February 17, 2012 10:54 AM
Special Homecoming For Late Hero Penghulu Imban Anak Medan
By Edward Subeng Stephen
SIBU, Feb 17 (Bernama) -- A very special, albeit sombre, homecoming ceremony will be held tomorrow afternoon at the Nanga Sekuau Regrouping and Resettlement Scheme at Nanga Sekuau, about 45 km from here.
The remains of one of Batang Oya's most famous sons, the late Penghulu Imban anak Medan, will be taken from an isolated upriver grave and reburied at his monument in the Nanga Sekuau communal cemetery.
"He truly deserves such honour, respect and treatment," Tamin state assemblyman Joseph Mauh Ikeh said after distributing 1Malaysia People's Aid (BR1M) at SK Tong Ah here today.
Penghulu Imban, the Batang Oya Iban headman, was killed in cold blood by communist terrorists on Feb 26, 1972, at his longhouse in Nanga Pakoh.
"They shot him because many of his followers were Border Scouts, the state paramilitary unit responsible for many successful raids and battles against them, after they threatened defenceless rural folk," Mauh said.
He said Imban was no ordinary chief; because of his "pengaroh"(charm/amulet), he was impervious to the bullets of his killers.
"The very angry bandits then threatened to attack his followers. It was at this juncture that the 78-year-old leader did the ultimate. He decided to sacrifice himself for them by taking off his amulet so the terrorists could finish him off. He was buried the next day at the Nanga Pakoh Iban cemetery," he said.
Following Imban's killing, Mauh said, the fear among rural settlers of becoming the next victim or being constantly harassed for food prompted the government to create the Nanga Sekuau, Nanga Tada, Nanga Jagau, Nanga Ngungun, Rantau Panjai and Nanga Dap, all in the Sibu Division.
Nanga Sekuau was the first to be set up, on 26 March, 1972. It now has five longhouses with about 50 families.
He said the idea to create Imban's monument was mooted by Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu, Deputy Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Joseph Entulu, Ninth Infantry Brigade Commander Brig-Gen Datuk Stephen Mandaw and himself.
"We sought the consent of his children and they all agreed," he said.
He said the idea developed when the state government and the Defence Ministry brought back the remains of 21 Sarawak Trackers and Rangers who were killed fighting communist terrorists in places such as Perak, Kedah, Federal Territory (Kuala Lumpur), Melaka and Singapore during the Malayan Emergency.
They were last year reburied at the Heroes Grave at Jalan Budaya in Kuching.
Mauh said Imban will be an inspiration and paragon of patriotism and nationalism to the new generation.
"He made the ultimate sacrifice ... giving up his life for his followers, his country. He was a hero," he said.
He said the reburial under the codename "Ops Mai Pulai" (Bringing Back Operation) would be carried out in accordance with Iban rituals.
"We consulted the Majlis Adat Istiadat Sarawak (Sarawak Native Customs Council) to ensure that the ceremony will be conducted strictly according to the rituals.
"We have invited Jabu, Minister of Land Development Tan Sri Dr James Masing, Minister of Social Development Tan Sri William Mawan, Entulu, Stephen Mandaw, the country's most decorated war hero Temenggong Datuk Langkau anak Kanang and others for this ceremony," Mauh said.
When contacted, Benedict Bato anak Imban, 62, the youngest of Imban's 10 children, thanked the government and the leaders involved for the gesture.
"We are all very happy for this. My late father's remains will be taken out from his grave on the morning of Feb 26 for reburial at the monument later in the afternoon.
"We also wish to thank all those involved for this great honour," he said.