THE PAHANG RISING
The Straits Times 9 April 1892
Interview with Mr. Bibby
UNOFFICIAL NEWS OF THE SITUATION
THE SULTAN’S GAME OF HIDE AND SEEK
THE SUBLIME CONFIDENCE OF THE OFFICIALS
Mr. Bibby, the mining manager on the Raub property of the Raub Australian Syndicate, at Raub, Pahang, arrived in Singapore this morning with the result of the last crushing. He traveled by way of Selangor. Owing to the great distance of Raub from the disaffected country, Mr. Bibby is not, and never has been posted about the movements of the rebellious Malays; but he is in a position to detail a few of the past incidents in connection with the Pahang Rising. His narrative throws a different light upon the situation as compared with the Government lantern. Mr. Bibby was seen today by a representative of the Straits Times and almost the first words which Mr. Bibby uttered were: “There will be a general rising throughout the state; why you cannot speak to a Malay in the country who does not sympathise with the ex-Orang Kaya.”
That is the impression Mr. Bibby has formed after a careful study of the whole affair. He says that there seems to be a system in the operations of the ex-Orang Kaya, one of the main features of which setting about various rumours regarding his successes so as to egg on the Malays; and the least thing now would be to set the whole country a blaze. In fact, Mr. Bibby says, he believes the war has already started. If it is impossible, he thinks, to conceive why the Government will persist in making so little of the Rising; it certainly is a comparatively small affair but it seems more than they can deal with.
The oft-expressed loyalty of the Sultan and his followers was never best manifested in the negative than in the taking of the Lebok Trua by the ex-Orang Kaya. It appears to be a custom among the Malays to give their Malayan opponents timely warning of their intent to proceed against them, and the ex-Orang Kaya, when contemplating the raid on Lebok Trua, sent down to the headman there, telling him that he was coming and asking if the Sultan’s men intended to fight. The headman replied that he would fight. The ex-Orang Kaya fell upon the place, and only found the headman and two Malays in the whole of Lebok Trua; all the other men had de-camped. It was just before this that Mr. Bibby Jr. was captured. This incident has been fairly well detailed but we do not think it was said clearly that Bibby Jr. was an eyewitness of the captured Lebok Trua.
It was getting towards evening when Bibby Jr. slipped out into the jungle on the opposite side of the river, and, from a small eminence saw the whole proceedings.
There were taken away twenty-one bags of rice, a large quantity of dried fish, forty five rifles, and about two thousand rounds of ammunition.
As the rice was brought out it was equally divided amongst ex-Orang Kaya’s followers, and the Sultan’s three men, after which the ex-Orang Kaya and his men retired into the jungle. In the evening the ex-Orang Kaya sent one of his men to Bibby Jr. asking him to come, which he did about 9 o’clock. The ex-Orang Kaya explained to Bibby Jr. his grievances, and at the chief’s request, Bibby Jr, wrote everything down which as the ex-Orang Kaya explained, would give the public a better opportunity of seeing that he has what he contends to be a rightful grievance.
The two men were together for four hours, and it was 1 o’clock the next morning before everything was properly written out, and they parted. Bibby Jr. kept the M.S.S. which amongst other things contains a history of the whole of the operations of the ex-Orang Kaya and his men from the commencement up to that period. Unfortunately Mr. Bibby forgot to bring his son’s M.S.S. down with him. The next day, with a pass from the ex-Orang Kaya, Bibby Jr. safely returned to Raub without suffering the least molestation on the way. The action in some of the Sultan’s men in decapitating one or two of the ex-Orang Kaya’s men created a very bad feeling throughout the whole of Pahang and in the district between Raub and Batu Ampat especially, which is usually populous, but in a very few days after this affair, was practically deserted. Now as regards the number of followers with the ex-Orang Kaya, which was stated by Mr. Rodger to be about forty, Bibby Jr. himself, counted two hundred and seventy men with the chief and it was then reported that there were another hundred men proceeding to Bentong to attack it. The present operations of the Panglima Mada of Jempol would appear to be apart from the ex-Orang Kaya’s works; but everything is so mixed up that that it is difficult to say with any degree of accuracy whether this be so or not.
At any rate one conspicuous feature of the ex-Orang Kaya’s proceedings has been so far, that he has not attempted to attack Europeans unconnected with the Government. It will probably be remembered that the Straits Times published certain rumours regarding the demeanour of the Toh Rajah of Jellei who is the greatest and most powerful chief in the whole of the State. So far as can be ascertained the Toh Rajah of Jellei is lying dormant, but it is well known that the slightest provocation would bring him up in arms. He professes now to be sick which, being interpreted, means, practically, that he is watching operations, and that if success attends the rebels he will probably join them with his forces. He refused quite recently to see the Sultan of Pahang. Jempol is situated about half way between Temerloh and Pekan, and
Mr. Bibby says that if they have broken out there, it can be safely reckoned that there is a prospect of a general war throughout the State. According to what can be learned there, it would appear that a schemewas afloat to attack Raub, and that the leader was to be the Toh Gajah of Pahang. This Toh Gajah is the Sultan of Pahang’s head chief, and Mr. Bibby says that he is the biggest scoundrel of the whole lot, and it is well known what ill-feeling this head man has always shown to the Government. Therefore it is not unreasonable to suppose that there may have been an element of truth in the report. On the 26th March Mr. Bibby received a letter from Mr. Rodger at Pulan Tawar which stated that he was going down to Temerloh with the Sultan. Since then Mr. Rodger has heard that the Sultan would not go. It is impossible for anyone acquainted with the affairs of the country not to doubt the Sultan’s alleged loyally.
As touching the period when Singapore and the whole of the Straits Settlements was in a manner soothed by the official statements that the Rising was finished and that there need be no more cause to fear the ex-Orang Kaya – the Governor made a generally congratulatory address in the Legislative council; despatches were sent home saying that the disturbance, which was purely local, was quelled, and shortly afterwards Mr. Rodger came down from Pahang believing that the country was then in perfect peace and happiness. But how did all this originate? A query which is answered by Mr. Bibby in the following words: “The Sultan with the British Resident, accompanied by six or seven hundred men went up the river from Temerloh as far as Bentong, and they never made an attempt to capture the ex-Orang Kaya.
They remained at Bentong a couple of days and then returned down the river direct to Temerloh. The Sultan simply lounged back in his barge, and as for routing out the ex-Orang Kaya that apparently never entered into his head. The ex-Orang Kaya quietly watched the expedition from a secure place in the jungle. After this little excursion up the river news was sent to Singapore that the Rising was at an end. The Sultan’s men plundered right and left on the occasion. On the strength of this unmolested trip up the river Mr. Rodger came to the conclusion that there was no further need to trouble and quietly set about packing up his traps for Singapore”
That is an observer’s view of how the Pahang Rising was quelled. It will be remembered that Mr. Rodger duly arrived in Singapore, booked passages for himself, wife and daughter, and on the very day previous to sailing news came of the ex-Orang Kaya taking Lebok Trua, and Mr. Rodger and family instead of going to Europe returned the same day to Pahang.
Mr. Bibby brought down 121 ounces of smelted gold the result of crushing 590 tons of stuff. He says that the peculiar state of the country compels them to do just what they can. He says they are prepared for defense at Raub.
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