Friday, January 4, 2008

The Bau Chinese Insurgence 1857

This is a forgotten sad story of a Chinese leader Liu Shan Bang, the Twelve Kongsi operating in the Mau San gold mine, and the once prosperous self governed mining town of Bau Lama or Mau San.

The Mau San Tian Tsze Lung Kung is more than a century old. It was founded around the time when gold & antimony were discovered in Mau San, about 1820 – 1830. The host deity is Lau Chu Tian Tsze, a deity of Hakka origin since most of the miners were Hakka, originally mostly from Sambas, Kalimantan. This temple provided the pioneer miners spiritual supports and also served as a centre for cultural activities & other administrative matters of the Twelve Kongsi.

Before the arrival of Sir James Brooke, Sarawak was under the rule of Brunei. Around that time, Sarawak, particularly the settlement around the gold mining areas were facing an uprising against the Brunei ruling from native Dayaks and the Malays. James Brooke assisted the Sultan of Brunei to settle the local civil war & thus was granted the White Rajah to rule Sarawak.

As the Brooke Administration began to establish his rule over Sarawak, he began to impose taxes etc, prohibited opium & wine trading, and restricted trading & export of gold & antimony, particularly to the self governing Mau San and the Twelve Kongsi.
It was said that James Brooke earlier on had established agreement with the Twelve Kongsi of non intervention on respective areas, partly of his busy involvement with the local civil war between Brunei & local Dayaks, and earlier political circumstances.

The Twelve Kongsi and the Chinese miners in Mau San had already well established since then. They were well contented in their self rulings since the earlier Brunei poor administration, & the civil war.

The reforming Brooke administration had angered the Mau San miners & the Twelve Kongsi, and thus a rebellion was started against the White Rajah.
The rebellion was initiated in 1857 at Tian Tsze Lung Kung in Mau San by Liu Shan Bang, the leader of the Twelve Kongsi.

600 armed miners, without proper weapons & military training, paddled down the Sarawak River & attacked the Astana. James Brooke escaped the assault. Five Europeans were killed, and one was mistaken to be James Brooke. With no political will & planning the Chinese miners stayed or ruled Kuching for 3 days before returning to their base.

By then, James Brooke had already been given time for retaliation. The counter attacks by Brooke’s army, with combined forces of Skrang Iban warriors & Malays loyal to him, defeated the Chinese miners badly.

In Jugan Siniawan, more than a hundred miners were killed; including the leader Liu Shan Bang himself. Dead bodies were left & decomposed everywhere in the area. The smell was said to be so bad that the nearby place is now called 'Buso' (in Malay, it means rotten or stink). The Shan Teck Temple in Siniawan was later constructed in memory of the tragic event of Liu Shan Bang & his associates.

The remaining miners retreated further to Mau San, some escaped to Kalimantan, most perished on the way. Many miners & families hid in nearby cave (the Ghost Cave named after the tragedy) and subsequently hunted down & killed by the Rajah forces; most were suffocated to death, including many women & children. The Mau San mining settlement, together with the Twelve Kongsi was thus wiped out after the incident.

The decomposed smell of dead bodies in Ghost Cave & surrounding areas in Mau San had lasted for weeks; it is not known whether the town, ‘Bau’ (means smelly, in Malay), got its name from the incident.

Places of Worship & Devotion In Sarawak


Anonymous said...
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Muhammad Amirul Ismail said...

i would like to know what is actualy a kongsi. Iam sure it is not like kongsi gelap since the 12 kongsi are like communitiy elders. thanks :)

black charcoal said...

A kongsi in 'Hokkien' dialect is actually 'company', the 12 kongsi is something of a company with 12 shareholders; the 12 kongsi at that time operated more like a cooperative than our current 'company' scenario.

james said...

hope to share with Mr. Muhammad Amirul Ismail and friends:

The texts written by various author is of different origins and they either speak hokkian, Cantonese, hakka. If Muhammad is from Kuala Lumpur , Selangor area,the most commonn language used by Chinese in that area is cantonese of southern China origin.
Hakka is considered an ancient tribe since thousands of years ago, who escaped Mongolians and Ching Dynasty and sailed to southeast Asia.
Mau San means prosperous, abandant mountain, where san is literally mountain, or very large hill.
Kun Xi was the original name for company or literally sharing in adjective form. They share and there were 12 groups with likely 12 leaders. That was not proven as there was no solid proof nor record. It could be number 12 as there were other companies in Sambas.

Kun Xi is a good term as it signify sharing.

The teacher who is most famous was confucius, who taught Chinese to be gentle and moderate in a sense, that they should learn not to attack.

Quoted Admirer Zheng He ( Cheng Ho, Chang Foh originally in the Ming dynasty script), Admirer Menzies of UK navy confirmed that Chinese navy sailed with large fleet( 27,000 navy soldiers) to spreaded book of technologies, good will and promoted trade. That navy pacified many pirates and definately contribute to our modern civilized world...
one wor..
Kun Xi,= Share and lead to peace and prosperity..thank you..regards from Dr. J Chong

desmond leong said...

I have done some research on the Bau Massacre and had published the result in a book, The White Rajahs...Myth Retold: the Massacre of the Bau Hakkas. In it, I mentioned that some scholars are doubtful if "rebel" leader actually existed. We must all look critically into our local history again. My book also reveals the Sarawak state did not last a century because it was actually founded in 1846. -Desmond Leong

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know about the history of a Buddha statue in the middle of the roundabout at Bau Market? Is so, please share in this forum.

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