December 27, 2011

Perang Si Gunting 1894 - 1901 (Gunting War)

I think most Sabahans have not heard of this North Borneo rebel named Gunting. Gunting was a Dusun warrior who led a rebellion against the British North Borneo Chartered Company (BNBCC) in what was to be known as the Gunting War or Perang Si Gunting which lasted for seven years from 1894 to 1901. 

Gunting's rebellion preceded another very much publicized rebel named Mat Salleh by about two years. The latter only started open hostility sometime in 1896 and was declared an outlaw by the BNBCC in August 1896. Whereas Mat Salleh rebelled to hold on to his rights to rule and collect tax, Si Gunting rebelled to hold on to his people's way of life.

Si Gunting was born in 1859 in Mumus which is now known as Serinsim, Kota Marudu. He died in 1905.
The catalyst of Gunting's rebellion was a marriage proposal! A company clerk asked for the hand of a Rungus maiden but refused to pay the required dowry in accordance to Rungus tradition. Here we can deduce that Si Gunting is a Rungus. We can safely assumed that the company clerk was a westerner.

Si Gunting registered his displeasure with the breach of custom to a Dato Undok, an appointed community leader of BNBCC who conveyed Si Gunting's displeasure to the company but fell on deaf ears. Si Gunting was incensed with BNBCC indifference and reacted by attacking a police post in Mumus with his followers. Seven Sikh policemen were killed in the attack and the clerk who had wanted the maiden for free was also killed.

From then on, Si Gunting and his followers became wanted men, pursued by the BNBCC. A.R. Dunlop was tasked to capture him. Si Gunting and his followers fortified themselves atop a hill in Sayap. When their fort was attacked, they retreated into the interior and continued their guerrilla warfare. Si Gunting managed to evade capture throughout his campaign.

BNBCC offered Si Gunting amnesty in exchange for him to cease his rebellion. Some said that Si Gunting felt that he was too old to continue his warfare. Hence, he accepted the company's offer. However, I find that the age factor is an unlikely cause for Si Gunting's surrendering, after all, he was only 42 years old when he surrendered. 
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