the Selako or Selakau. The Selako are Dayaks;
their language and culture is related to the Ibans', although they are
distinctly different. The Selako claimed the land from west of the
Batang Kayan to Sematan. As Lundu became a regional center, Malays also
came to settle from the Natuna Islands.
What is wonderful about Lundu, is that although four different people
settled very close together, there has from the beginning never been
any friction between them. The reason for this cordiality is, I
that all three peoples came to Lundu to seek a better life, and each
pursued their aim in a way that did not compete with the others. The
were interested in developing low-land rice, and they traded their
to the Malays of the Natuna Islands for salt fish, sugar, and other
goods. The Chinese came to trade and to farm, and the Selako also
appreciated security and prosperity. The Selako now supply Lundu with
vegetables and fruits from their gardens. The Malays fished on the sea.
The Saribas Ibans made one attempt to wage war on the Lundu Sebuyau in
the early 1800s. Their war-boats were blocked by an emormous boom
laid across the river; the Sebuyau had cannon, and the Saribas were
defeated and forced to retreat. Since then Lundu has been at peace,
with the exception of two periods: the Japanese occupation and Konfrontasi,
the guerilla war waged on Sarawak, then part of Malaysia, by Sukarno's
Indonesia. The Japanese occupation was a time of hardship and anxiety
for Lundu people, but they suffered nothing more painful than shortages
of food and goods. Konfrontasi was a small war, but brought tragedy.
Local people were killed by Indonesian guerillas, and some younger
people of Lundu lost their lives after having joined the communist
insurrection supported by Indonesia. The memories are painful.
Lundu had electricity and piped water (from Gunung Gading) by the
early 60s. Piped water came to Kpg. Stunggang Dayak in 1987, and
electricity was extended to our kampong in 1988. The Lundu hospital was
1965, and now offers treatment for all except the most serious
problems. They have a dental clinic and ultrasound screening for
mothers-to-be. Until 1968 Lundu could be reached from Kuching only by
boat. In that year
the road from Bau to Lundu was completed and regular bus service began.
This road remained a gravel-surfaced road until 1995, when the whole
was improved and asphalted.
About 5,000 people live in or close to Lundu town. The total population
of Lundu district was about 25,000 when figures last became available.
People in Lundu make their living in traditional ways, by farming,
fishing, planting cocoa, pepper, and rubber, although rubber is less
than it was. There is a smidgen of light industry, and the palm-oil
plantations that line the
road and across the river towards Sematan, together with the factories
for the extraction of the oil, employ many people. Trade to
supply the needs of primary economic contributors is vigorous.
bridge over the Batang Kayan is completed, we are expecting new
in tourism and other things.