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 trees 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 been ennobled by the Sultan of Brunei in the early nineteenth century. This historic 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 gardening pepper.

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 believe, that all three peoples came to Lundu to seek a better life, and each people pursued their aim in a way that did not compete with the others. The Sebuyau were interested in developing low-land rice, and they traded their surplus 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 built in 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 stretch 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 important than it was. There is a smidgen of light industry, and the palm-oil plantations that line the Bau-Lundu 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.  When the bridge over the Batang Kayan is completed, we are expecting new opportunities in tourism and other things.