Chapter 4


(1840 每 1850)


         The kongsi society in West Borneo underwent great changes in the period between 1840 and 1850. These changes manifested themselves in three areas: in the first place the structure of the economy within the kongsis changed from one primarily based on mining to one in which agriculture, industry, and trade all played important roles. In the second place, the social structure of the kongsis became more defined. The power of the local headmen increased and with it the gradual formation of a class of locally born Chinese; this process induced a change in the leadership of the kongsis. In the third place, the growing influence of the Dutch colonial authorities, which sought to destroy the Heshun zongting of Montrado, and which later also brought the kongsis of Lumar and Budok under their control by means of military force, became steadily entrenched.

     The decline of the number of independent kongsis of West Borneo has been blamed on their ever more serious conflicts over the exploitation of the minefields and their worsening relation with the Dayaks. Although this is not incorrect, it is only one of many factors that brought influence to bear on the structure and function of the kongsis. At the time when the mining activity had reached its peak, it precluded the undertaking of other activities; later when it declined, these other activities assumed greater importance. The upshot of this process was that agriculture and trading exercised a mounting importance in the life of the kongsis. Indubitably, there is room to speculate that if left alone 每 and especially if a free trade zone had been installed as had been the plan at one time of the Dutch Minister of Colonies 每 the kongsi society of West Borneo would have developed into a full grown and flourishing overseas Chinese community.

     De Groot has argued that the major cause of the decline of the kongsis at West Borneo was that the Chinese lost their freedom of government under Dutch rule. When the Dutch used military force in order to transform the zongting political structure into a ※Chinese District§, this culminated in a large part of the population leaving and settling elsewhere in South East Asia, and with this exodus the age of the Chinese republics came to a close. The time has come to look at these causes and effects in more detail.


The Decline of Mining and the Development of Agriculture and Trade

        Comparing Jackson*s maps of the gold-mines in West Borneo in 1775 with one produced three-quarters of a century later in 1850, we see quite clearly how in a period of seventy-five years the areas opened up for exploitation had dramatically increased. The country around Montrado especially had completely used up. We do not have any precise data on the output of the Chinese mines at the time. We may suppose that only a small part of their yield was taken back to the homeland by Chinese miners and that the bulk entered the trading circuits of Singapore and Java, or was put back into the local economy of West Borneo. Of course, much of the export and import trade was free, as it went through Pontianak and Sambas, and therefore difficult to register. From the figures available, however, the decline during the second quarter of the nineteenth century becomes clear.

     Tobias estimated the annual export of gold from West Borneo in 1822 amounted to approximately four million guilders. On the basis of the prevailing exchange rates, this came to some one hundred thousand troy ounces. He states that this figure had been much higher two or three decades earlier. Tobias does not give us figures any more precise than these.[1]According to an estimate made by Raffles for the year 1810, the gold export equalled around three hundred and fifty thousand troy ounces in that year, so more than three times as much! [2] Between 1830 and 1840 the export figures dropped drastically. Generally they produced no more than thirty to forty thousand troy ounces in any one year. [3] In spite of this dramatic decrease which apparently, in some twenty-five years, pulled the yield of the West Borneo mines down ninety percent to one tenth of its former output, we should not jump to the conclusion that such a decline in the gold-mining industry brought about the downfall of the entire economy of the Chinese communities. First of all, the figures are by no means reliable. Raffles* estimate was made at a time when there was free trade and no taxes, so there was no need to hide any figures. The Dutch attempted to impose taxes on a great number of things, and consequently time and again we see that the Chinese report completely erroneous figures on matters concerning their economy, their population, and their army. If the full situation is taken into consideration the above-mentioned figures can therefore not be trusted at all.

     Another important factor is that, once the monopoly which the Malays held on trade and provisions was lifted, the economic activities of the Chinese kongsis were no longer restricted to mining alone. As we have seen, even at a very early stage in the evolution of the Chinese inland settlements, some communities like the Tiandihui and the Lanfanghui were already engaged in farming. After the establishment of the two great zongtings at Montrado and Mandor, they too made a major contribution to the development of agriculture in West Borneo. Towards the middle of the nineteenth century these agricultural activities experienced a big upswing, as many of those who had formerly worked in the mines now turned to agriculture. [4] 

     Pamangkat, which is situated near the mouth of the River Sambas, was originally an area of swamps. In the 1820s, when the Santiaogou kongsi left Montrado, it developed Pamangkat region and built irrigation networks so as to make the land suitable for agriculture. As Doty and Pohlman observed in 1838 its agricultural population had already increased to over one thousand. [5] Major A.J. Andresen reports that in the territory of the Dagang kongsi, from Djintan to Singkawang, all the way along the coast, stretched one continuous sea of rice fields. In 1851 the Chinese agricultural population of this area reached over four thousand. [6] Right up to the present day these areas are still called ※the granary of West Borneo§.[7] Chinese agricultural settlements in the interior of Sambas were comparatively small and widely scattered. As was mentioned in passing earlier the following areas were cultivated by Chinese farmers: Durial, Tatap, and Semalah to the north of Montrado; Taokwo, Minghuang, and Boolen between Montrado and Mandor. [8] Banyaoya, Baimangtou, Sibale, Shuilonggui 每 lying between Montrado and Lara 每 were originally brought under cultivation by members of the Santiaogou kongsi. [9]

     According to Schaank, the Lanfang mining kongsi actually grew out of the agricultural organization of Lanfanghui. Therefore Mandor was not only the location of the mine, but in its vicinity were there a large number of agricultural fields which had been brought under cultivation by the kongsi. Tayan and Sanggau, situated along the Great Kapuas River, were founded in the 1790*s, at the time of Luo Fangbo, by Wu Yuansheng, the ※second brother§ of the Lanfang kongsi, together with his Dayak wife, his sons, and a number of the Hakka people. [10] They began by working a small gold-mine but when its production proved to be disappointingly small, they took up agriculture, and started to engage in small-scale trading activities. When they moved further east to Sintang, again they first tried their hand at mining for gold but later turned to agriculture. Enthoven reports that right until the very end of the nineteenth century Nibung Serbu and Telok Kumpai 每 in the area of Pontianak - continued to be major Chinese farming settlements. [11]

     The rice fields of Borneo are divided into two kinds: dry fields (ladang) and wet fields (sawah). Those fields opened up in the forested areas of the interior are nearly all dry fields. Along the rivers and in the delta in Singkawang and Pamangkat wet fields prevail. Profiting from the irrigation techniques of the Chinese at the time of the kongsis, many waste areas were turned into wet fields. Here rice was the main crop. On many of the dry fields opened up in the densely forested areas, fruit trees and vegetables were grown, along with dry rice. [12] There are few sources available which cast any light on the ownership of the grounds worked by the Chinese farmers. Before the Dutch asserted their authority and exercised their claim to all the available land, the farmers paid some duties to the kongsi, which reciprocated by offering them protection. The farmers were, as far as it is possible to ascertain, comparatively free to sell, trade, re-rent, and to bequeath their fields. It would seem fair to say that the ownership of the land was not very stable. After 1854, when the Dutch colonial authorities established direct control over the &Chinese District* of Montrado, the ownership of the land was transferred to the Dutch. The Chinese now had to pay the Dutch authorities rent.

     The Cultivation System was never imposed on Borneo and Chinese farmers did not have to grow special cash crops for their colonial overlords. Experiments with setting up coffee and sugar plantations were undertaken as early as the 1820s, especially in the region of Sambas. During the same period, Tobias and Zhu Fenghua initiated a coffee plantation scheme for the region of Lara as a means to settle the Dayak population which was put to work there. These plantations, as we have seen, were abolished by Dagang when it took control over the area in 1825.[13]

     The Chinese of West Borneo did not work as coolies on  plantations, but were independent small farmers. The most important crops at the time of the kongsis were rice, sugar-cane, vegetables, and fruits. [14] The agricultural activities of the Chinese farmers greatly stimulated the local economy, which grew much faster than the economy in South-East Borneo, which shared similar economic conditions, but lacked a comparable stimulus from Chinese economic activities. [15]

     In the 1830s Sambas and Pontianak were declared free ports. Previous to the taking of this step, the Dutch had attempted to levy a tax of 12 percent on all imported goods, but this had never worked. It was simultaneously decreed that all ships arriving from abroad had to pass through these two harbours. This was an attempt to safeguard the Dutch monopoly on the trade in opium and salt. Sedau 湘誠, Singkawang, Sepang, and Pamangkat, which were the major Chinese kongsi harbours situated in between the ports controlled by the Dutch, were closed.

     Ships that entered the harbour had only to pay anchorage dues (ankeragie geld), and had therefore to report to the office of the harbour authorities at the entrance (de boom). The Chinese traders from Borneo apparently hated being obliged to do so. The kongsi vessels plied the coastal waters under the Dutch flag, which inevitably required payment of the appropriate dues. The policy was reconfirmed later by Donker in 1841, who was at that time Dutch Commissioner of West Borneo. He was fairly favourably impressed by the readiness of the Chinese to acknowledge the Dutch flag wherever they settled or traded. The showing of the Dutch flag, originally meant to impress on the Chinese that they were Dutch subjects and had therefore to pay poll tax, was now used by the Chinese themselves to indicate their vessels had Dutch nationality. Thus Chinese vessels, flying the Dutch colours embellished with Chinese characters (!), freely entered the harbour of Pontianak, never bothering to heave to the entrance tollgate (boom). On March 2,1843, just such a ship with several Chinese from the Santiaogou kongsi at Sepang entered the harbour of Pontianak. The ship did not slacken speed, in spite of the cries and shouts of the toll-house officers. Shortly afterwards Dutch soldiers stopped the vessel. Infuriated the Chinese argued that since they flew the Dutch flag they did not have to pay any duties. Protesting loudly and vociferously they proceeded to the office of the Assistant-Resident Baumgardt and, in spite of attempts by the policemen on the premises to restrain them, burst into his room in order to give vent to their indignation by throwing the flag in his face. This insult was suffered quietly. The irate Chinese were calmed down with kind words and persuaded to take the flag back. The case was reported but no answer was ever forthcoming. This was how such a situation was handled in the period of the ※system of non-interference§. [16]

     A number of foreign traders, attracted by the profits to be gained from West Borneo, tried to establish trading contacts with the Chinese in the area, disregarding the opposition by the Dutch colonial authorities.[17] The import and export trade of Pontianak was entirely in the hands of Chinese, but the major flow of capital came from great Chinese traders in Singapore. Fortune did not smile on the attempts of the Dutch to stimulate trade between West Borneo and Java. [18] Trade in the interior, like the transportation of forest products, was a purely Chinese enterprise. From the scale and prosperity of the Chinese quarter in Pontianak it is possible to deduce how much the Chinese profited from these activities. [19] They dominated the river transportation system, whereas the Malays and Bugis earned great profits from the coconut palm plantations along the boards of the Kapan River. [20] Chinese were also to be found at Tayan, Sanggau, Sintang and other Dayak settlements even further inland. The majority of these Chinese traders lived on their boats on the great rivers.[21]


Table 10: The taxes of the bazaar of Montrado between 1839-1850


Article/ Duration/ Price



5 pigs/ 1 day / fl. 5

the captain, xiansheng and tingzhu might share this tax


1 catty rice    /   1 duit

1 catty dry fish/ 1 duit

everyone from Singkawang to the bazaar of Montrado (for selling his things) had to pay 5 duit



large one/ month/ fl.8

small one/ month/ fl.4

there were 24 private distilleries in Montrado


large table/month/fl.24 small table/month/fl.20

there were 10 gambling dens in Montrado, the captain and tingzhu shared this tax


1 person/month/fl./1-6

there were about 1200 private miners in Montrado


1 person/month/fl.4-12

This refers to small-scale opium selling. By paying this tax, everyone might sell opium in Montrado.


1 farmer/year/fl.2

620 farmers in Montrado had to pay it

house tax

1 house/year/fl.1


enterprise tax

1 unit/year/fl.1-32

There were 600 traders and artisans to pay it but the farmers were exempt.

poll tax




wild pig/ 40duit

deer/ 60 duit




Imports included many articles. Annually about 750,000 kilograms of rice was imported into Singkawang.



Some Dayaks tribes, for instance, that of Gouwangyou, Malisen, Sang-king, and Sungai Duri, had to pay the tax to the kongsis. Their headmen could share it.



This depended on the different circumstances. For example, every one had to pay 26.70 guilders in 1864.

Source: Schaank, pp. 100-105.

       The development of the trading economy was also boosted by the gold yielded by the mines, a considerable amount of which functioned as capital to be invested in the Chinese commercial network in South East Asia, while another part of which was used to purchase commodities necessary for survival in West Borneo. [22] In the Malay towns of Sambas and Pontianak there were also several hundred Chinese engaged in trade or handicrafts. [23] However, Mandor, the centre of the Lanfang kongsi, and Montrado, the location of the Heshun zongting, were considered to be the centres of commerce by their contemporaries [24] where all kinds of products were displayed in the shops of the bazaar.[25] At the market of Montrado, five pigs were killed each day to supply the people with meat, and there were no less than twenty-four private distilleries! A table of the local taxes levied by the zongting in 1850, on the eve of the war, gives an insight into its economic activities.

    There are numerous examples of the way the mining kongsis diversified into other economic activities. In 1847, the Lanfang kongsi, for instance, started to dig for diamonds at Bonan 恅帗 (in Landak) [26], for iron at Tayan[27], and reaped large profits from its copper-mine at Mandor [28]. The vicinity of Bengkayang, the bazaar of  Lara, had been originally mined for gold by the Dagang kongsi. Around 1840 hardly any gold was left to be excavated and the local Chinese started to grow soya beans. The doufu industry became the most important processing industry at Bengkayang. It supplied the miners of Salinse and Pakok. [29] The shipyards at Pontianak and the saw-mills of Kampong Baru all proved quite profitable Chinese enterprises in the second half of the nineteenth century. [30] Sebangau, situated between Singkawang and Sambas, has remained a centre for building small wooden ships up to the present day. [31]Iron-working, market gardens, distilleries [jiulang], gambling halls, opium-dens all occupied places of greater or lesser importance within the kongsi society.[32] Besides them, it also had an effect on the development of the local gold and silver industry, as well as on Dayak shipbuilding industry.[33]

     The long and short of it is that during the 1860s, the Dutch colonial authorities derived more income from all these various economic activities pursued by the Chinese than from the actual gold-mines (see Table 11). The duties on gold-mining in the period between 1860 and 1862 from the area which had originally belonged to Heshun zongting 每 i. e. Montrado*s new Chinese districts (including Montrado, Singkawang, Lara, Lumar, Budok) 每 amounted to 68,952 guilders, about one-ninth of the duties on opium.

Table 11: The taxes of Montrado, Singkawang, Lara, Lumar, and Budok in 1860-1862













Gambling houses










































Sources: M. von Faber, ※Schets van Montrado in 1861§, pp. 471-472.


The Transformation of the Kongsi Society and Ethnic Strife

     With the change in economic circumstances, kongsi society also entered a new stage of development. Changes occurred at all levels within the kongsis. The influence of several highly respected and wealthy headmen (or toujia) and laoda grew enormously, and the administration of the zongting increasingly devolved into their hands. Each of the great clans extended their influence to the top of their bent. Not only did they attempt to control the election of the headmen of the mines of the kongsis, but they also appointed family members and good friends to offices in the kongsis and the mines. [34] They even sometimes obtained the power to discharge a captain or Jiatai, which they did, for instance, in the cases of Xie Xiang (1839 -1843) and Zhu Lai (1843 -1845) of the Heshun zongting. The situation in the Lanfang kongsi was very similar. Liu Tai*er (1823 -1837) was a very powerful Jiatai, but when he acted against the will of the members, they locked him up for several days. [35] He wanted Xie Guifang to succeed him, but ※the headmen in office were divided: some wanted to promote him and some did not, and therefore Gu Liubo (1837-1842) was promoted to the office of Jiatai§. [36] Later, after Gu Liubo*s defeat in the battle against the Dayaks of Landak, the same headmen, who were now disappointed in their choice, discharged him during his term of office.

    Inexorably, the influence of the Dutch colonial authorities increased as well. During the kongsi-war period, the Dutch appointed a regent as leader of the kongsi of Montrado but the old administration of the kongsi was still present, and both parties clashed continuously. With the support of the Dutch authorities Liu Asheng, the last Jiatai of the Lanfang kongsi, became a man of great influence. Liu Asheng was so powerful, that he appointed his own son as his successor, instead of having a successor elected by the vote of the people of the kongsi. This had never happened before in the history of the kongsis in Borneo.

    There were many different strata among the settlers in the kongsi territory. The kongsi miners held a much higher position than the miners in the private mines or the farmers. This was exhibited in the greater influence they exercised in the election of the headmen. Because of the continuous wars being waged during this period, the burden on the commoners 每 like small traders, artisans, farmers, and shopkeepers 每 was very heavy. They had no chance to escape having to pay enterprise taxes and the poll tax, and they also had to make extra contributions because of the war. This led to unremitting tension with the kongsi miners. [37]

     There was also tension between the xinke and the bantangfan.[38] The generation born of the marriages between Chinese miners and Dayak women were looked down upon in the kongsi. Their position was much lower than that of the Chinese who had come from the eastern parts of Guangdong. They were not allowed to become the headman of the kongsi. This generated and nurtured a constant conflict between the two groups of Chinese. Out of the necessity in the later part of the kongsi period the second-generation migrant Chinese organized themselves to protect themselves.[39]

     The relations among the kongsis underwent changes as well. After 1840, of all the powerful kongsis only Dagang of Montrado, Santiaogou of Sepang, Seminis and Pamangkat, and Lanfang of Mandor remained. Of the smaller organizations only the Lintian kongsi of Budok and the Shiwufen kongsi of Lumar survived. The relations between Dagang and Santiaogou shifted from friendly to hostile. In 1849, after he had visited the sultan of Sambas Guan Zhiyin, the headman of the Dagang kongsi, passed through Pamangkat on his way back home. The people of the Santiaogou kongsi treated him to a meal. Not long after this, he fell ill and died. It was suggested that the Santiaogou kongsi had poisoned him, fearing his influence as a youthful and able leader who had established good relations with the sultan. [40] This incident increased the tension in the already complicated relations between the two kongsis, and was to play a negative role in the war between Dagang and the Dutch colonial authorities which erupted in 1850.

     The conflicts between the kongsis and the indigenous Dayaks, the inevitable outcome of the mining and land development, did not abate. As Dagang expanded its activities in the Lara region, the gold-diggers among the Dayaks seethed with discontent, with the encouragement of the Malay rulers who also had their own axe to grind. Soon they started killing those among the Chinese who lived in isolated houses and out-of-the-way places. Although the kongsis repeatedly brought these incidents to the attention of the sultan and the Dutch colonial authorities, they were not given any satisfaction. As a result, the ethnic conflict steadily grew more violent. The final part of the Xianshi gushi describes this very problem:

     Toward the ninth of the tenth month of the cyclical year xinchuo 釓堯 (1841), the Dayaks in Xipai and Sanxi of Lara district went on a killing spree. There were Chinese houses situated in the lonely forests, and when the people walked along the paths they were often killed by the Dayaks. As a result, the people no longer dared to walk abroad. When the Dagang kongsi heard this, its people became very angry. If those beastly Dayaks were not all killed, the Chinese would not be able to stay there in peace. The war chiefs were ordered to go to the village of Xipai with 250 soldiers and take up quarters in the distillery. Then they sent a letter to the great Shangwu kongsi of Montrado, asking for an army in order to capture the malevolent Dayaks.

      In 1842 a Chinese by the name of Zeng Qi was killed with his entire family and all his belongings taken, just as he was preparing to return to China. This murder coincided with a period of continuous clashes between the miners of the Shiwufen kongsi at Lumar and the Dayaks. Wishing to end this situation, the Shiwufen kongsi united itself with Dagang and together they prepared an armed force that marched on Tappa and exterminated all the Dayaks who lived there. [41]

     The Lanfang kongsi was also confronted with constant friction with the Dayaks at Landak. In the year 1841 and again in the year 1846 the Lanfang kongsi, under the leadership of the Jiatai Gu Liubo and Liu Qianxing, fought regular wars with the Dayaks at Landak. Many perished and a great amount of money was spent in these ventures. At the end of the two wars, there was no alternative but to ask the sultan of Pontianak to mediate. The Chronicle of Lanfang Kongsi dates the beginning of the decline of this once so mighty institution from these Landak wars. With the situation so out of joint, the Jiatai Ye Tenghui (1843-1845) and Liu Qianxing (1845-1848) no longer fulfilled their office in the traditional way, but conducted their affairs from their own shops, instead of residing at the zongting. From this time onwards the Lanfang kongsi grew weaker by the day, the zongting fell into disrepair, and the population declined. As we can see from Table 6, during the 108 years of the kongsi*s existence, there were thirteen headmen. Among these, two held consecutive terms in office, and so they stayed in charge for almost a decade each. During the troubled period of 1837 to 1848, however, no less than four different Jiatai succeeded each other, thereby illustrating that at that time the great Lanfang kongsi, just like its neighbours from Montrado, was undergoing a period of great turbulence and change.

     During this period, the relationship between the immigrants as a group, the indigenous people, and the Malay rulers grew increasingly complicated. This was the time in which James Brooke was working to carve out his niche in Sarawak, and he called upon the Dayaks of Sanggau and Sintang to engage in trade with his quasi-kingdom. The relationship between the chiefs 每 Malay as well as Dayak 每 from the interior of Borneo with Sarawak grew so close that some Pangerans even went so far as to mortgage their land holdings to the Sarawak kingdom so as to raise money. [42] Indeed, many of the sultanates were in serious financial trouble, and some turned to the Dutch colonial authorities for help. The Dutch were inclined to blame the steadily strengthening independent stance of the Chinese miners and their kongsis as one of the reasons for the impoverishment of the Malay sultans, reasoning that the latter in turn received less and less for the mining concessions. [43] The Dutch records mention, for instance, that in 1847 the Chinese at Lara levied a kind of ※tampah§ tax[44] on the Dayaks living in that region. This would imply that the Chinese already regarded themselves as the masters of that territory. The Dutch were afraid lest the government could not salvage these little chieftainships, sooner or later they would fall under the effective authority of the kongsis. [45] These misgivings greatly stimulated the interest of the Dutch in West Borneo region and prompted them to take a series of new measures.

     In 1847, the authorities decided to send the civil servants at Sambas and Pontianak on a inspection tour. They seized the opportunity to visit Montrado. In 1848, the Dutch renewed their alliance with the newly enthroned Sultan of Sambas, reiterating the treaty signed in 1819 which ceded all authority in Sambas to the Dutch. All this exacerbated a situation which was already virtually at boiling point and in 1850 an all-out war with the kongsis of the Heshun zongting followed.


The Opium Smuggling Incident at Sedau

      The history of the West Borneo kongsis now reaches a major turning point. During the preceding period, in spite of continuous altercations with the other actors in the region, there had never been a major conflict. The Chinese communities had developed and prospered, while gradually undergoing an internal evolution from an emigrant group in a frontier society to a sedentary agricultural and manufacturing community. This evolution would certainly have continued if an end had not been made to the policy of non-interference that had been inaugurated in 1825, making way for a far more assertive and aggressive policy in the buitengewesten.

     In a speech at the ceremony of transfer of his office to his successor Duymaer van Twist, in 1851, the departing Governor-General, Rochussen announced that the knell had sounded for laisser-faire in West Borneo and that the Dutch authority, especially in regards to the Chinese seekers of gold and fortune (※goud en gelukzoekers§), was to be strongly enforced. [46] This statement was made with explicit reference to the situation in West Borneo.

     The new era of confrontation was opened by the arrival in Pontianak of F.J. Willer as Resident of West Borneo. His chief assignment seems to have been to eradicate the kongsi problem once and for all, and first and foremost to make the Chinese to pay poll tax, which James Brook had succeeded in wresting from them in Sarawak. Willer, who was to play such a prominent role in the destruction of the kongsis, appears to have personally liked the Chinese a great deal.[47] However, soon after his arrival, an initial incident with the Chinese gave him the opportunity to show the change of attitude of the Dutch government. The incident in question was the smuggling case at Sedau.

      The port of Sedau is situated between Sungai Raya and Singkawang. The members of the Dagang kongsi had established a mine at Djintan [48], about half an hour*s walk from this port. At the mine they had set up a kongsi house. Both Sedau and Singkawang were the major ports used by the Dagang kongsi for overseas and inland trade and transport.

According to the Annual Report of the Dutch colonial authorities at Sambas for the year 1850, smuggling was rife in West Borneo. The majority of the putative contraband 每 consisting of opium, salt, arms, gunpowder, and foodstuffs 每 was imported by the Dagang kongsi which collaborated with Fujian and Chaozhou merchants from Singapore. The Dutch had already sold the monopoly on the opium trade to Pangeran Ratoe Toewa Negara, the brother of the sultan of Sambas, while retaining for themselves the monopoly on the trade in salt and rice. Smuggling, therefore, not only harmed the pockets of the Malay rulers, it also had a detrimental influence on the income of the Dutch. In February 1850 the Pangeran Ratoe discovered twenty-five boxes of opium, forty koyans[49] of salt, and 400 barrels of gunpowder aboard of a small Chinese vessel [50], which was sailing from Singkawang to Sedau. He then sent a confidential advisor, Amat, to investigate the set-up at Djintan, and to spy on the chief of the smugglers, a certain Lin San*an[51]. The local Chinese discovered and killed this spy. [52]

     Furious, the Pangeran Ratoe went to see the Assistant-Resident of Sambas to complain that his profits on opium were being seriously reduced by this kind of smuggling. He asked the colonial authorities to take matters into their own hands. On February 28, 1850, the Assistant-Resident sent a letter to the Dagang kongsi in which he demanded that the crew and the goods aboard the vessel were to be handed over to him. On top of this he imposed a fine of three hundred taëls of gold (approx. twenty thousand guilders) on the kongsi. On March 4, the Dagang kongsi sent a letter in reply, in which they declared that the only merchandise aboard the ship consisted of four or five picul of gunpowder, which was used in the mine, and that they did not know anything about a ship carrying opium. [53]

     This incident persuaded the newly appointed Resident, Willer, to pursue a new policy in the matter of smuggling. He considered it unwise to use military force against the smugglers, as the Assistant-Resident had done: the colonial authorities had only a small number of patrol boats at their disposal, and two bentengs; Pontianak had a garrison of three officers and one-hundred-and-three soldiers; Sambas two officers and eighty-one soldiers. Operating independently, both of these units received their orders from the military headquarters in Batavia; the Resident of the local government, the head of the civil authorities at West Borneo, had no direct authority over them. [54] Willer therefore considered that he did not have the wherewithal to deal with the matter by means of military force. He decided to install a blockade at the entrance of the port of Sedau and keep it under close observation, ensuring that the ship could not depart. He simultaneously ordered the captain and the crew of the vessel to be sent to Sambas to be punished.

     On April 30, a group of representatives of Dagang made their way to Pontianak, where they demanded that the blockade be lifted and that the controversial vessel be allowed to leave. They declared that the Dagang kongsi was not engaged in any smuggling activities, and that 每 if the authorities at Sambas informed the kongsi about any vessels engaged in smuggling 每 it would arrest them itself. [55] Unmoved the Resident replied that he would abide by his original decision, but that he would punish the offenders leniently if they were brought before him by the kongsi itself. [56]

     Shortly after this Willer took the following measures: he ordered the military commanders at Sambas and Pontianak to assist him in seizing the vessel; [57] he sent a letter to Batavia, in which he asked for reinforcements and warships to be sent to blockade the seaports of the areas under authority of the kongsis. Because he was very well aware that Batavia would never send any troops to West Borneo to deal with one Chinese smuggling vessel alone, Willer also stressed the fact that there had been an English vessel at Sedau.[58] His most important aim was to control or, if necessary, destroy the harbour at Pamangkat which was situated near the mouth of the River Sambas, north of Sedau, since it was in the hands of the Chinese. He was convinced that if he did not take such measures, in time this would certainly give rise to serious problems for the Dutch colonial Resident at Sambas, owing to the strategic location of this port.

     At the end of May 1850, two vessels, the frigate the Rijn and the steamship the Tjipanas, which had originally been commissioned to go to Guangzhou in China, arrived West Borneo. Willer agreed with the captain of the frigate and the ruler of Sambas that they would use their military force against the kongsi in the following manner: the frigate would remain in West Borneo waters for the duration of eight days; the Malay sultans would send troops who were to bolster the paltry number of Dutch troops. [59]

     On June 5, 1850, the Rijn and the Tjipanas anchored at Sedau. The next day Willer, the Assistant-Resident of Sambas, and the captain of the frigate went ashore for what they described in their own words as ※peaceful negotiations§. They reiterated the demand that the Chinese hand over that &smuggling vessel*. The kongsi of Djintan, which fell under the authority of Dagang, requested a recess of two days, because they wanted to ask for permission from their leaders at Montrado. They invited the Resident to come to their fortress (kubu) the next day in order to negotiate peacefully but the Dutch refused to comply.[60] 

     Instead, the next day, that is June 7, at noon, the Dutch troops approached the Chinese fortress, ※with peaceful intentions§. According to their own words, this peaceful advance was met with ※treacherous gunshots§. Willer*s part was to lead the fleet, composed of several kinds of vessels, including the Rijn, as well as 500 men sent by the sultan of Sambas upstream, where they landed on the right bank of Sedau, with the purpose of capturing the smuggling vessel. After the Chinese had opened fire, the fight lasted only half an hour, as the Malay auxiliaries immediately took to their heels. The Dutch lost one man and suffered three injured. The Chinese had eight dead and eleven wounded. The Dutch fired from their patrol boats and these were relieved by the landing craft of the frigate the Rijn. A detachment for fort Sambas, which had been added to the expeditionary forces at the last moment, also went into action. The frigate the Rijn itself however did not fire one single shot. The Dutch were beaten back and were forced to retreat to the mouth of the river, ※as the general desertion of the coolies and auxiliary (Malay) troops necessitated a reorganization.§ Afterwards ※the assault was not renewed§ as the locals, the commoners as well as the leaders, 每 in fact the sultan of Sambas 每 had no desire to taste the Chinese fire once more.[61] Willer returned to Sambas, and the Rijn and the Tjipanas left for Guangzhou to carry out the tasks to which they had originally been assigned.[62]

     The display of force by the Dutch armed forces on the coast of West Borneo had quite clearly not yielded the results that Willer had hoped for. What it did do was to mark unequivocally the point of departure from the policy of non-interference. Willer using the opium smuggling incident as a pretext, declared that the Chinese were insubordinate, that English were poised to extend their control over Borneo and a host of such excuses. He had also hoped that he could have used the eight-day presence of a sea force to subdue the kongsi. Although he did not succeed, the incident at Sedau in May and June 1850 definitely tilted the Dutch colonial authorities more rigorously towards a policy of subduing all of the kongsis of West Borneo by means of force. The Sedau incident was felt to be a set-back, especially for the military. As explicitly stated in the orders given to Lieutenant-Colonel Sorg when he was sent to West Borneo (see hereunder): ※The recent events on the River Sedau, where our arms have been humiliated, have given proof that the measure of evil is now full (het kwaad ten boorde toe vol is); this has induced us to make projects in order to put an end to this state of affairs.§ [63]

     The military authorities in Batavia considered that ※the Chinese population in West Borneo is large in number and brave, and does not seem to lack a lust for war. We have reached the point at which it must be decided whether or not we will be able to maintain our authority. And we should not forget that our negotiations are being watched from Singapore, and are also subject to the pressure of a large power§.[64] In the instructions to Lieutenant-Colonel Sorg there is even a specification that: ※if one relies on the history of recent times, one cannot but be astonished at the boldness of the Chinese. Accustomed as one may be to consider the nature of this people cowardly, one has to admit that those in Borneo constitute an exception, as a result of their institutions and also their numerical superiority.§[65]

     Ever vigilant about security, the Dutch authorities feared that the independence manifested by the Chinese at West Borneo would influence the attitudes of Chinese elsewhere in the colony. In Java, for instance, it would have a negative effect on their reputation among the other Europeans and the local rulers. Even the loyalty of the sultans of West Borneo could no longer been relied upon. [66] The rumours that Dagang kongsi would attack Sambas with a force of 6000 soldiers, which began to circulate after the incidents at Sedau and Djintan, also worked on their nerves: were Sambas to fall into the hands of Dagang, Dutch colonial rule in West Borneo would come to an end.[67] It is remarkable that some of the Dutch leaders involved did not hesitate to compare the situation in West Borneo to that in Formosa (Taiwan) some 200 years earlier, when the Chinese under Koxinga (Zheng Chenggong) had expelled the Dutch colonists and traders. As General-Major Penning Nieuwland put it in a note to the Governor-General concerning the peace talks with the Chinese in 1851: If these conditions are accepted... then it may come to the point that we, as over Formosa, will write a Neglected Borneo.[68] At that time we may then again, for the glory of the Dutch nation, laud another Hambroek [69], but just like Formosa, we will have lost Borneo to the Chinese!§[70]

     Once the die was cast, it was time to develop a strategy. As Langelaan has shown, in some places it was thought that the subjugation of Montrado would not necessarily be unbeneficial to the colony*s revenues: its land was rich and yielded good harvests, the costs incurred would later on be well repaid, since the territory would come under the direct control of the Dutch authorities. [71] The only matter which needed thorough consideration was that ※we need to destroy the kongsi as an autonomous governmental institution§. [72] The Dutch authority was of the opinion that West Borneo had become a liability (lastpost) to the Dutch authorities simply because of the presence of the kongsis. [73] The military department stated that military means should be used to gain ※honour§ and profit for the Dutch, if not the colony of West-Borneo might as well be given away to another country. [74] In the summer of 1850 it ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Sorg to notify the authorities in West Borneo of their wishes concerning the kongsis: ※He was to hold secret discussions with the Resident and the Assistant-Resident about the means that should be used to force the Chinese to obedience, to settle ourselves at Montrado 每 the capital city on Borneo*s West Coast 每 in order to bring the Chinese population under our laws, upheld by European officials and protected by military might. ※ [75]  This was not seen as having to progress beyond the discussion stage at that time, but eventually could be accomplished at some future date. For the time being, Sorg*s most explicit duty was to re-establish the situation as it had been previous to the hapless expedition to the Sedau River under Willer*s impulsive leadership (※Het oogmerk resumeert zich, aanvankelijk, in de herstelling van het status quo§)[76]. History would decide otherwise.


The Battle of Pamangkat

      For the Dutch the events on the Sedau River may have been momentous and have had a lasting impact. Apparently, Dagang did not consider it to be any more than of passing interest. The ship accused of smuggling departed, but its general assembly decided to pay the fine or at least part of it. Schaank reports they offered 160 taëls of gold.[77] In a letter to the military commander which appears to have been intercepted and never reached its destination (see below), Dagang writes:

※We (kongsis) are of the opinion that the world should be free of troubles; because of the fortification of Sambas there have always been friendly relations between the Malays, the Chinese, and other (nations).§

※However, without our knowledge in the first month of the Chinese year, owing to adverse winds (or strong winds), a ship (prahu) entered the River Sedau, which after a stay of one or two days sailed out from this river again in secret.§

※Montrado is located at a distance of about the journey of a day and a night*s travel from Sedau; it is therefore only possible to receive at the one location any news from the other after this amount of time has elapsed; we therefore only received tidings and the arrival of departure of the ship in question, without having seen it with our own eyes.§

※Several days later we received orders from the Assistant-Resident and the Pangeran Ratoe to deliver the sampan pukat, along with a fine of three hundred taëls of gold.§

※We objected to this order, yet called together a meeting in order to discuss the matter, in which it was decided to obey it.§

※There was, however, a man named Zhu Ahao (Tjoe Ahou), from the kongsi Santiaogou[78] who played a mean trick, because he intercepted in agreement with the Chinese captain, Alu (A Loek), all my (our) letters.§

※In the meantime the Resident of Pontianak refused to exercise any patience. He brought a steamboat and hundreds of men. He blockaded all the rivers and committed inimical acts of animosity. How were we, small people, to survive!§[79]

      This clears up any doubt about the fact that after the incident at Sedau, Dagang tried to settle the question of the &smuggling boats* peacefully. Schaank also reports that at the time Dagang sent a messenger with a letter addressed to the sultan of Sambas, in which it declared that they were prepared to pay the fine demanded by the Dutch to prevent an outbreak of hostilities, even though it was not aware of the presence of any opium in the vessel concerned. Later on Dagang sent another embassy, lead by Liu Cai , with a letter of apology and a tribute of 160 taëls of gold for the sultan. Again it was thwarted by the Santiaogou kongsi of Pamangkat which intervened and prevented the deputies from arriving at Sambas. [80] Condemned by his conduct, Zhu Ahao, whom Schaank calls Tjoe Hao (Zhu Hao 紾瘋), was later expelled to Batavia by the Dutch authorities.

     What happened during the month after of the Sedau incident is the object of very conflicting reports and to reconstruct what actually happened is not an easy task. What is clear is that soon after the incident scattered villages inhabited by Chinese in the Budok and Lumar regions and allied to the Lintian and the Shiwufen kongsis were attacked by Dayaks. Their populations were completely exterminated. These kongsis then turned to Dagang for help, and re-entered the Heshun zongting.

     Another fact is that Dagang accused the headman of Sepang, Zhu Hao, of having

organized these murderous raids. The regions of Lumar and Budok were cut off, and  those who had survived the raids were now dying of hunger. Coming to the aid of its allies, Dagang staged a military expedition to attack Sepang and liberate the Chinese settlers of Lintian and Shiwufen.

     Andresen later writes that is was the sultan of Sambas who, frightened of an impending attack of the city of Sambas by Dagang, fled towards the region of Setimo to recruit a Dayak army. This Dayak army was to be used against the Chinese 每 that is those Chinese who had routed his army of Malay soldiers at Sedau. In a much later report, A. Prins mentions the fact that the sultan asked the Dutch for permission to use his Dayaks this way, and that permission had been given on June 21, 1850, two weeks after the Sedau incident.

     At this point we should examine an eyewitness account of the Chinese who had survived these murderous raids. The first of the three letters dated November 1, 1850, states:

※The aforementioned Zhu Ahao and Alu of the kongsi Sepang were men who acted only in their own interest. They conferred with the kongsi and the Dayaks at Sepang, and colluded with the latter to kill all Chinese (elsewhere). More that two hundred people died. And the kongsi Montrado [= we], not able to tolerate this, called people together in order to withstand the killings by the Dayaks. §

The second says:

※I have no means of knowing where I should turn to call for justice, because it is Zhu Ahao who is behind all developments, in collusion with Captain Alu...§

 ※The area of Budok was cut off. No victuals were allowed to be imported or exported there, so that my people even wanted to fight among themselves for victuals; all were enraged like tigers because they did not have anything to eat, and hundreds of my people died, because they were overwhelmed with suffering.§[81]

      As we have seen, they then turned to Dagang, which set out to deliver the besieged settlements and staged a punitive expedition with one thousand soldiers against Santiaogou in general and Sepang in particular. According to Malay reports, they dispatched one hundred Dayaks at the request of Santiaogou. The latter stated, however, that they had been sent only thirty men. The remaining seventy may have joined the Dayak attacks on Dagang and the other Chinese localities. By adopting this course, they had already gained approval of the Dutch authorities. [82] The kongsis of Dagang, Lintian, and Shiwufen attributed the attack to Santiaogou.

     Sepang fell into Dagang*s hands on July 15. Following the offensive, Seminis and other smaller Chinese settlements also fell, and their population fled to Sarawak. Those  of Santiaogou who had not been able to flee were soon surrounded on all sides by the Dagang army. They are said to have numbered approximately four thousand men. Dagang never really attacked Sambas 每 as the Dutch constantly feared (see instructions to Sorg) 每 but turned their attention instead to the township of Pamangkat, situated at the mouth of the Sambas River. Once master of that place, Dagang could seal off all trade with Sambas.

     Pamangkat fell into the hands of Dagang on August 20. As a result, a battle erupted between Dagang and the Dutch to which we shall turn our attention presently. But before doing so, first we shall piece together what may have been the true story that led to these developments, as all parties concerned have been accused of warmongering.

     The earliest move was no doubt made by the sultan of Sambas. A few days after the Sedau incident, we see him recruiting Dayak soldiers. Andresen writes that after the attack on Djintan, there were rumours that the Chinese planned an attack on Sambas. The people in the city were frightened. In panic the sultan of Sambas fled to Sentimo, a Dayak region north of Sambas. He asked the Malay rulers of the area to lead the Dayaks in a punitive expedition to take revenge on the Chinese. [83] We have already seen that he also asked the Dutch authorities to use his Dayak troops, under Malay command, to fight the Chinese, and that permission was granted on June 21.

     There is absolutely no evidence that there was a Dagang army menacing Sambas in the days directly after the Sedau incident. But the sultan may well have been alarmed by the incapacity of his own soldiers to take a stand against the Chinese at Sedau and might have wished to be better protected. Hence the move to recruit Dayak warriors who were always glad to collect heads as trophies whatever the nationality of their original owners. The Assistant-Resident of Sambas agreed that he could use his Dayak irregulars against Dagang. This was a forlorn hope. As soon as the troops arrived at Sambas, raids were organized against the nearest unprotected Chinese villages, providing they did not belong to the Santiaogou kongsi. These were the settlements of Budok and Lumar. The Dayaks started their killings among the scattered Chinese settlements to the south-west of Sambas. On the left bank of the River Sepang there were several Chinese agricultural villages. Among these were Bawan and Soba, which belonged to the Shiwufen kongsi of Lumar; and also Plangouw, which belonged to the Lintian kongsi of Budok. Their inhabitants were the first to be attacked by the Dayaks. Bawan sheltered eighty families. All were killed, except for one male, who was able to escape, and twenty women, who were carried off to the kraton of the sultan. [84]

     The slaughter at Bawan came as a shock to the Chinese of the other regions. They primed themselves to fight back, so when the Dayaks later attacked Budok, Ledo, and Salon, they met with fierce resistance from the Chinese inhabitants. These attacks on the Chinese seem to have eased the fears of the sultan, for after these &heroic* feats he felt confident enough to return to the city.[85]

     Lumar and Budok, which were situated in between the areas of Dagang kongsi and Santiaogou kongsi, had remained neutral during the hostilities. They were in no way involved in the incident which had taken place at Sedau. But during their attack on the territory of the Dagang kongsi, the Dayaks had also attacked scattered settlements of the kongsis of Lumar and Budok. Under such a threat they felt the need to join the largest kongsi, Dagang, and to return to the Heshun zongting. All three 每 Lumar, Budok and Dagang 每 were convinced that it had been the Santiaogou kongsi which had incited the Dayaks to launch their attacks on the Chinese settlements. When the slaughter took place at Lumar and Budok, the settlements in the bordering regions belonging to Santiaogou kongsi 每 like Sepang and Seminis 每 were left unharmed. It was even surmised that Santiaogou lent the Dayaks a hand. It may have been instrumental in pointing out the villages that could be most easily attacked. Whatever the truth of the matter, the survivors of the Lintian and the Shiwufen kongsis rallied around Montrado, accusing Santiaogou of having conspired with the Dayaks to annihilate them.

     Hoist with its own petard, now it was the turn of the Santiaogou kongsi to feel insecure. Sure enough, the three kongsis of the Heshun zongting did not bide any time before coming to launch a counterattack. Santiaogou petitioned the Dutch for armed protection, but the latter had neither the men nor the arms. The few troops available had to remain at Sambas and Pontianak to defend these towns if necessary. So the Dutch authorities in Sambas went so far as to prepare a sum of money 每 how much is unknown 每 with which Santiaogou might go to nearby Singapore and buy weapons. [86] This scheme did not go ahead, when Willer learned that reinforcements under Lieutenant Sorg*s command were under way.

     The Heshun zongting did not bother to wait for their arrival before launching an attack against its old enemy, Santiaogou. In early July, a Dagang army of one thousand warriors besieged Sepang, an old mining settlement of Dagang, which had been given to Santiaogou by the Dutch authorities in 1822, and had since then become a local headquarters of the latter kongsi. Sepang had no strong defenceworks, but the inhabitants fought so valiantly that Dagang was forced to retreat, only to come back with a larger force which surprised the beleaguered settlement and brought down the defence. On July 12, 1850, Dagang entered Sepang and duly occupied it. Then it immediately continued its offensive in the direction of Sambas, building a benteng at each strategic point. These bentengs were manned by fresh troops from Montrado.[87] After Sepang, Seminis fell in the path of the Dagang invasion, and shortly afterwards Sebawi and Shabo. On July 20, the way to Sambas was open, and the town prepared itself for the inevitable onslaught. The more well-to-do citizens, the Chinese merchants and Malay aristocrats, readied themselves to flee to Sarawak. [88] But, as was already mentioned above, Dagang turned around and fixed its attention on Pamangkat, a settlement situated at the mouth of the Sambas River from which all shipping to the interior could be controlled. We have no particulars about this offensive, but the siege of the fortified kongsi house, together with the pacification of the land occupied by of Santiaogou settlers engaged in agriculture, must have taken a few weeks. The Santiaogou population fled to the other side of the Sambas River to Kalamban, which fell under Sarawak jurisdiction. Pamangkat capitulated on August 20 and was occupied.

     In the meantime, a new Dutch expeditionary force was on its way.  Lieutenant-Colonel Sorg had received his instructions on August 9, 1850. [89] Here are a few excerpts from this remarkable document, which throws light on the frame of mind of the Dutch colonial administration:

Article 7: The Chinese consider themselves, by right of property, the true owners of Borneo*s West Coast, in spite of the original aborigines, in spite of the Malay rulers, and in spite of our rights.

Article 11: In order to assess the moral value of this people in the best possible way, it should be realized that it consists of the trash of China, the scum of that nation, for whom nothing is sacred and who try to make everything subservient to their own interest.

Article 12: The above considerations may be used as a yardstick for the treatment these Chinese deserve.

Article 13: The aim of the Chinese is to become the sole masters and rulers of Borneo and thereby expelling the Europeans.

Article 15: In 1825 a considerable military might was specially sent to Borneo to put these endeavours to an end; but the Java War broke out and the troops were recalled before they had accomplished anything.

Article 16: This gave the Chinese a fresh incentive. Since that time their daring has swelled to such proportions that not we, but they, are in fact the rulers of Borneo*s West Coast.

Article 17: They have torn up the contracts; they laugh at our laws; contrary to what they agreed upon, they observe their own form of government, their own money, their own jurisdiction, and corporal punishments. The West Coast of Borneo is a liability for Holland and Dutch rule is being ridiculed by that people.

Article 18: A look at the recent history arouses surprise at the courage of these Chinese. Accustomed as one generally is to consider this nation to be of a cowardly nature, one has to admit that the people of Borneo are an exception to this, as a result of their institutions and their numerical importance.

      Sorg arrived with the first convoy (escorte) in the roadstead of the Sambas River, outside Pamangkat, on August 21. With a small force of only fifty men, he tried to recapture the kongsi house of Pamangkat, but was beaten back. [90] Then he continued upstream Sambas. On August 30 a second convoy also arrived at Sambas, and a third on September 6. The last was the SS Borneo with half a company of Dutch soldiers. The preparations for the military action could begin, but it took several days before everything was ready. On September 9, the troops embarked on the SS Borneo for Pamangkat. Other ships also accompanied the expeditionary force: the war schooner the Kameleon, the unarmed schooner the Haai, and a corvette called the Boreas. The attack was scheduled for the September 10. The task force consisted of a total of 419 Dutch soldiers, of whom 270 were infantrymen, thirty-three were marines from the steamship Boreas, twenty-three were artillerymen, ten were light artillerymen (walbusschutters), and the rest sailors. There were eighteen officers. [91]  Some Malay troops, 200 men in all, also joined.[92] Among the Malay noblemen are mentioned the Pangerans Zoema Lagara and Tomongong. These men accompanied Sorg when he landed and made his first reconnaissance on the shore.[93]

     The officers, scouts, and a number of soldiers left one day earlier and  arrived in the evening of the 8th. The 9th at 7 a.m., at high tide, a number of sloops and other small ships approached the coast and opened fire on the ※ enemy§ who were supposed to be awaiting them there. When the Dutch tried to land, they found themselves in a swamp, and the men had to wade knee-deep through mud. When the tide turned, the landing became totally impossible.

     A second reconnaissance mission was carried out with the object of finding a path leading to the settlement. Having secured the services of a guide, a small force set out on a reconnoiter, but, instead of showing the best way to Pamangkat, the guide led the party away from the settlement! Later in the day, Sorg himself finally found a good path that led to the rear of the village. The next day orders were given to disembark and to have the main force concentrated at the point of access. That night, however, a gale dispersed the flotilla of vessels with the coolies, and a day was needed to concentrate the force once again.

     The disembarkation finally took place on September 11. The main force went ashore at 5 a.m. At the beginning, the ground was quite firm, but later it became more and more soggy, and the soldiers had to wade knee-deep through the mud for two hours. Around 8.30 a.m. firm ground was reached, and the first rice-fields and farmhouses, appeared. They turned out to be all empty as the inhabitants had fled.

     The settlement of Pamangkat was situated on a hill and it was here where the task force encountered the first resistance. The Dagang soldiers came out into the open from a small fortification and opened fire. Prudently, the Dutch retreated, and regrouped the artillery that had to cover the assault of the stronghold of the kongsi house. It was most likely built more or less in the same way as the Lanfang zongting of which Veth has given us an illustration: a sturdy building with a number of rooms, surrounded and protected by a earthen wall surmounted with a teakwood palisade and a moat. Loopholes were cut into the wall and palisade. On the outside, the wall itself was planted, with ※ranju§. In Captain Bade*s report, the benteng is described as a redoute, 67 by 73 paces (about 110 by 120 metres) square, fortified with turrets at each corner, surrounded by a shallow moat, an earthen wall and a stockade three to three and a half metres high, with firing steps on the inside.

     Sorg led the troops of the second company of infantry. The fight was not an easy one. The Dutch estimate of 3500 men on the side of Dagang seems grossly exaggerated, as nowhere in the description of the battle do we encounter this number.[94] At 10 a.m. the Dutch were in danger of being encircled by the Dagang soldiers. Sorg then decided to take the fortress by storm. The moat turned out to be shallow enough for the soldiers to wade through. As they made their advance, many were wounded by gun fire from ※ tjontjo§ guns that were fired through bamboo pipes which had been inserted through the lower part of the earthen wall, allowing them to be brought to bear on the assailants outside close to ground level. Sorg himself fell victim to this unexpected stratagem. On approaching the stronghold, he was hit in the knee and died of this wound a fortnight later.

     Eventually the Dutch did overwhelm the defenders and burst into the fort. They immediately sealed off all the exits and started killing. After half an hour, they had succeeded in rounding up 200 Chinese in a corner of the main hall of the kongsi building. These unarmed men were all slaughtered. Having completed this gruesome business, the building was blown up by a wounded Dagang soldier who had succeeded in igniting some cases of gunpowder.  The Dutch troops ran away in panic. It was 11 a.m.

     The wounded, including Sorg, were collected and transported towards the boats. In the meantime, hundreds of Dagang soldiers continued to harass the retreating troops who were covered by the sixth infantry company under the command of Captain Bade, who had not taken part in the assault. Utterly exhausted the Dutch troops, retreated inside the walls of the kongsi house and defended it from the inside. Here, throughout the entire afternoon, they were attacked again by Dagang, which now had turned assailant, but the Dutch under Bade succeeded in keeping them at bay, at least for some time.

     In the meantime, the Dutch marines had succeeded to clear the obstruction in the small Pamangkat River that led from the Sambas River to the settlement. Now the other sloops and prahus could also approach. In the evening, around 8 p.m., the marines and the Malay troops disembarked and, protected by artillery fire, proceeded to rescue Bade and his infantry troops from their dangerous predicament inside the kongsi house. Initially this achieved its object as the Dagang assailants were dispersed, but when the marines then started to retreat, they were attacked at 11 p.m. by 300 Dagang soldiers. Confronted by this situation, the Malay troops fled immediately, whereas the troops of Dagang grew in strength from minute to minute as other men who had been dispersed by the marines regrouped and rallied. Overmastered, the Dutch retired ※in the greatest possible order§. Relentlessly Dagang pursued them right to the shore, where the battle raged for more than one hour before the troops ※with great difficulty§ had all embarked. Some soldiers who had been left bogged clown in the mud were killed. The marines and Malay soldiers reached the boats at 1 a.m.

     Bade and his company of infantry men remained within the fortification of the kongsi house. Early in the morning, Bade himself made his escape and rejoined Sorg and Willer on the Borneo to discuss the situation. When he wanted to return, however, he was attacked and almost captured. At 8.30 a.m. Dagang attacked the kongsi house. They also set fire to the bazaar of Pamangkat and took a nearly hill from where they could overlook the place, which was in easy range of their fire. The situation of the Dutch became even more desperate when they started to run out of heavy ammunition and the gunners were then forced to strip the wounded of their firearms. At 7 p.m., one hour after dark, after two days of continuous fighting Dagang finally retreated.  At 10.30 p.m., When the Dutch had assured themselves that ※the enemy was no longer to be seen §, they retired to the ships with their wounded, leaving a small force on a strategic hill by the name of Penibungan. There a small fortress was built that, in memory of the fallen commander, was to receive the name of Fort Sorg.

      This description of the battle is based mainly on the report made by Sorg and Bade, compiled immediately after the events, [95]and that of Van Rees,[96] who participated as an officer and whose narrative was published in 1859. It is difficult to construe from it that the Dutch had obtained a magnificent victory. That, however, was the impression Sorg and the other authorities set out to create. On the day after the retreat, Sorg published an Order of the Day, in which he exclaimed:

Officers, soldiers and seamen,

You have given a glorious example of courage and perseverance!

An enemy, stubborn beyond all expectations, has been vanquished by you!

Over their dead bodies you have entered their main fortification.

With glory, Pamangkat has been taken.

I thank you, brave men of the army and the navy!

You have earned my highest approval.[97]

       The chief-of-staff Penning Nieuwland, whose task it was to report the military action to the Governor-General of the Dutch Indies, was not to be outdone in his praise: [98]

I do not need to assure Your Excellency that it is a most agreeable duty to me to report such a glorious feat by our troops to you which one will also be so beneficial to our political situation as well as for our future material well-being. The armed forces of sea and land have fought in the most noble sense of the word, responding the expectations of Your Excellency with the most laudable courage and self sacrifice.

       Glorious indeed! The Dutch were greatly satisfied because of the large number of Dagang people they claimed to have killed: according to Sorg and Bade two hundred and fifty Chinese had perished. Penning Nieuwland puts the number at three hundred. What is the truth behind this figure? The greatest part of the casualities consisted of Dagang soldiers killed within the fortress where they had been cornered, the exits blocked, by Sorg*s infantry troops, who butchered them mercilessly. Describing the assault on the fortress, Sorg writes:

... the enemy fought desperately; our men fought with the courage of lions. When our men poured in from all sides, they were so heated by the battle that they staged a slaughter that will remain etched in the memory of these delinquent Chinese. All those who could not save themselves by taking flight were put to death by our warriors. [99]

      The victims were thrown on a heap. De Groot, who read this passage in the same copy of the Tijdschrift voor Nederlandsch-Indië kept now in the library of the Royal Institute of Linguistics and Anthropology at Leiden, wrote with pencil in the margin: ※Also murdered! No prisoners!§[100] Referring to the carnage Van Rees says: 

Finally what remained of the Dagang*s armed force was gathered into a corner of the fortification with us standing in battle array before them. The fortress was now for the greater part in our hands. The exit that would have allowed them to escape had been shut off, the enemy did not plead for their lives, and was now overmastered and destroyed. §[101]


De Groot*s reaction to this description deserves to be noted here:

One sees in this description a memorably heroic event, but in our eyes it is impossible to see here anything else than a nauseating and unnecessary slaughter of a group of unarmed fellow human beings who were unable to flee and whose calls for mercy in Chinese were, of course, not understood.[102]

       The battle of Pamangkat is therefore open to different interpretations. Apart from the issue of ethics, the question which remains is that of the outcome. Did the Dutch troops really win? Even by reading their own account, shorn of rhetoric and self congratulatory phrases, it is obvious that they did not. The first day started well enough for the Dutch, who captured the kongsi house during the morning. But the same afternoon, far from being beaten, the Dagang troops continued to harass them. At the end of the day, getting on towards midnight, the Malay soldiers had fled, the Dutch marines were still fighting a rearguard action on the shore in order to get back to their ships, and Bade was inside of the fortress unable to escape. There his troops had to withstand the assaults of the Dagang army during the whole of the next day. After making three attempts, the Chinese were able to reach the stockade. In one remarkable show of defiance and confidence, a Chinese approached the fortress with a bundle of sugar-cane on his head, stepped through one of the openings and smilingly offered his sweet load to the astonished Dutch.[103] Then the fighting resumed. The Dutch ran out of ammunition. When, as darkness fell, the beleaguering Dagang troops slackened somewhat, and the Dutch escaped from the fortress and made for their ships. The next day, they left the region.

     This is a good moment to address the question of how to assess the number of casualties. On the Dutch side there were, Sorg claimed, eighteen dead and sixty-seven seriously wounded, a total of eighty-five casaulties. The number of dead must indeed have approached this figure, as almost all the wounded perished, which was the fate of Sorg himself. On Dagang*s side we find an estimated 250 dead. If we subtract from this figure the 200 men slaughtered within the fortress, the number remaining of fifty is comparable to the number of victims on the Dutch side. It is impossible to make an estimate of the number of Chinese wounded. Later, according to Van Rees, the Chinese reported a total number of 400 casaulties, and this figure probably includes those who died of their wounds.[104] It seems likely that two or three Chinese were killed for one soldier of the Dutch army. Claims that, against eighteen dead on the Dutch side, the losses on the Chinese side were ※ astonishingly large § as Penning Nieuwland writes and amounted to 300 dead and 900 wounded seem highly exaggerated. Casualty numbers, though important, are however not the deciding factor.

The clearest proof that Dagang was not beaten comes from the aftermath of the battle. The Dutch having abandoned the fortress and returned to their ships, the next day Dagang troops also regained their base. Pamangkat, its bazaar burned, was denuded of its Chinese inhabitants. Bade, now in command as a replacement for Sorg, split the forces into two groups, one of which was sent to Pontianak, the other to Sambas. A small force of twenty men was left on the hill of Penibungan in what was to be Fort Sorg.

     Dagang returned to Pamangkat a few days later, on September 19, and immediately tried to oust the Dutch soldiers from their stronghold. When they were beaten back, they simply surrounded the place with fortifications, so as to prevent the Dutch from getting out. The latter were delivered from their uncomfortable position by an expeditionary force sent from Sambas. Dagang set out to repair the kongsi house and its fortifications, and began importing opium and ammunition from Singapore, all things which the Dutch force in Fort Sorg could not prevent. During the Moon Festival on the fifteenth day of the eight month (September 23, 1850), Dagang staged a large celebration at Pamangkat, in order to mark their victory. The flags and weapons were consecrated by means of sacrifices and plans were made to conquer Sambas and also to attack Mandor, which had chosen the side of Santiaogou. It now closed off its territory and prepared for war. Once before there had been an incident when Dagang attacked Pamangkat and Mandor had sent ships to take refugees from Santiaogou. Two of these ships landed at Sungai Raya and were captured by Dagang. All passengers and seamen were killed in a gruesome manner. [105]

     One of the main reasons for the prompt return of Dagang to Pamangkat appears to have been the fact the rice crop was about ready to be harvested. It needed protection, and at all cost its former owners, the members of Santiaogou should be prevented from coming and reaping it.[106]

     Returning now to the Dutch: while proclaiming their glorious victory, they had to admit that ※ the enemy had fought valiantly §, that ※ resistance had been unexpectedly strong §, and the like. They were obviously not in a great hurry to return to Pamangkat and wage another battle with the Dagang army, choosing instead to nominate, a certain Liu Gensheng in Pontianak to be captain of Pamangkat, with four laoda and bantou (Panth谷o ∼角Í﹞) to be ※elected by the population §, once he had taken up residence there. It is improbable he ever did.[107]

     The SS Borneo had left Pontianak for Batavia on September 17, so as to report the glad tidings of the ※victory §. The ship returned on October 9 with a new commander and some one hundred reinforcements. The new commander was Lieutenant-Colonel B.F. Le Bron de Vexela, a nobleman consumed with a desire for glory. After having gone to Sambas to pick up information on the situation there, he returned promptly to Pontianak with the demand that all troops be concentrated there. This was done, and the troops arrived there on November 2. Van Rees writes:

Although Le Bron*s original assignment was to occupy only some defensive fortifications, he found it impossible to stand idly by and watch Dagang defy our power in the immediate vicinity of Fort Sorg, boldly protect their rice fields with fortifications and soon reap their harvest under our very eyes, possibly in order to attack us again then. He therefore decided to bring all the troops under his command to Pamangkat and expel Dagang from their forts. [108]

       The expeditionary army left Sambas on November 18, and the disembarkation was planned on the 20th. Because it rained continuously, it had to be postponed for twenty-four hours. Le Bron landed his men and then made camp at the foot of Mount Penibungan. There were no less than 544 soldiers under the command of twenty-five officers. The next day, November 21 at 8 a.m., the attack on the kongsi house was launched.

     The monsoon rains had transformed the small Pamangkat River into a torrent. The path had disappeared and the soldiers had to wade waist-deep through the current. When they came to the stockade, they fired but to little effect. Soon they had to retreat, with a loss of no less than twenty-eight men dead or severely wounded, because they had been ambushed by the Dagang defenders.[109] Next day Le Bron returned to Sambas. Having grossly overstepped his original assignment and provoked a public revelation of the power and valour of the Dagang military might, he was severely criticized for having sinned by a display of too much courage (※par trop de courage §).

     Why did the Chinese fight so well? Van Rees asked a few years later. Was it an artificial courage, induced by opium, in determination to avenge their previous defeat? Or was it because of the strategic importance of Pamangkat, their headmen had succeeded in building up the spirit of those who had been defeated to show extraordinary courage. [110] This requires some insight into the role of the headmen: one of the characteristics of the Heshun zongting organization is that it never produced a charismatic leader, but instead to have remained a democratic community, in which the decisions to go to war were made after long public discussions. What inspired the Dagang troops may have been the desire to reconquer what they considered to be their own territory and to safeguard their independence. It is pertinent to remember here that in the tradition of local armed conflicts (xiedou) between clans, villages and regions in China no one ever asked for mercy or was taken prisoner. Those who capitulated were as a rule executed if they dared to return home.


The First Peace Talks

Returning to Sambas, on November 23, Le Bron received letters from the Dagang kongsi to the effect that it wished to enter into negotiations with him about the future of the Chinese presence on Borneo*s West Coast. This was noted by Penning Nieuwland in his journal, which speaks of two letters. [111] Later in the same document, Penning Nieuwland quotes not two but three letters from Dagang, which he was given by Le Bron. All three are dated November 1, 1850 (28th day of the 9th lunar month). In all likelihood these are the same as those mentioned in the journal. If they are not, they should be close to them in content and intention.

     Earlier we have quoted some excerpts of these three letters. Below is the remainder:

The first letter:


 ※When the kongsi Montrado received the news that Sepang and Seminis had been defeated by its (Montrado*s) commanders and soldiers, it gave orders not to venture into other localities, but to wait for written tidings from Sambas or Pamangkat. However, a considerable period of time elapsed, during which we did not receive any orders. And when we did receive tidings, they concerned the renewed attack by Sepang. The subjects of the kongsi Montrado now were no longer able to restrain themselves, attacked Pamangkat and occupied the same. The kongsi did, however, not intend to march on to Sambas.§

※The kongsi Santiaogou has always been an enemy of Dagang. Now the enemy has fled and we are content.§

※We did not know that the Honourable Resident of Pontianak was our enemy, and had sent soldiers to fight us. We have never been in arrears with the revenues owed to the Government since the area (Sambas?) was established. Yet the honourable petor [112] (Resident) is too quickly angered, [garang: boisterous, fierce, savage, vicious], too proud [boengka: great, vain] and lacking in patience. A great person should be patient and should act with due consideration in all matters, so that the country may be well populated and the wealth increase, to which the presence of the Chinese also contributes.§

※If you, sir, do not wish to have all of us, Chinese, here any longer, what is there to be done about it? and what will be the final decision? Please send us an answer by letter, so that we may thereupon consider the future.§

※We send expressions of respect and well wishes to you, Great Colonel Sir, commander of the [Dutch] troops, of our three kongsis, [the latter] being, first, the kongsi Lintian, secondly, the kongsi Dagang, and thirdly, the kongsi Shiwufen.§

※At Montrado, the 28th of the 9th month.§


The second letter:

※In the first place: because many of my people have died, I have resisted mightily.§

※I send this letter to you, Mr. Colonel, to give you a clear insight into the matter; because ever since the Gouvernement established its authority over these parts, the Chinese of Sambas have paid their dues to it; just like the water (unites again) after it has been cloven in two by a cutting instrument, I had no intention of tearing myself away from the Gouvernement

※However, the honourable Resident of Pontianak has acted without prior investigation. Because the sampan pukat has only sailed past the mouth of the rivers, I do not know the true state of affairs; but if the kruisboot [cruiser] of the company was there, why did it not want to seize it? Even though the matter had not been clarified, the Resident demanded punishment; we of the kongsi, want good and no evil.§

※...... and as far as the faculties of  the ruler of Sambas are concerned, the man lacks sufficient discernment to rule the country, and is too simple-minded and too ignorant, so that he sent a steamship and soldiers up the River Sedau and thereupon started a war; while later on a war was started at Sepang, and many people of Lumar perished at the hands of the Dayaks.§


※This is why I gave permission to fight, and from this ensued the destruction of Pamangkat; it happened by the will of God!§

※We the kongsi have already waited so long for something good from Sambas. But nothing has even come our way. And now we have learned that the honourable Colonel has arrived at Sambas. May we request [him] to weigh up the good and bad, and to bring the matter to a good end!§

※At Montrado, the 28th of the 9th month.§


The third letter:

※I, the kongsi, was like a man who has just smelled the scent of a flower, [113]until three men of Lumar 每 who had broken loose (fled?) from Sambas and were called Gu Dima, Su Chen and Zhang Yongzong [114] 每 arrived at Montrado and notified us, the kongsi, that Song Axi, an old man, had met them at the bazaar of Sambas.§

※I, the kongsi, have always intended to show him my respect.§

※However, how can I help it that I cannot meet him, since the road is too difficult to travel?  The kongsi has already written four letters. Have (you) Captain received them or not? And as to the disaster which has struck the country, the kongsi has always wanted what is good.§

※What can be done, now that the spirit of evil has brought about the death of so many people? Indubitably, he who instigated this has, to be sure, committed a great sin.§

※I, the kongsi, have had the well-being of Sambas at heart. When the people of the kongsi went to war and had defeated Sepang and Seminis, all the commanders wanted to march on to Sambas; yet we, the kongsis, forbade this and ordered them to remain there (at Sepang) and to keep those people there, and wait for written tidings, were these to arrive from Sambas; however, after a very long time, no such tidings about the way in which the situation is judged in the capital were received; if these tidings are long in coming, my commanders will not be able to hold out any longer (are no longer able to hold the people back); perhaps this stupid and wicked Raja of Sambas lacks all insight, if he still has any thoughts at all. If he is still able to think, then we, the kongsis, too are able to do so; if it will promote good, then the kongsis too will reply in a proper manner.§

※That is why I hope, that (you) Captain will be able to settle the matter in the best possible way.§

※At Montrado, in the house of Shangwu, the 28th of the 9th month.

      As an enraged Penning Nieuwland would remark later, these letters did not show any signs of remorse, even less of capitulation. Instead they contain an appeal to the Commander Le Bron to come to terms on a military basis, as only he might be considered to have a realistic attitude after the defeat of Sorg and his own. The other actors, such as the sultan of Sambas or Resident Willer are being written off as devoid of common sense and patience.

     The letters are dated early November, when Le Bron had just arrived. What Le Bron*s reaction might have been, had he received the letters before he tried to reconquer Pamangkat, we will never know. What we do know is that just after his fruitless attempt and the subsequent reception of these letters, Dagang sent a delegation to see him in Sambas which arrived on December 4. The commander, ※convinced that they were well-intentioned §, received them in a friendly manner. The 9th however, the Dagang forces at Pamangkat again tried to capture Fort Sorg, but were driven back. This time Dagang wrote another letter (the text of which has not been preserved). According to Penning Nieuwland, the letter contained a plea for forgiveness and the request that a safe-conduct be given to a delegation of Dagang to go and see the Resident at Pontianak. This was agreed.

     Soon afterwards, on December 31, 1850, Willer received a delegation of five deputies from Dagang at Pontianak.  In a letter to Le Bron, Willer related that on entering the government office building, the Chinese attached pieces of red silk to the Dutch flag-staff, placed incense and candles at its base, knelt and worshipped the flag, thus showing their profound attachment to the Dutch Government.[115] On the same day, Dagang also drew back its troops from Pamangkat, having agreed that they would not be pursued or harassed by the Dutch. [116] What really seems to have impressed Willer was the dramatic display of submission. In his later reports he often refers to it as a proof that the Chinese were serious about making peace and offering obedience to the Dutch authorities. It also marks the beginning of a whole series of similar dramatic gestures in which flags were worshipped, solemn oaths were sworn, and religious ceremonies performed, all with the same purpose in mind. Willer was to become more and more deeply involved in these matters, something which was to lay him open to serious criticism from the Dutch side.

     Willer*s positive attitude towards the ritual display of allegiance by the deputies of the Heshun zongting has to be seen in the context of an ongoing discussion among the Dutch about the trustworthiness of the Chinese. To start with, the Dutch were not inclined to place much confidence in the sincerity of Dagang, when it repeatedly stated that it did not want to continue to battle it out. They did not believe that the Chinese, who had put up such a stout resistance, wanted to make a negotiate peace. Those who like Penning Nieuwland considered the proposals of the ※traitorous Chinese§ to be yet another stratagem, must have been in the majority. As proof of their suspicions they quoted incidents like that, when Dagang sent a embassy with a letter to Le Bron de Vexela at Pontianak on December 4, 1850, which demanded peace, and asked to be received by Resident Willer, and then five days later, on December 9, launched another attack on Fort Sorg.[117]

     This ambiguous action of suing for peace and then attacking again was no doubt the logical outcome of the lack of political unity in Montrado. The attack on Fort Sorg on December 9, which occurred on the same day as the request for peace was handed over, was caused by a disagreement about which course to follow. When the assailants were promptly beaten off, the desire for peace grew more widespread. Later in the history there is plenty of evidence that the homefront was by no means united, the most important group being the merchants of the bazaar who nearly always were for a peaceful accommodation with the Dutch. They were opposed by the miners who were more belligerent. To understand their situation, it is useful to remember that, after the incident at Sedau, when Montrado had begun preparations for battle, the mines had been closed, all work was stopped, and all miners joined the armed forces. Besides having to suffer a lack of income, the food situation soon seems also to have become desperate. The miners therefore wished to get the war over with as soon as possible, instead of engaging in protracted discussions during which they had to remain mobilized.

     Whatever the real motivation, it is quite obvious from the afore-mentioned letters, that the kongsi sought to resolve the matter in a peaceful way. Right from the beginning the Dutch were averse to commencing negotiations with the kongsi on terms of equality. In this frame of mind it is not surprising that the result of the talks was that the Dutch drew up a list of things that the Chinese were obliged to do:

1. Pay one picul of gold to cover the expenses incurred by the Dutch during the war;

2. To pay several catties[118] of gold each year as tribute;

3. Close all harbours for trade which had not been licensed for commerce by the Dutch;

4. The leaders of the kongsi should have to be acknowledged by the Dutch colonial authorities.

      The deputies did not dare to acknowledge these demands on the strength of their own authority. They needed to return to Montrado to hear the opinion of their respective kongsis. A truce was declared which would last until January 11, 1851, the day on which it was agreed that the delegates would return to the negotiating table. During this period the blockade of the harbours was maintained.

     The delegation did not come back on time, only appearing a few days later. On January 13, 1851, a nine-man delegation of the Heshun zongting, comprising members of the Dagang, Shiwufen, and Lintian kongsis, arrived in Pontianak bringing a letter stamped by the seals of the three kongsis giving them full powers to negotiate. The solemn ceremony of the worship of the Dutch flag was repeated. On this subject Willer wrote later that:

The religious ceremony which the delegates performed on January 13 at the foot of the flag-staff from which the Dutch colours stream is public proof that the kongsis, under the eye of the Almighty, confirm their remorse and pray for forgiveness for having offended the Government of the Dutch Indies and also offering that it is now their most resolute intention to bind themselves forever to that government as its faithful subjects.  [119]


       The negotiations started the next day (January 14), and advanced well, in the opinion of Resident Willer. On the 25th he could report to Le Bron that they had been successfully concluded. Willer invited Le Bron to come over and take part in the solemn final meeting. [120] On the 27th this final meeting was opened in the presence of the following people: [121]

T.J. Willer, Resident of Western Department of Borneo; B. F. Le Bron de Vexela, Commander of the expedition; A. F. Siedenburg, garrison-commander at the West Coast of Borneo; R. C. van Prehn, Resident at Sambas; Sjarif Kasim bin Sultan Abdoel Rachman Alkadri, Pangeran Bandahara of Pontianak; Guo Foyuan 廖痰A, captain of the Chinese at Pontianak; Liu Asheng, Jiatai of the kongsi Lanfang at Mandor; Liu Gensheng, deputy Kapitein Chinees at Pamangkat, in this matter acting as interpreter; Wen Bao , commander (zongling ) and deputy of the Dagang kongsi; Chen Lian , likewise commander and deputy of Dagang; Zheng Hong, Huang Jinhua S嫹A and Wu Fang, accountants (caiku xian ) and deputys of Dagang; Song Fu and Chen Yin, deputys and accountants of the Shiwufen kongsi at Lumar; Zhang Hong and Fang Xiagui, deputys and accountants of the Lintian kongsi at Budok.

       The last nine names are those of the delegates of the Heshun zongting. What is remarkable is the absence any representatives of the sultan of Sambas, or of Santiaogou, something that would be the cause of much argument later.

     An agreement was drawn up. Essentially it contained the same clauses as Resident Willer had demanded at the first meeting, but other Articles were added it. Provisions were made for a radical change in the structure of Heshun zongting: in future the zongting had to account for its actions to the Dutch colonial authorities; the Dutch Resident would have the right to appoint a leader from among four candidates; the leadership of the zongting would from now on be called regentschapsbestuur, and the leader himself ※regent §. His attributes and duties would be precisely laid down; for the time being it was stated that he should be ※the first in the land§ (de eerste van het land), whatever that might have meant, because in the same Article a change in the legal status of the kongsis was proposed, making them part of the Dutch administration, albeit with a large degree of autonomy. He was to wield the Dutch national seal surrounded with the words ※Helan huangdi chifeng Heshun zongting Jiada§ 盡帗銘著賰猾睿d樅怮, that is: Jiada of the Heshun zongting, by appointment from the emperor of Holland. He would communicate directly with the Assistant-Resident of Sambas, would nominate the zhazhu, literally the ※heads of the palisades§ but here translated as district heads, as well as the laoda, but of course only with the agreement of the Assistant- Resident. He would be paid a salary. Interestingly the document foresees the appointment of zhazhu not only for districts such as Lara, Budok, and Lumar, but also at Pamangkat! The Chinese administration would have the right of policing, of meting out civil and penal justice and to have one or two courts of justice. The agreement goes into great detail about the administration of the mines, and such matters. It is stipulated that the monopoly on salt and opium would remain the prerogative of the Dutch government, but that in the shortest possible period a ※club of capitalists§ should emerge to which the right of distribution of these commodities might be leased, for the whole ※land of Heshun zongting§.[122] This proposal for the opium farming to be given to the Chinese of Montrado instead of to the Pangeran Ratoe was destined to be a major source of disagreement between Willer and his superiors.

     Finally, it is stated that the entire assembly of delegates appointed three of them to go to Batavia, ※in order bring him, in the name of all, the homage of the complete submission of the three united kongsis.§ These three persons happened to be three
accountants of the three kongsis, who were the above-mentioned Zheng Hong of Dagang, Zhang Ding of Budok and Song Fu of Lumar.[123]

     The agreement stipulated, of course, the end of all hostilities. The blockade was lifted and rice and salt could again be imported. The Dayaks would be ordered to lay down their arms. Also very important is the fact that the very first Article states that the government will take due note of the state of exhaustion of the land and of its inhabitants, and of the fact that the mining and other activities have been halted for more than eight months. In consequence, the fine would be paid in twenty annual installments. In spite of some very paternalistic and imperialistic overtones, the agreement was the result of genuine discussions. Concessions had been made on both sides. Hardship and hostilities seemed now to be about to make way for peaceful co-existence and development.










Fig. 6. The West Borneo goldfields c. 1850 (after Jackson)










Fig. 7. Seal of the Jiatai of the Heshun zongting

[1] Veth, Borneo*s Wester-afdeeling, vol.I, pp. 326-327.

[2] See Jackson, Chinese Goldfields, p. 28.

[3] Earl, Eastern Seas, p. 248; Jackson, Chinese Goldfields, p. 29.

[4] H.E.D.Engelhard, ※Bjidragen tot de kennis van het grondbezit in de Chineesche districten§, BKI 51, 1900, p. 258.

[5] Doty and Pohlman, ※ Tour in Borneo§, pp. 283-284.

[6] Andresen, ARA, 1850-1900, Geh. Kab., 5841-315.

[7] W.C. Cator, Economic Position of the Chinese, p. 153.

[8] Doty and Pohlman, ※ Tour in Borneo§, pp. 297-300.

[9] ※History of the Land of Montrado§, see L. Bluss谷 ※ Nugggets from the Gold Mines§, p. 295.

[10] See the Clan Chronicle of Wu family at Sanggau. After Wu Yuansheng died, his wife even became the leader of local Chinese community. Xie Qinggao also mentions this story in his Hailu.

[11] Enthoven, Bijdragen tot de geographie van Borneo*s Westerafdeeling, pp. 866-867.

[12] Engelhard, ※Bjidragen tot de kennis§, p. 258.

[13] See ※Verwikkelingen§, p. 181. It mentions that the Chinese had destroyed the ※koffijtuin te Sebabu§ during the revolt against the Dutch who tried to levy on the Chinese population in 1824.

[14] Later they also grew coconuts, peppers, rubber, and mandarins for export.

[15] Cator, Economic Position of the Chinese, p. 155.

[16] ※Verwikkelingen§, pp. 286-287.

[17] See Earl*s Eastern Seas, pp. 199-342.

[18] Enthoven, Bijdragen tot de geographie van Borneo*s Westerafdeeling, p. 866.

[19] Ibidem, p. 867.

[20] Ibidem, pp. 866-867.

[21] Cator, Economic Position of the Chinese, p. 143.

[22] Jackson, Chinese Goldfields, p. 30.

[23] Doty and Pohlman, ※Tour in Borneo§, pp. 303, 309.

[24] In fact, all documents in Chinese or in western languages mentioned the locations of the kongsis as either markets or bazaars.

[25] Doty and Pohlman, ※Tour in Borneo§, p. 303; J. Haccoû, ※Fragmenten van eene reis op de Westkust van Borneo in 1830§, pp. 474-502.

[26] The Chronicle of Lanfang Kongsi.

[27] Enthoven, Bijdragen tot de geographie van Borneo*s Westerafdeeling, p. 807.

[28] Ibidem, p. 808.

[29] Schaank, De Kongsis van Montrado, p. 43, note 1.

[30] Enthoven, Bijdragen tot de geographie van Borneo*s Westerafdeeling, p. 865.

[31] During a recent field work trip, I witnessed the construction of a vessel of about 60 feet in length. The shipwrights estimated that it would take one month to complete.

[32] Xianshigushi.

[33] Enthoven, Bijdragen tot de geographie van Borneo*s Westerafdeeling, p. 865.

[34] Schaank, De Kongsis van Montrado, p.7 9.

[35] De Groot, Het Kongsiwezen van Borneo, pp. 130-131.

[36] The Chronicle of Lanfang Kongsi.

[37] Ritter, Indische herinneringen, pp. 125-7; Schaank, De Kongsis van Montrado, p. 103.

[38] According to Schaank, the locally born Chinese called themselves Bendi 掛華.

[39] Schaank, De Kongsis van Montrado, p. 90.

[40] Ibidem, pp. 54-55.

[41] Ibidem, p.53.

[42] ※Verwikkelingen§, p. 292.

[43] Ibidem, p. 287.

[44] Ibidem, p.291. Tampah is a kind of taxes which used to be levied by the Malay rulers on the native people.

[45] Ibidem, pp. 291-292.

[46] Veth, Borneo*s Wester-afdeeling, vol. II, p. 652.

[47] This was the opinion of Tobias and Ritter, who saw in the Chinese communities the future of West Borneo.

[48] Other sources (※Verwikkelingen§ p. 277) give ※Djinkang§.

[49] According to Schaank, one koyan is about 2500 kilogram.

[50] Van Rees, Wachia, Taykong en Amir, of het Nederlandsch-Indish leger in 1850, Rotterdam 1859, pp. 93-94.

[51] This Lin San*an later becomes a leader of the Dagang kongsi.

[52] Jaarverslag van Sambas 1850, ARA 1850-1900, 5836-438; Schaank, De Kongsis van Montrado, p. 55.

[53] Ibidem.

[54] ※Verwikkelingen§, p. 276.

[55] Jaarverslag van Sambas 1850, ARA 1850-1900, 5836-438.

[56] Ibidem.

[57] Andresen, ARA, 1850-1900, Geh. Kab., 5841-315.

[58] GG aan Minister van Kolonien, ARA 1850-1900: 30.

[59] Jaarverslag van Sambas 1850, ARA 1850-1900, 5836-438.

[60] Andresen, Geh. Kab.:5841-315.

[61] ※Verwikkelingen§, p. 278.

[62] Missive resident Willer van 17 juni 1850, no.16; see Jaarverslag van Sambas 1850, Verbaal:5836-438.

[63] See ※Verwikkelingen§, p. 315.

[64] Ibidem, p. 342.

[65] Ibidem, p. 315.

[66] Ibidem, p. 314.

[67] Ibidem, p. 316.

[68] After the Dutch had been expelled by Koxinga in 1662, the last Dutch governor of Formosa, Frederik Coyett, had reported this event as &t Verwaerloosde Formosa ( Neglected Formosa). This report was published in 1675. 

[69] Anthony*s Hambroek was a Dutch minister in Formosa. He had been detained by Koxinga as hostage in 1662, and was executed with other Dutch ministers and school teachers later when the Dutch governor refused to surrender the castle. The tragedy of Hambroek and his family in Formosa enjoyed wide-spread fame in Holland during the nineteenth century.

[70] ※Verwikkelingen§, p. 372.

[71] Q. Langelaan, ※De Chinezen van Sambas, 1850: Een aanzet tot een historiche studie naar de oorzaken van verzet en verval van het algemene bestuur van de Chinese  mijnwerkersverenigingen te Montrado, de federatie Fo-Sjioen, aan de hand van de Nederlands penentratie in Kalimantan Barat.§ Unpublished M.A. thesis, University of Amsterdam, 1984, p. 81.

[72] ※Verwikkelingen§, p. 343.

[73] Ibidem, p. 315.

[74] Ibidem, pp. 344-345.

[75] Ibidem, p. 317.

[76] Instructions to Sorg, art. 37, quoted in ※Verwikkelingen§, p. 317.

[77] Schaank, De Kongsis van Montrado, p. 56.

[78] According to Schaank, he was Captain of Sepang.

[79] This is the first of the three letters which were written by the three kongsis of the Heshun zongting on 1 November, 1850, to B.F. Le Bron de Vexela who was Sorg*s successor as the commander of the Dutch expedition, the texts of which have been preserved in the Dutch translation in ※Verwikkelingen§, pp. 365-367.

[80] Schaank, De Kongsis van Montrado, p. 56.

[81] The three letters appear to have been written on the same day and have more or less the same content. The reason for this duplication remains a mystery.

[82] Verslag Commissaris A. Prins, ARA 1850-1900, Geh. Kab.: 5836-315; Langelaan, ※De Chinezen van Sambas§, p. 61.

[83] Andresen, ARA 1850-1900, Geh. Kab.: 5841-315.

[84] Langelaan, ※De Chinezen van Sambas§, p. 59.

[85] Andresen, ARA 1850-1900, Geh. Kab.: 5841-315.

[86] Verslag A. Prins, ARA 1850-1900, Geh. Kab.: 5836-315.

[87] Van Rees, Taykong, p. 110.

[88] Ibidem, p. 111.

[89] ※Verwikkelingen§, pp. 314-320.

[90] Jaarverslag van Sambas 1850, ARA 1850-1900, Verbaal:5836-436.

[91] Lists given in ※Verwikkelingen§ p. 331 (report by Captain Bade) and Van Rees, Taykong, p. 119.

[92] Van Rees, Taykong, p. 119.

[93] Sorg*s report, quoted in ※Verwikkelingen§ p. 333; Van Rees, Taykong,  p. 119.

[94] Sorg writes: ※ the force of the enemy at the time of our battles is difficult to assess; according to different information it may have been 3500.§ (see ※Verwikkelingen§ p. 338.) Vice Admiral Van den Bosch even goes so far as to state that there were 5000 Chinese defenders! (※Verwikkelingen§, p. 324)

[95] ※Verwikkelingen§, pp. 331-338.

[96] Van Rees, Taykong, pp. 110-141.

[97] ※Verwikkelingen§, p. 326.

[98] Ibidem, p. 329.

[99] Ibidem, p. 327.

[100] The handwriting here resembles that of J.J.M. de Groot.

[101] Van Rees, Taykong, p. 126.

[102] De Groot, Het Kongsiwezen van Borneo, p.150, note 2.

[103] Van Rees, Taykong, p. 139.

[104]  ※Verwikkelingen§, p. 339 (footnote).  The extrapolation that Van Rees makes on the number of wounded is unfounded.

[105] De Groot, Het Kongsiwezen van Borneo, pp. 35-36, note 1.

[106] Mentioned in ※Verwikkelingen§ p. 347.

[107] Van Rees, Taykong, p. 147.

[108] Ibidem, p. 151.

[109] There are three, fairly conflicting accounts of the battle in ※Verwikkelingen§ this time. I have not tried to reconstruct the possible historical developments, once more obfuscated by the usual rhetoric.

[110] Van Rees, Taykong, p. 123.

[111] ※Verwikkelingen§, p. 354.

[112] Petor is come from the Portuguese word ※feitor§. Here in Malay it means the Assistant-Resident or the Resident. 

[113] The meaning here is unclear. It appears to be some conventional phrase in the sense of  ※ I long heard your fragrant name! §, but the context does not warrant it. The events to which the beginning of the letter alludes are obscure.

[114] The purchaser of the kongsi of Lumar in 1853.

[115] ※Verwikkelingen§, p. 356.

[116] See E. B. Kielstra, ※ Bijdragen tot de geschiedeis van Borneo*s Westerafdeeling§, IG, 1889, part 1, p. 323.

[117]  ※Verwikkelingen§, pp. 354-355.

[118] According to Schaank (De Kongsis van Montrado, p. 108), one catty is about 0.617613025 kilogram.

[119]  Quoted in Kielstra, ※Bijdragen tot Borneo*s Westerafdeeling§, 1889, part 1, p. 324.

[120]  ※Verwikkelingen§, p. 357.

[121] Ibidem, pp. 357-358.

[122] Ibidem, pp. 358-361.

[123] Ibidem, p. 361.