May 7, 2011

North Borneon Hero : Pak Musa

Not much is known about Pak Musa, or at least there's not much stories about him circulating.

Photo courtesy of KK Jabah bin Amat
Pak Musa fought the British North Borneo Company (BNBC) in Paitan during the colonial era of North Borneo. Paitan is an area located in Sandakan Division. Incidentally, there is an ethnic group called Patainic whom are better known as Orang Sungai. These group of people are found mainly along rivers such as Paitan river, Kinabatangan river and Segama river. 

The Orang Sungai embraced Islam sometime in the 15th century. Perhaps, Ong Sum Ping, the Chinese Muslim Raja of Kinabatangan played a role in their Islamimization.

Was Pak Musa an Orang Sungai? I've no idea because my source did not identify his ethnicity. The fact that he was from Paitan and he was a Muslim seem to point that he was an Orang Sungai but then some say he was a Murut. That is a possibility too because there are Muslim Murut also and Murut were also found in these area. However, the Orang Sungai and Murut share many common traits, it would be easy to confuse between them. Anyway, I will try to find out more when I have the opportunity and will update this post when I have definite answer to it. In the meanwhile, we'll just focus on Pak Musa. 

After fighting the British for 7 years, Pak Musa surrendered but he was not executed. However, he was banished from Paitan. The British wanted to rid of any belligerent element in that part of North Borneo and perhaps also to separate Pak Musa from his followers. Hence, stripping him of his power base. 

Pak Musa decided to move to the West Coast of North Borneo and the British obliged by providing a ship for his journey. Pak Musa and his entourage landed in Jesselton or what is now present day Kota Kinabalu. Pak Musa and his entourage which include his wife, Mualas, Sulaiman, Musit Selair and Absar, made their way from Jesselton towards the Southern Interior of North Borneo. 

In their search for their new home, they stayed in a few places including Papar but it seemed that they didn't like these places. Pak Musa finally decided to settle in a place called Kuala Sungai Angitan in Membakut, which is present day sub-district in the district of Beaufort. The place they settled down is now known as Kampung Bambangan, taking its name from the bambangan tree.

7 years later, after finding their new home and settled down, Pak Musa went back to Paitan to bring his other kin to Bambangan. Those that followed him back were Nailih Mandut, Tikon Mandut, Kuloi, Tutung, Majir Panjang, Amboi, Diah, Ower, Atong, Arat Maning and Salleh Tabatu. Some of the folks at Kampung Bambangan in present day are their descendants. I personally know of a gardener who is a descendant of this group. One can be certain that these group were Pak Musa's trusted kin and fought alongside with him. 

Besides fighting the British, Pak Musa is also credited with fighting the Japanese. He was believed to have shown extraordinary power during these fights. Among his power it was said:
  • he could jump across a 200 feet wide river at Sungai Kanibungan, Sandakan; and
  • he once stopped a moving train in Membakut.
It is also said that Pak Musa had a child with black tongue but the child passed away. Perhaps, attributing him with having mystical super power. They say Pak Musa did not die but instead he mysteriously vanished and no one knows where he is to this day. 

Today, there is a Hall in the town of Beaufort dedicated to him and it is named Dewan Pa Musa.

Source :
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