Rentap, the most famous Iban warrior in Sarawak, was from the Betong Division but lived his last years in the Sarikei Divsion. The Sarikei story during the Brooke era needs to include with this Iban freedom fighter that fought against the Brookes.
Rentap was named Libau when he was born in the Kapuas River area in Kalimantan. His parents moved to the Saribas River region when he was young. After he took his first human head in one of his raids at other villages, he took the name Rentap ("one who makes the world shake" in Iban). In 1837, he fearlessly captured the brass cannon from the boat of the Sultan of Pontianak in full sight of its Dutch ally warship.
On 31 Jul 1849 at the Battle of Beting Maru, he lost to James Brooke's men and withdrew to upstream Saribas and built a fort at Tabbat on Mount Sadok, overlooking River Lang. In 1852, James Brooke built a fort at Lingga to protect the villages at Lower Lupar from Rentap's frequent raids. Rentap came up with a battle plan to beat James - he attacked another Brooke fort at Skrang to draw people away from the Lingga fort. Then he quickly attacked Lingga fort and killed Lee, the English head of the fort. James was shocked and sent Charles Johnson Brooke to oversee Lingga fort.
In Dec 1852, James went to the Skrang fort and invited Rentap to negotiate peace but Rentap declined to meet.
In Aug 1854, James and Charles led an army of 7000 Malays and Dayaks to fight Rentap. To prevent Rentap's allies from coming to help him, an army under Steele went to Kanowit and another under Datu Temonggong went up the Saribas. The main army then travelled up River Lang and built a fort at Entabai. James then led an army of 500 to attack Rentap's Tabbat fort. The wounded Rentap escaped. After this, James Brooke was kept busy with other Iban groups attacking Lower Rejang trading posts near Sarikei and Julau. This allowed Rentap to return to Mount Sadok.
Rentap continued to fortify his Sadok fort. He called himself the "Inland Rajah" and became the centre of the Iban resistance against the intruding colonial powers. Did the Tuan Besar, Rajah James Brooke and his Tuan Muda, Charles Brooke, strike back? Stay tuned.
Men of Sarawak, A.M. Cooper, 1968.