Libau ‘Rentap”


Rentap or Libau (died 1863) was a Dayak (Iban) rebel leader in Sarawak, Malaysia during the Brooke White Rajahs era. “Rentap” in Iban means “Worldshaker”. He was known as “Raja Darat” or “Raja Ulu”.[1]

Rentap’s rebellion was due to James Brooke‘s action of eliminating the Ibans in Skrang. Being a leader of the Ibans there, Rentap took the subsequent action of attacking James Brooke’s fort Nanga Skrang on the Skrang River. In retaliation the Iban leader Gassang, who was a close ally of Brooke, then burnt Rentap’s village.[1] Rentap retreated to Sungai Lang, but was defeated there in 1854 by 7000-strong force led by Iban leader Datu Tumanggong Mersal and Brooke’s commander Henry Steele. Rentap retreated to Bukit Sadok and built himself a fort there. Here he was joined and supported by the Batu Lingtang community who farmed the area.[2] Brooke’s forces stormed and overthrew the hill fort in 1857, at which point Rentap and his companions fled into the jungle.[3] Two years later, Rentap offered his surrender, but his terms were refused by the Brooke administration, which felt that Rentap had become too much of a figurehead for resistance to be allowed to live. By 1861, Rentap’s support had waned, and expedition headed by Charles Johnson was sent to capture him at Sadok. Rentap again offered his surrender, but was rebuffed. Sadok fell after a three-hour cannon bombardment, but Rentap escaped and fled into the jungle near Bukit Sibau. He died a few years later, still in hiding.[1] In Malaysia, he is not only renowned in Sarawak, but he is also a national hero in both Sabah and the Peninsula as both a national hero and a freedom fighter.

Rentap’s battle cry was Agi Idup, Agi Ngelaban!! which means I will fight as long as I will live!!. This legendary battle cry later became Malaysia’s Royal Ranger Regiment motto.

 

 

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