Monday, September 05, 2011

History: Julau Fort Brooke at Ng. Meluan - Holding the fort

Let's go on the trail of the colonial forts. Julau is a frontier town of Sarikei's 6th  Division. It's 66km from Sarikei down town. At the exit from Julau, follow the Ng. Meluan direction and you will come to the sign above. Then follow the Kubu Brooke (Brooke Fort) sign.

In 2011, the Meluan constituency consists of 11,487 registered voters – Ibans 92.61%, Chinese 6.40%, Malay-Melanau 0.98% and others 0.02%.

From Julau, the 24km distance will take 30-45 minutes drive through scenic green hills and across four bridges. The fort is easy to find with clear signs. If you get lost, just ask a friendly Iban.

This fort was in the list proposed in 2008 to be gazetted as Sarawak's cultural heritage under the Sarawak Culture Heritage Ordinance 1993.

The gantry to the fort's gate reads "Kubu Brooke Ng. Meluan (1935 AD)". Ng. (nanga) in Iban means something like the estuary of a tributary. A staircase leads straight to the upper floor. A plaque (erected in 2009) there tells the story.

The colonial ruler then, Rajah Charles Vyner Brooke, introduced a taxation system to raise revenue. It was rejected by the locals and Asun anak Paing led a rebellion in 1932 and attacked with just parangs, spears and shields. The original fort was built with bamboo and a wooden roof in 1935 to quell the rebellion. 

Asun, born in 1880s, was a penghulu from the Entabai area in Julau.

In 1940, the colonial government directed the fort to be reinforced with iron wood (belian). Between 1940 and 1943, it was rebuilt with belian donated by the locals with each longhouse contributing one pole and three pieces of belian plank.

In 1954-1981, this fort was used as an office by the Julau District Council and followed by the Education Department. Today it's a tourist attraction with an empty interior.

Update: It underwent repair and painting works in 2012 at a cost of MYR450,000

This small fort may not look like much protection but for the guards inside with firearms, they could easily shoot intruders from the holes in the wall on the ground floor. 

Some portion of the walls could also be opened to bring out the canons.

From the vantage point of the first floor, the guards could have a 360 degree lookout for rebels from the river and land.

Firearms could be used through the criss crossed lattice to shoot at the rebels.

In front of the fort is a picnic area with a small pavilion that boasts scenic view of the river.

Today if you think you heard battle cries at this area, fear not, because this cries and screams emanates from the the kids playing in the nearby school, SK Ng. Meluan.

(All photos courtesy of a reader.)

1 comment:

Sarikeikia said...

This could well be the inspiration for the design of swiftlet hotel that mushroom all over the whole Sarikei district or could it be the 1st swiftlet hotel in Sarawak? just kidding.....

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