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Sibu - Race

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Harmony among race

The Malays

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The Malays were a coastal-dwelling people, engaged in fishing and trading. Many lived in a symbolic relationship with inland people, exchanging salt and salted fish for rice, sago and valueble jungle products. They in general did not build inland settlements in other parts of Sarawak. They moved into the area of Sibu from the west at about the same time as the Ibans who entered from the south. They continued their trade and took advantage of the riches of the virgin Rejang territory.

The Ibans

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At the opening of the 19th century, the Ibans we're largely living in the upriver areas of the Batang Lupar and Batang Saribas and their tributaries in the Second Division. In the first decade of the 19th century, group if Ibans families had begun to penetrate the headwaters of the Katibas and the Sarikei and by 1850, they had reached the vicinity of the Rejang.

Upon reaching the Rejang, the Ibans began the gradual ascent of other uninhabited tributaries felling and clearing the jungles, until they reached the headwaters of the branches to the north as well as to the south. Within the past century, they have become the most numerous groups in the Third Division.

The Melanaus

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Originally, the Rejang was the primary home to a scattered population of Melanaus and Segalangs in the delta region. Kanowits, Beliun and Tanjongs in the middle Rejang. The Melanaus shared certain similarities with the Kayans with whom they entered into aristocractic ("brave & rich") intermarriages. Their number was estimated at 30,000 in 1876. Their origin is uncertain. Following the coming of Islam, the Brunei hegemony spread around the coastal regions. The Brunei Malays furthur established their position through intermarriage between Brunei nobles and the daughters of Melanaus chiefs.

The Melanaus of the Middle and Lower Rejang were still longhouse dwellers and relatively untouched by the Brunei Malays and Islam at the time of James Brooke's arrival in Kuching. THey we're believed to be the earliest known inhabitants in Sibu District. There was a small Melanaus village at Kampung Nangka, a little way down the Igan River from Sibu Bazaar. Following the cession of Rejang area in the treaties of 1853 and 1861, the Melanaus gave up their longhouse domicile gradually and built individual houses arranged in kampungs similiar to the Malays.

The Chinese

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Business started in Sibu by the Hokkien since 1880. Three settlement projects were started off by Mr. Wong Nai Siong, Mr. Tang Kung Shook and Rev. William N. Brewster. When people from China heard about Sibu,  Foochow people migrated to Sibu to start a new life. Most of them in the early years work as labourers and blacksmiths. Some of them farmers and fisherman. When timber became an important products, most chinese started timber corporation. The lifesytle of the chinese in Sibu is similar to the other chinese in China. Historical chinese buildings are still standing until today which symbolises the lifestyle of Chinese in the past.


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Last Updated on Thursday, 30 September 2010 13:03  


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