THE COLONIAL STATE AND THE KONGSIS
(1851 – 1853)
The Establishment of the “Regentschap”
Willer and his three Chinese emissaries left Pontianak for Batavia on February 1, 1851, on board the steamship H.M. Phoenix. There is no doubt that this extraordinary delegation was quite sanguine that it could settle the matters once and for all. We shall see that course of events did not run as smoothly as its members expected.
The presentation of the agreement that was reached under Willer did not satisfy the authorities. The Governor-General submitted it to the Raad van Indië, which appointed a special committee in order to propose further measures. This committee had three members: Du Puy, member of the Raad, Francis, the former Commissioner for West Borneo and General-Major Penning Nieuwland. Both Francis and Penning Nieuwland produced strongly worded documents in favour of far more aggressive measures, arguing that the Chinese were not be trusted and that Willer had been far too accommodating and credulous; that the only language that the Chinese understood was that of arms, and other such broadsides. Given these personalities, the committee lost little time in reaching its conclusion: Dutch authority had to be reinstalled at all costs. The committee advised the rejection of virtually all of the Articles of the agreement made by Willer. The payment of the fine in twenty yearly installments, for instance, was considered to be “beneath the dignity of the government”! The members asked that everything should be done to allow the Santiaogou kongsi, which had fled to Sarawak, to come back to Sambas and reinstate itself in its former territory. They also demanded the immediate payment of the fine and all other sums considered outstanding. Finally, a considerable reinforcement of the military presence of the Dutch colonial government was advocated. The committee also tried to discount any fears about the future: were all the Dagang Chinese killed or made to leave Borneo, it wrote, a host of other Chinese would come in to take their place. If Santiaogou could be induced to return to Pamangkat, the place would, as before, become the rice reservoir of the whole of West Borneo. On the copy of the article by Penning Nieuwland where this text is given, De Groot has added in pencil: “they surely must have been looking at it through their telescopes!”
The Dutch authorities had noted the absence of representatives of Santiaogou at the meetings, and above all took exception to the fact that they had failed to appear before the sultan of Sambas. They therefore disputed the validity of the agreement and accused Willer of too great a leniency towards Dagang. One clue to the true state of affairs had however escaped them: the fact that the three Chinese who had gone to Batavia with Willer were, of course, not true delegates of the Heshun zongting. They were just the accountants of the kongsis and not the leaders. They had been chosen by those present at Pontianak, none of whom apparently were keen to go to Batavia, even if they were to be received at the Governor-General’s residence. They certainly had received no mandate from their assembly. Quite clearly they were also afraid of being retained as hostages; and certainly they had no intention whatsoever of submitting themselves to the Dutch in the way the Dutch wanted them to.
For the time being, the belligerent recommendations of the special committee were not adopted. Rochussen, the incumbent Governor-General, was not in favour of immediate military action against the kongsis. In the first place it would mean that the interior of West Borneo would have to be kept under surveillance for a long period after the subjugation of the kongsis. This would require far more troops to be stationed there and would entail enormous expense. Where would this money come from? The mines would not remain profitable forever. It would therefore not be an easy matter to send over any large body of soldiers, quite apart from the fact that the Dutch troops were at the time still engaged in actions in West Java and Sumatra. For these reasons Rochussen opposed the proposals made by Penning Nieuwland and the military commanders, and ordered that peaceful relations be maintained with the Chinese.  Even after the battle at Pamangkat in September 1850, he considered that it was enough to have Dutch troops protect Sambas and Pontianak, and maintain control of the seaport of Sambas. He did not think that the troubles caused by the Chinese kongsis should necessarily be subdued by use of military force, because the Chinese themselves might want to settle the matter through negotiations.
On March 27, Rochussen therefore decided to follow Willer’s policy insofar as it was judged that the latter had acted in the spirit of the government. It was also stated that the Chinese were formidable enemies and that they obeyed only the emperor of China. Nevertheless, he entertained strong reservations about the nature of the agreement with the Heshun kongsis. He believed the “dream vision ” of obtaining, through the dissolution of the kongsis, a kind of Chinese society that would be under direct Dutch control to be unfeasible as it meant that the rights of the Malay allies and vassals (leenmannen ) would be disregarded. In such a situation they might be tempted to seek an association with Brooke. No Santiaogou land should go to Dagang. No political (staatkundig ) role or autonomy could be given to the kongsis, their status should be that of commercial companies and no agreements should be concluded with them, although admittedly in former times the government had made some contracts with them. In conclusion, Rochussen decreed that the agreement of January 27 could not be accepted. This rendered the question of the war indemnity illegal, and Rochussen therefore decided that the payment of one picul of gold was not necessary and that just a few catties would suffice. The installation of a regent was also allowed, if the sultan of Sambas agreed. Rochussen received the three Chinese and Willer on March 31 and handed them these decisions.
On April 18, 1851, the party was back in West Borneo. Zheng Hong and one colleague then returned to Montrado, and the third member of their group remained in Pontianak. De Groot writes that when Zheng Hong returned to Montrado, he was beaten up and thrown out of the town by the angry citizens who accused him of having sold out their country to the Dutch, but we have no other proof of this.
Willer stipulated that instead of the one picul of gold the Chinese had to pay the ten catties or 160 taëls of gold originally demanded, and that they should come with a list of four candidates for the position of regent, from which he then could chose one. He also demanded that the proposal be on his desk by May 9, 1851. The Heshun kongsis were unable to accomplish this at such short notice. A considerable number of questions had to be settled before a general assembly, which had to nominate the candidates, could be held. The delegates had to come from the different kongsis, and this in turn necessitated the election of officers at the level of the individual kongsis first. All this would take time, because before such grassroot elections could take place, the accounts had to be drawn up and approved, a task which was by no means an easy one after the protracted war and consequent turmoil.
Finally, on May 14, the preliminary conditions had been met and the great assembly (dahui) could be held at the zongting. There were two hundred delegates who discussed the situation of the alliance and its future for a full five days. During the first days, the debates seem to have raged in an incredible confusion and din.
Zheng Hong emerged as the most vocal advocate of an arrangement with the Dutch. He stressed the leniency of the Dutch demands, the unique chance of having something like political recognition of their autonomy, and the possibility of a lasting peace under Dutch protection. The option of farming out tax contracts for the distribution of opium and salt, with all the benefits from the income of the farms, was no doubt discussed, as it had already been more or less promised in Batavia. All this must have been fairly favourably received by the “bourgeois ” party of bazaar merchants who wanted peace before anything else, and far less by the “proletariat ” miners who, of course, were in the great majority among the delegates. For the bazaar, the main obstacle standing in the way of a new form of government was the issue of the huge debt of 160,000 guilders which had been contracted by the present leaders. They feared that under a new political system, these debts would no longer be recognized. They argued that the present headmen could not be dismissed or replaced before this debt had been paid. As the coffers of the Heshun zongting were empty, this amounted to saying that the establishment of a regentschap could not take place.
Prominent among the other considerations which stood in the way of the acceptance of the agreement and the subsequent emendation made by Rochussen was, of course, the stipulation that the Heshun zongting should remove itself from Sepang and that what was left of the Santiaogou kongsi should be reinstalled in its stead. This last measure was in flagrant contradiction to the promises made to the delegates of Montrado by Willer during the peace talks, but had now been vigourously imposed by the Raad van Indië in Batavia. Indeed, the fourth Article of the agreement explicitly said that the newly appointed Jiatai would also have jurisdiction over the land of the former kongsi of Santiaogou. Pamangkat would be also considered as a district of the Heshun zongting, as a zhazhu was to be appointed there (Article 6). This was a serious breach of faith and a heavy blow to the agreement. The difficulty was also that all three items on the agenda were linked: the Montrado kongsis had accepted Dutch sovereignty on the condition that their victory over Santiaogou was recognized and their right to the conquered land would not be challenged.
There were other, more unforeseen, problems. The Dutch proposal was that the term of office of the regentschap would be one year. This would seem a short enough period, but did not tally at all with the established custom at Montrado of changing and re-electing the officers every four months. This was the true heart of their democracy. It prevented any one leader gaining undue influence and accumulating wealth and power by a long term in office. More pertinently it also gave every member his turn at managing the commonwealth. Now these terms would no longer be allowed. The only officials who remained in office for longer periods were the professional employees of the kongsis, the secretaries and the accountants. Not surprisingly these employees were the people with whom the Dutch and Malays were best acquainted, such as the famous secretary of the Heshun zongting, “Sing Sang” Zhu Fenghua. The most suitable situation, for both parties, would therefore be that the person acting as “regent ” of the “land of Heshun zongting ” would be one of these employees, and the best man for the job was the accountant Zheng Hong. The Dutch were happy as he was someone they knew and he had been to Batavia to see the Governor-General – but in the eyes of the Montrado general assembly he would always remain an official under the authority of the elected headmen of the kongsis.
When everyone was tired and all the grievances had been aired, the solution presented itself. Zheng Hong calmly took the floor and translated the agreement and the answer given by the Governor-General in Batavia. It was finally decided that the new government would recognize the debt and make repayment of it its first priority, with the proviso that no interest would be paid on the outstanding sums. In order to raise the war indemnity to the Dutch, the new government should to issue bonds to be subscribed on a voluntary basis and on which interest would be paid at 3 percent per month (the ordinary rate). It was Zheng Hong who proposed these solutions. They were adopted, his choice as candidate for the post of regent was a mere formality: he was elected by acclamation.
A few days later, on May 26, a group of four candidates and four delegates arrived in Pontianak. The member of the Batavia delegation who had remained in Pontianak joined them. The four candidates were: Zheng Hong, Zhang Ding (of Lintian), Cai Wuxiu 蔡戊秀 (of Dagang), and Liu Zhufang (of Shiwufen).
The negotiations began on May 29. Before choosing the candidates, financial matters had to be settled. The Heshun kongsis had to have money for their annual budget, for their yearly “homage” to the government of 6000 guilders and for the interest on the bonds at 3% per month, namely 5000 guilders per annum. The other (expenses) were: (1) the annual salary of the thirty-five employees of the Heshun zongting, about 14,880 guilders; (2) for public works and unforeseen expenses 10,120 guilders was reserved. All together this amounted to 36,000 guilders.
Table 12: Personnel salaries of the Heshun zongting (guilder)
When the question of how this amount was to be raised came up, the group from Heshun stated that Chinese hated direct taxes. They said they did not know the exact population but that it could be estimated at about 20,000 people, among whom there were some 6000 men who could pay poll tax. The annual poll tax on each man of established income was one guilder.
Table 13: Taxes on commodity importation
* 20 pieces of 32 to 40 yards.
The kongsi also levied import duties, and the district heads kept these to contribute towards their own salaries of forty-two guilders a month (formerly), so the kongsi had to subsidize them as the final income from these duties was only 1300 guilders, while a sum of 2520 guilders was necessary to pay the salaries. 
Table 14: Annual income of district-headmen from taxes on incoming goods
Willer immediately wanted to abolish the taxes imposed by the Heshun kongsis on the import of goods as he considered them (1) to be a burden to the common people; (2) illegal; and (3) not authorized by the sultans of Sambas and Pontianak. The latter had a right to be heard, as most of the small trade was in the hands of the Malays. Last but not least, the Government would have to give its permission. But the Heshun kongsis said that it was impossible to do otherwise and their hands were tied. Zheng Hong thereupon explained that if the district-headmen were given a financial interest in the import duties, they would be far more likely to keep a diligent eye on everything. Otherwise an enormous police force would need to be created, and even so contraband would never be successfully countered.  The taxation was very low and the burden of it would fall on the consumer and not the trader, Zheng argued.
Willer could not go against this. The duty was halved and that on salt abolished as this was a government monopoly. Obviously, the same reasoning could prevail in the case of the opium monopoly. As soon as the leaders – and the bazaar – of Montrado had acquired the licence for opium farming, smuggling, at least on the scale on which it was carried out until the blockade, would be a thing of the past. This would in turn mean added income for the Dutch government. The opium farm and the revenues to be reaped from it would eventually lead to the improvement of the financial situation of the Montrado regentschap which consequently would have a better chance of imposing its authority. Hence the scheme, which had already been formulated in the Agreement of January 27, 1851, was again adopted for submission to the authorities in Batavia.
Finally there were discussions on the money the Heshun kongsis had issued and on the purchase of Chinese official titles by wealthy citizens.After these discussions, Willer came to the conclusion that the Heshun alliance could not continue to rule without creating chaos. He therefore forged ahead and on June 3 nominated on his own initiative the new regentschap from among of the candidates:
Zheng Hong installed as regent ( Jiatai)
Cai Wuxiu as vice-regent ( houbu Jiatai 後部甲太)
Zhang Ding as judge ( shenshi 審事).
Once in office, Zheng Hong was to name his officers and replace the kongsi government. The installation was to take place in Sambas. Only then there could be talks with the sultan of Sambas. This was not what the Governor-General had wanted, but there was no alternative. Willer had also managed to persuade Montrado to abandon its claims to Santiaogou. The next meeting was set at Sambas for the beginning of July. There Willer would receive the war indemnity of ten catties of gold.
On June 7, Zheng and the others left Pontianak on board the ship Anadyomene for Sungai Raya and arrived at Montrado on the 14th. The next day he wrote to Willer that the united kongsis had given him plenipotentiary power, but that a host of matters still had to be settled and therefore he had to postpone his departure for Sambas until July 13. “Of course”, wrote Willer, “I had to agree as I had no power to force him to do otherwise.” Other informants hastened to apprise Willer that all was not peace and harmony in Montrado. The people there were of the opinion that they had agreed to lay down their arms for the time being, but if and when they would be asked to hand them over to the Dutch, they would certainly make use of them to defend their rights. “The party for independence does not yet fear to voice its opinion” complained Willer.
Before long more positive news emerged. At Sepang, normal activities had been resumed and some people from Santiaogou had come back to take possession of their mines again. Zheng Hong had been solemnly installed at Montrado on June 29. Everything was now being prepared for his festive arrival in Sambas. A government vessel would fetch him and his large retinue from Singkawang.
The government also received reassurances from other sides. A.J. Andresen, who by government decree of April 11, 1851 had replaced the impetuous Le Bron de Vexela as commander of the armed forces, had reconnoitered the region and written about his findings to the War Department. He reported that there was no longer any trace of impending hostile actions by the Chinese of Dagang. Pamangkat still bore the traces of past violence. The lush rice fields were left abandoned, according to Andresen a sign that Dagang had relinquished their claim to them. He had also visited Singkawang, where “the Dutch flag flew high from a flagpole in front of the kongsi house.” He was saluted by rifle shots, entertained with a meal in the kongsi house, and invited to stay for the day. A special theatrical performance was organized in his honour. He noted down all these delightful details, said he, because they did not betray any hostile intentions.
As we shall see, these positive messages did not convince either the Raad van Indië or the Governor-General one jot that matters had been steered into calmer waters. Under the combined pressure of the Military Department and Penning Nieuwland, their reaction was one of deepening hostility. The recommendation of the Raad van Indië of July 8, 1851,  completely disavowed Willer’s actions. It ruled that no import duties should be levied by the Chinese themselves, no regent paid by the Dutch government should be installed, far less a vice-regent. Nor could any judge possibly be tolerated (“onbestaanbaar”). All this, said the Raad, not only ran counter to Dutch policy, it was also prejudicial to the rights of the sultan of Sambas! And last but not least, the Chinese should not obtain honorary marks of distinction from the Chinese emperor, as before doing so they had to apply first to the Dutch authorities for permission to receive them. All this was rather pathetic, as the colonial government had no means by which to reinforce these recommendations, and Willer was grudgingly left free to continue his course.
Willer’s “Stubborn Patience” in Sambas
Under these cloudy conditions Willer prepared for the festive entry of Zheng Hong to Sambas. He had asked Liu Asheng, the Jiatai of Mandor, to accompany him in order to assist him in his contacts with the people of Santiaogou, whose friend the latter was reputed to be. But on the very morning of their departure for Sambas, on July 12, Liu came to ask to be excused as he feared becoming too directly involved in the predictable quarrels which would emerge between Dagang and Santiaogou. He warned Willer that Zheng Hong’s authority was by no means firmly grounded. The miners, who made up two-thirds of the electorate, still counted on him to achieve the annexation of Santiaogou within the Heshun zongting. If this could not be accomplished, they would oppose him.
Arriving at Sambas on July 15, the resident had five days to arrange everything before the entry of Zheng Hong, which was to be on July 20. Willer set out, with “infinite patience” as he later writes, to settle these matters one by one. In doing so, he had to take into consideration a great number of conflicting interests and orders: to maintain peace at all costs; to strengthen the authority, not only of the Dutch but also of the newly installed regent of the Heshun zongting; to prepare the way for the return of the Santiaogou refugees; and to allow the sultan some redress in his financial situation, which appears to have been desperate.
To bolster and promote the authority of Zheng Hong was certainly the most difficult task confronting him, but Willer did what he could. First the sultan of Sambas had to be coaxed into receiving Zheng. He had opposed this visit on the grounds that court etiquette forbade that Chinese be seated in the presence of the sultan. Willer managed to arrange for an exception to be made by pointing out that Zheng would be present as an emissary of the Dutch government. Agreeing to this, the sultan resolutely declined to take part in any conferences with the Chinese, delegating this task to the Pangeran Ratoe. Whether in fact he would have been able to attend is a question in point. Later Willer would describe the sultan as someone “equally feeble in spirit as in body: both already visible at an early age and also, in the long run, physically and mentally destroyed through opium. With some of his concubines he smokes fifteen guilders worth a day. Although he is timorous and vacillating in character, he can fly into fits of rage which border on insanity. The other day he drew his kris against his little son, because he surprised the little lad with an opium pipe in his mouth.”
Next to be contacted were the leaders of Santiaogou. Willer assured them that the government had not forgotten them in their exile after their defeat at Sepang. Now everything would be done to bring the refugees back from Sarawak. In order to conform to the new policy regarding the kongsis, they also had to change their status and, like Dagang, Shiwufen and Lintian had done, choose a new name (sic!) . Naturally, the members of Santiaogou were most happy to oblige, as this gave them the opportunity to become, at least in name, the equal of the Heshun zongting. The name they chose was therefore in keeping with this ambition: Sanda Zongting 三達總廳, literally, the “General Parliament of the Three Achievements”.  After everything had been settled, Zheng Hong arrived on July 20.
He came borne in a palanquin, with a retinue of one hundred. His first visit was to the Resident. Having been received, he produced the 160 taël of gold and offered this sum to the Dutch government as a token of the sincere remorse of the entire population of Montrado. He then reported on the progress made under his rule. The next day he made his protocol visit to the sultan of Sambas.
Subsequent deliberations with the leaders of Santiaogou did not go so smoothly. The bone of contention was not the possession of the rice fields and mines of Sepang but a house, a residence which allegedly had been built by the Heshun zongting to serve as an office (gonguan 公館) at the time when Santiaogou was still part of the alliance. It had long been abandoned and neglected. But when the new deal by the Dutch government opened up prospects for the return of Santiaogou to Sambas, the latter took the initiative of having the building repaired. The estimated sum for this was set at no less than 6000 guilders. The Montrado Heshun zongting was asked to contribute, but refused. The repair work was therefore financed by three parties: Santiaogou (from Sarawak), the sultan of Sambas, and Zhu Fenghua (former “Captain Sing-sang”), each paying one-third. The recently appointed governors of the “Sanda zongting” had taken possession of the place and a wooden tablet with its new name was hung above the main gate. The inauguration of these new headquarters took place on July 19.
When Zheng Hong arrived the next day, he was lodged in a small house with his assistants. All the other members of his numerous retinue had to stay on the prahus on which they had come. This was more than Zheng Hong could bear. He declared his intention of taking up residence in the former gongguan, showed his opposition to the grandiloquent name of “Sanda zongting” which the small remnant of Santiaogou present in Sambas had adopted, and finally he voiced his dissent against the latter’s exclusive rights to all the land of Sepang. Montrado still held a fortress at Sepang, and was not ready to give the place up. But instead of making a big show of protest, he went to Willer privately in order to talk things over. Willer has given us an account of that remarkable meeting which took place in the evening of July 23. It says:
Zheng Hong, whose firm and resolute character I have come to appreciate long since, came to me in a desperate frame of mind and asked me for a private meeting, saying “Sir, you have planted a tree in a bare and stormy land. If that tree is sustained it will soon take root so that it can withstand the storm and grow leaves and fruit. But should you now, as the storm is about to break, deprive this tree, the roots of which have just begun to grow, of its support, then it will fall and will never rise again. I am this tree, you are its support, the bare land is Montrado and the storm is blowing from Sepang and the house of Sing Sang. In short: I have been recognized as Jiatai, but I have been obliged to give into the masses on some points. In any case, I do not dare to return to my home, and if Sepang is to be relinquished and if it is certain that it will be returned to our old enemy Santiaogou, then I hereby ask to be discharged. Let us therefore go and ask Batavia once more. In this way we can win some time, and I will see to it that it (Sepang) is delivered to you.” 
Willer could do no more than promise that the matter would be placed before the authorities in Batavia with the request they rescind their previous decision. For the time being, Sepang would be placed under the control of the Malays, with Pangeran Pakoe as administrator. All who wished to do so would be allowed to mine for gold, provided they did not owe allegiance to a kongsi or did not try to set up one. On July 25, Willer consulted the sultan of Sambas on the matter, but the old fox declared that he had no opinion whatsoever about whether or not Sepang should be returned to Santiaogou or given to Montrado.
At that time it was learned that Santiaogou originally had twelve major kongsi-mines at Sepang. There were also a number of private or co-operative mines. The other big mining centre was Seminis with forty smaller co-operative mines. In all, these mines had provided work for almost six hundred people. Since the events of June and July 1850, the administration of Santiaogou and of these mines had been transferred to Sarawak, where the headquarters of the kongsi were now situated. This was an anathema to Willer: here he was reactivating a strong Chinese corporation that had its headquarters in the dreaded kingdom of Raja Brooke! Such a relationship could facilitate the latter’s influence in the fledgling Dutch administration of West Borneo, something he was credited with having uppermost in his mind. Willer therefore turned to Santiaogou and said that this allegiance to Sarawak had to be relinquished immediately and that the name they had chosen for themselves was a clear proof of their wish for hegemony; it therefore had to go. Above all it was the word “san” (three) that appeared most insufferable to Willer, as it coincided with Santiaogou, which now was a Sarawak kongsi. This rather trifling matter subsequently erupted out of all proportion, and during the violent quarrel that ensued between the Resident and the Sanda spokesman, Du Feng, the latter declared that if the word “san” had to go, he and his fellow kongsi members would also go and leave for Sarawak. Thereupon they walked out in fury. They did not go to Sarawak at all however, but went to see their unfailing friend, the sultan of Sambas.
It was agreed that the building would revert to being a gongguan to be used by all kongsis. It would therefore be consecrated to the cult of Guansheng dijun (Guan gong), who, in Willer’s eyes, was the “patron saint of hospitality”. Andresen claims that Heshun had nevertheless to pay 3000 guilders (!) as rent for the place.  On July 26, Willer visited the house himself bearing a pair of lanterns inscribed with the name of Guansheng dijun, to consecrate the building to the great saint and thus give it its new function. His gesture was not universally appreciated as he met with armed resistance from a group of Santiaogou warriors who were assisted by troops of the Malay sultan! Someone even had the temerity to aim his gun at Willer who fled in disarray. He tried to make the Dutch garrison comander dislodge the armed occupants and send them packing, but the latter made so many conditions that the Resident was obliged to abandon this plan.
Willer now turned to the sultan, and after some armtwisting, managed to have the soldiers of Santiaogou and those of the sultan evacuate the gongguan. Two days later, on the 28th, Guansheng dijun was installed. A few “well-intentioned” Santiaogou men remained to guard their own Dabogong.
This being settled, the next day Zheng Hong came to see Willer and announced his intention of holding a great ceremony on August 2, to celebrate his assumption of office. First he would pay a visit to the sultan and the pangerans in the kraton, moving forward in a large procession embellished with banners, music and the firing of guns. Then he would repair to the gongguan and give a large party. Willer acceded, on condition that the place would not be transformed into his permanent office and that the people of Santiaogou would also be invited. Generously, Zheng Hong accepted, knowing well, no doubt, that all this was easier said than done.
When they heard about the feast, the guardians of the Dabogong of Santiaogou not only did not want to attend, but more seriously argued that it was impossible for their patron deity, Dabogong, to remain in the gongguan while these demons of Dagang held a banquet there. At this point Willer became acquainted with yet another of the intricacies of Chinese institutions. Having received two delegates from Santiaogou, he then launched himself into “long and protracted investigations” because he had become convinced that “the peace of the land would depend largely on this problem.” The first thing he learned was that it would not be so simple to remove the Dabogong from his sanctuary, inasmuch this patron deity was only the delegate of the great Dabogong of Sepang. When the majority of the members of the kongsi had fled from Sepang to Sarawak, they had taken along the “fire of the spirit” (the xianghuo) to their new home. As long as the Dabogong of Sepang continued to be venerated, even in Sarawak, Santiaogou and Dagang would be enemies. The long and short of it was that it was impossible for the two to remain under the same roof.  “Let’s take this Dabogong back to the mother shrine in Sarawak”, proposed Willer. This was rejected, as that would mean a lasting defeat. Then Willer suggested that the controversial statue be burned. That, said the delegates from Santiaogou, would be cruel, but feasible. Before this plan was executed, the sultan of Sambas proposed that the now homeless Dabogong statue would be welcome to stay in his kraton for a while. Willer then asked the sultan not to have the deity change his residence again without previously consulting the Dutch government.
As promised, Heshun evacuated the fortress of Sepang and submitted themselves to the authority of the Pangeran Pakoe. Now the problem of the Dabogong resurfaced, inasmuch as the former Santiaogou people now wanted to rebuild their sanctuaries, not in Sepang, as that shrine was now in Sarawak, but at Seminis and Pamangkat. They also declared that this would be the new Dabogong of the Sanda zongting, and not of the same cult (xianghuo) as that of the former Santiaogou. This Dabogong would therefore be independent of Sarawak. When Willer consulted Zheng Hong about the matter, the latter said that this was a step in the right direction, but not nearly enough. If there really was to be a new beginning, then the three Dabogong (Sepang, Seminis, and Pamangkat) first had to be merged into one new Dabogong, then a new location had to be found as far as possible from Sepang, and the guardians of the cult had to be new people, with little or no relationship to the old guard, as “the hatred of men is even stronger than the hatred of gods”. 
When Willer subsequently argued that a community of the faithful (“gemeente”) should be left free in its choice of worship and leaders, Zheng Hong proposed that it would be better for Sepang to be placed under the authority of a Dutch official, with an adequate military force to back them up. As we shall see, Willer adopted this proposal and made it the cornerstone of his policy.
The name “Sanda zongting” having been rescinded by Willer on July 25, the members of Santiaogou now came up with a new proposal. On July 31, they approached the Resident to ask his permission to adopt the designation “Hexian Zhengting” 和現正廳, the “Legitimate Parliament of the Harmonies Present”. He acquiesced in this. At the same time the question of the Dabogong was put on the negotiating table. After “protracted discussions” and “with unanimous agreement” the following solution was adopted: the spirit of the Dabogong of Pamangkat would be joined to the spirits of those of Sepang and Seminis which were already united in one and the same incense-burner. Out of these three a priest would then forge a single Dabogong, who would be the protector of the Hexian zhengting. The ritual portrait of Pamangkat would be used as image of the Dabogong. It would be acknowledged that this Dabogong was independent of the one at Sarawak. This ceremony took place on August 3.
Having accomplished all this, Zheng Hong could finally celebrate his installation and political victory in the gongguan of Sambas. The delegates of the former Santiaogou – now Hexian zhengting – had politely refused the invitation, but had added that, as soon as they had their own Jiatai, they too would give a banquet and invite those of Montrado. Then, a few days later, they went to Willer and asked for the immediate installation of such a leader and the secession of Sepang. Willer did not want to ask them who had pushed them to be so bold (the sultan seemed a prime suspect). He thereupon went to see the latter and told him categorically that Sepang was not to be given to Hexian, but would be administered by a Dutch official. The sultan agreed, but also brought the question of the Chinese taxes into the discussion, since the Chinese had not paid anything for more than forty years. The question which now remained outstanding was the poll tax to be paid by the Dayaks. They still had to pay their Malay overlords, even if and when they lived among the Chinese. How could this problem be resolved? 
Commander Andresen, although critical of Willer’s “indulgence” towards Zheng Hong, agreed that a military occupation of Sepang made excellent sense, not least from a strategic point of view.
All seemed to be going well, and Willer gave a detailed and very open account of his actions in a long letter to the Governor-General dated August 22. At the end of it he announced his intention of embarking on short notice, if the situation allowed it, on the steam-vessel Borneo to go to Batavia. He voiced the hope that he could explain more by word of mouth in one day than during a month of correspondence, and that he might present his case and obtain authorization for the military occupation of Sepang. Willer reached the capital of the Dutch East Indies in the first days of September, full of confidence. Little did he suspect it would be eight months before he could return to Pontianak.
A Change in Government Policy
Willer must have ignored the fact that during the four months that had elapsed since he visited the Governor-General with the three delegates of the Heshun zongting, many things had changed. Rochussen had resigned his office in June 1851 with the feeling that he had left the West Borneo question unresolved. In the speech he made at the ceremony of transfer on May 12, 1851, he mentioned this problem explicitly and called for an end to the policy of non-interference. Whatever may have happened before, said he, “I consider it fortunate that a shock has occurred which necessitates that the present state of affairs be terminated, leaving the Dutch authority free to exert itself in a more dignified manner and the Dutch flag will no longer be sneered at. ”
Governor-General Duymaer van Twist, who succeeded him, was a confirmed advocate of the use of military force. For a long time, Penning Nieuwland, one of his advisors, had been of the opinion that the matter of West Borneo could only be resolved by strong measures. Given this combination, the period of non-intervention had come to an end.
So radically had the tide turned that when Willer presented himself for an audience at the office of the Governor-General on September 3, 1851, he was told that the Governor-General would not see him. Instead, he was given a copy of a “secret decision” on the West Borneo problem which the Governor-General had adopted on August 22, the very date of Willer’s last letter from which we quoted above. The general gist of these decisions was that Willer’s proposals could not be accepted inasmuch as they amounted to recognizing a contractual status between the Dutch and the Chinese of Montrado. Legally this was out of the question because the latter were subjects of the sultan of Sambas, so that any decision on naming a “regent” (in this case Zheng Hong) and a “vice-regent” (Cai Wuxiu) would first have to be cleared with the sultan. The proposals on law enforcement and the judicial system could not be tolerated as this would form a precedent allowing forms other than the Dutch legal system to be introduced into the colony. There also could be no question of renouncing the payment of arrears in all the taxes and other financial claims, and so forth and so on. None of Willer’s proposals could therefore be officially approved. The Governor-General understood the problematic nature of the situation. On the one hand the Chinese were too powerful and had not been subdued militarily, nor would there be enough money and soldiers in the near future to do so. On the other hand the Chinese had shown themselves capable of carrying out their own administration fairly competently and had proved that they could develop the land better that any other group of inhabitants. It seemed a choice between two extremes. Either military repression or some kind of return to the “system of non-interference” should be envisaged. The Governor-General choose to contemplate only the first alternative. 
Willer felt mortified and in a long letter dated October 7, 1851,  he tried to explain and justify his actions and the initiatives he had launched, and to refute some of the more idiotic conclusions contained in the “secret decision”. He began by deploring the fact that the decision showed deep dissatisfaction with what he had accomplished in Pontianak in June (the choice of Zheng Hong), and continued with his disappointment with the fact that the document accused him of having failed to do the things which he had found beyond his capacity in Pontianak but had managed to bring about more recently in Sambas, achievements which had not been taken into consideration. Willer felt that he did not deserve any blame, an opinion only reinforced by the fact that he had only recently learned, in Batavia, of decisions which might have influenced his actions in Sambas, had he known of them at the time. The most important point he tries to make is that it is a fundamental error to consider the Heshun zongting to be a “vassal” of the sultan of Sambas. Their relationship is that of neighbouring states, of merchant to merchant, of opium-farmer to opium-retailer. Only the sultan of Sambas is a vassal of the Dutch government, and justly so because he accepted foreign domination in order that he might be protected against the Chinese. In the contracts the Dutch concluded with the sultan, the Chinese were explicitly placed outside the jurisdiction of the sultan. Only the recognition of these fundamental facts could henceforth place Dutch policy on a firm basis. This meant that only discussions conducted directly with the Chinese about the ways in which they could be given an acceptable place within the colonial system could offer a solution. Willer’s analysis of the situation and his proposals are very well framed and cogently argued, and would have, if they had been promptly and wholeheartedly accepted, initiated an entirely new policy towards the Chinese, giving to their “kongsis” (in fact their republican states, as Willer says over and over again) a status on an equal level to that of the Malay sultanates. Such an evolution could have been of great importance to the history of West Borneo.
In the meantime, the Governor-General had received the documents that Willer had sent on the events at Sambas, and he therefore had a clearer idea of the present situation. Nothing was settled yet, he agreed in a letter of October 6, 1852. The regentschap was established, but the Montrado kongsis also remained in power. Willer attributed this to the fact that the promised new seals had not yet been made. The Governor-General also reacted positively to the opium scheme Willer had been proposing for a year. Willer had written that the reorganization of the opium farm in West Borneo might provide a way to finance the Chinese officials of the regentschap. It would also mean an end to smuggling and increase government revenues accordingly. It went without saying that ways and means of indemnifying the Pangeran Ratoe should be found.  But Willer also insisted that the octrooi of these privileges should be matched by sufficient military power to effect a blockade if and when the Montrado population showed any signs of duplicity or rebellion. Consequently, his ideas turned out to pose major problems.
This situation of letters, replies, protests, opposition and concession, in between bouts of illness for Willer, seems to have lasted several months. The main issues continued to be: (1) that Sepang, the bone of contention between Dagang and Santiaogou (or Heshun and Hexian if one wishes), should be placed under direct Dutch control; (2) that the opium concession be given to Zheng Hong and his party; (3) that increased military presence was needed to back this policy up. In the meantime, more elaborate plans were also proposed, discussed, and finally adopted. The most important of these are known as the Provisional Regulations on the Inner Administration of the Former Kongsi Lands of Montrado, Budok, and Lumar. Willer submitted this text to the Governor-General on October 21. He passed it on to the Raad van Indië which gave its assent on February 16.
Before that date, the council also had time to discuss the letters it had received from Willer, and in the middle of December it had brought a recommendation before the Governor-General. It agreed with what had been done provisionally. Willer should return to Sambas as soon as possible. There should be a military occupation of Sepang, and the regentschap of Montrado under Zheng Hong was deemed legitimate. Thereupon Willer finally obtained an audience with the Governor-General on December 18. Immediately afterwards, the unflagging knight of the quill gave an ultra-secret report to the Governor-General in which he again defended and explained his policy.  Assieged in this way, the Governor-General finally gave into everything and on February 16, 1852 he made a series of decisions which were now entirely in the spirit of what Willer had advocated and done. 
The Provisional Regulations were translated into Chinese so that they could be promulgated in Sambas. This was finally done in March 1852.  The bulk of the contents agreed with those laid down in the proces verbaal of 1851. Here follows the text:
1. Montrado, Budok, and Lumar are to be considered as one administrative unit, which is to be called “Heshun zongting”; the zongting is allowed to elect four candidates, from whom the Dutch will appoint one the regent, being the highest Chinese authority within this region.
2. The Dayak, Malay and other populations in the above-mentioned region are subject to the authority of their own rulers; offences or disputes between them and the Chinese have to be settled by the Dutch officials.
3. The Assistant-Resident of Sambas will allow the Chinese headmen to take care of the following affairs:
– the laoda (village headman) will be elected by the tax-paying inhabitants of the population;
– nine zhazhu (district headmen) of Sungai Duri, Sungai Raya, Sedau, Singkawang, Selakau, Ledo, Lara, Budok, and Lumar will be nominated by the laoda, and appointed by the Resident and the Assistant-Resident of Sambas;
– the members of shenshiting 審事廳 (tribunals) will be nominated by the laoda and recognized by the Resident;
– the members of qiren zhuoyiting 七人酌議廳 (advisory council of seven men) are to be nominated and appointed in a similar way to those of the tribunals;
– the houbu Jiatai (the deputy-Jiatai, who exercises the function of district head in the township of Montrado) and the members of qiren zhuoyiting may deputize for the regent during his absence;
– the regent represents the Dutch authorities; he is under the direct command of the Assistant-Resident of Sambas; he supervises the policemen and criminal investigations and arranges the everyday affairs and finances of the land.
4. The police, kongsis, Chinese personnel, and other subordinates of the regent have to be in the possession of a certificate, and all have to obey the regent’s orders.
5. All matters concerning justice are to be investigated by the laoda, the zhazhu, the tribunals, and the council of seven men.
6. The financial administration will be revised; the regent will be responsible for all transactions, but he will be placed under the supervision of the Resident and Assistant-Resident.
7. Ships not flying the Dutch flag are not allowed to enter the harbours of Pontianak and Sambas, &c.; vessels sailing from Sambas and Pontianak to other harbours or river mouths also have to possess a certificate of approval signed by the Resident.
8. The Resident, the regent of Montrado, the Jiatai of Mandor and other administrators will establish regulations for those Chinese who return to their home land; Chinese immigrants to West Borneo, will be dealt with according to the regulation promulgated on March 31, 1846.
9. There is a strict prohibition on the membership of the Tiandihui. Alleged members are to be punished by the tribunals; if it is proven that membership only concerns the Laorenhui 老人會 (the old people’s association), the suspect is allowed to go free. The Resident will ask the Dutch authorities to send doctors to West Borneo to fight smallpox and also establish schools for the youth.
By now Willer’s policy had been generally accepted in Batavia, not so much because he had really convinced the authorities, but because they had no alternative for the time being and also wanted to give Willer a chance to complete what he had started to do.
Table 15: Monthly payments for personnel of the regentschap of Heshun
source: Young, “Bijdrage tot de geschiedenis van Borneo’s Westerafdeling”.
Willer finally returned to Sambas on April 28, 1852. But by then it was too late; all he had pieced together with so much patience during the three months of June, July, and August 1851 had come to naught. The sultan had constantly asked for money, but not received a penny. The other pangerans were also very angry. In the kraton, a “terrible concubine” appears to have wielded excessive power, revealing herself to be a staunch opponent to all foreigners – a kind of Cixi from Sambas! Sepang had been placed under the military guard of the Pangeran Pakoe, but he had long since left. At Montrado the situation was very confused and the party of Zheng Hong was in desperate straits. The different caikuxian had sabotaged the agreement with Willer and had nominated their own people as district heads, paying no heed at all to either the regent or the judge. Zheng Hong was still waiting for his seal of office! In the meantime the caiku for all their transactions used the seal of a “Heshun Futing” 和順副廳, as subsidiary to the great parliament that had once been founded but whose existence had been fleeting. Now the concept of such a “futing” came in handy as a means to legitimate a governing body which could take its place alongside the regentschap.
When Willer reported back to Batavia about the state of affairs he had found on his return, the Governor-General consulted the military department. Following the reports he had received from Andresen, General-Major Bakker agreed that the Malay sultans and their courts were nothing but a bunch of ne’er-do-wells and should be disbarred from taking part in the talks. The tricky part was that such a measure should not play into the hands of the Chinese. The most urgent matter was that the latter be taught a lesson and that there would be an end to the situation of having “a state within a state”. This amounted to the declaration that a military expedition should be launched against them. It should begin with a renewed blockade of the coast followed by a punitive expedition. This bellicose talk was not to the taste of the inherently cautious Raad van Indië. It disagreed, arguing that Holland owed the Malay sultan loyalty. Consequently, the opium scheme proposed by Willer was approved, but not the sending of additional troops, which made the idea of sustained coastal blockade as a means of bringing the party opposed to Zheng Hong in Montrado to heel, downright impossible.
This rift in Batavia repeated itself on a more modest scale in West Borneo. It is unclear whether Willer and Andresen disagreed first – a quarrel which subsequently passed on to their superiors, or the reverse. The fact remains that the ideas of Andresen, who at first had seemed to be in perfect harmony with Willer, now seriously diverged from him. Andresen had formed his own opinion about the situation and the ways with which it should be dealt, and before long the two men were at loggerheads. In a report to his superiors dated July 17, 1852, therefore not long after the return of Willer, the commanding officer tells of his travels in West Borneo and comes to the conclusion that the new regentschap institution does not wield any power or influence. He is also convinced that Zheng Hong speaks with a forked tongue, because he must maintain staunch relations with to the mineworker party in Montrado; if he did not achieve this balancing act, he would not be tolerated in the place for a minute more. In conclusion he states:
– Apparently everything is quiet among the Chinese; their general frame of mind is peace- loving enough and they now do need peace.
– The kongsi government still holds the highest authority, but it has been weakened; whereas the regentschap does not exercise any authority and exists thanks to the authority of the kongsi.
– As long as the regions inhabited by the Chinese are not placed directly under the governance of the Dutch authorities, the kongsi will be the only system which, because of its peculiar institutions, will work with them, the sole system that has the means to maintain order and the only one that can reasonably be made responsible in case of unlawful actions, if and when the Chinese commit them.
– If there is a continuous effort to destroy the kongsi system as a general body of authority, at first this goal will only seemingly be reached; the inevitable upshot will be a continuous weakening of the kongsi authority, with the impossibility of substituting another kind of strong government for it. In the long run the situation will degenerate into anarchy. 
In a later letter he roundly opposed the occupation of Sepang as planned by Willer. A thorough investigation had revealed the place to be unsuitably situated (in contradiction to his own words of a year earlier). A blockade of the coast was also deemed not advisable. Andresen believed that the Chinese wanted peace, that they were peace-loving. No offensive actions should be expected from them, as long as the Dutch left them in peace. But any military action on the Dutch side would again provoke a violent response.
In this letter Andresen completely disavowed Willer’s efforts towards a gradual transformation of the kongsi from a political to a commercial institution. For the time being however Andresen’s influence remained slight. In their decision of October 6, 1852, the Raad van Indië and the Governor-General hedged their bets and opted for a compromise: they gave the green light to the opium scheme so that Willer could show that it was a useful measure, but did not want to attempt any more military actions. The attitude was: “wait and see – if Willer can deliver the goods he has promised us”.  The resolution also ordered Willer to work under all circumstances in close co-operation with Andresen. But a few weeks later, on October 28, Willer wrote to the Governor-General informing him that any co-operation with Andresen was out of the question. He argued that he, Willer, had been the only person since Francis who had bothered to discuss problems directly, face to face, with the Chinese taking due note of their respective interests. He pointed out that his action in this had been approved time and again. Now Andresen was publicly challenging him, indicating that a rift had grown between them and that they had become political opponents, so that any co-operation between the two was now past history. Indeed, Andresen had told Willer to his face that his policy of organizing the administration of Montrado through the Provisional Regulations was nothing but a chimera! He therefore asked his superiors to be relieved of the obligation to collaborate with Andresen. Poor Willer! Had he only known what would come of his idealistic vision.
The Willer Conferences
This was all a prelude to a very interesting episode. Resident Willer was, as has emerged, not only a great opponent but also in a way an admirer and interested observer of the Chinese. He engaged himself in an unprecedented effort to make the mighty kongsis submit to the Dutch authorities, in a way that was both peaceful and effective. Needless to say he was now under great pressure to press ahead and show his superiors that his policy was the right one.
Upon receipt of the Government Ordinance of October 6, Willer set about implementing the opium scheme. On October 21, he held a conference with Liu Asheng of Mandor in which he presented his plans. Liu saw that the measure would entail a higher opium price for the users in Mandor, but declared that he would go along with it if the Resident really thought it would be beneficial to the whole country.  This agreement reached, the Resident now sent a message to Zheng Hong to ask him to come to Pontianak and discuss matters in more detail. But Zheng did not come. Instead, he delegated two of his aides. They explained that the opium scheme was fine as far as the bazaar of Montrado was concerned, but that the corollary, that is the condition that the seal of Dagang be handed over to Willer to be destroyed, had not even merited a discussion. They were confident, they said, that when the advantages of the opium scheme began to reveal themselves, such a measure could be envisaged, but that in any case the reaction of the ordinary people could not be foreseen. Willer’s typical response was to send the delegates back with a letter full of well-meaning admonitions and pleas. He recommended caution to Zheng Hong and told him not to expose himself to the wrath of his fellow countrymen by making too much song and dance about the need to hand over the seal. When the rumours about the situation in Montrado still continued to be rather alarming, he immediately wrote a second letter in which he tried to dispel any fears concerning a possible lack of respect by his side for the sanctity of Dagang’s great seal of authority. He wrote that:
he was all too well aware that, according to Chinese ideas, the seal had been placed under the protection of a spirit which itself was an emanation of the Supreme Being; that he had too great a veneration for the Supreme Being to ever be able to harm the belief, albeit in another form, in Him; that he therefore would certainly shrink from anything that would show disrespect to this spirit, but would proceed to have the seal burned according to the rites prescribed by Chinese religion, in order that the spirit might ascend to Heaven with the smoke and later might descend again upon the new seal. 
It is difficult to judge what kind of impression these well-meaning words made on the Heshun parties. We do know that in an answer Zheng Hong wrote dated November 21, he reported that at long last he had discussed the matter of the seal and the name of the Dagang kongsi in a large meeting, and had found that four-fifth of all those assembled there had categorically refused to relinquish either the seal or the name. He still showed no worries about his own safety, but he had moved his wife and children to Sambas in case trouble should erupt. Were this to happen, he warned Willer, the latter should also take care.
On 8 December the people of Heshun met again, and this time more than one thousand persons were present. Almost one week later, the meeting was still in full swing and no decision had been reached. Zheng Hong and his officials had been threatened more than once with assassination. Zheng squarely faced the crowd of opponents and told them that he would not go to Pontianak except with the seal, and that the latter would be handed over on condition that all important matters be agreed upon. If the discussions could not take place because of the absence of the seal, a new war with the Dutch would be inevitable, and the people would have only themselves to blame. Zheng must have been a man of great eloquence, because he succeeded in convincing the majority of those present. He was allowed to take the seal, but on the condition that Willer would give a written guarantee that no more sacrifices would be asked of “the nation of the Dagang Chinese”, that is to say: he should never demand that they hand over their weapons and ammunition, nor the sacred painting that hung in their kongsi house.  Their final request was that the district heads be chosen democratically by and from the masses of the miners without any interference from either the Resident or the regent, and that these heads would be changed, just as the heads of the kongsis were, three times a year.
Zheng Hong took possession of the seal and left immediately for Pontianak to take
it to Willer. How he really got it is a matter for speculation. Von Dewall, who, in his capacity as assistant to Commissioner A. Prins wrote a detailed report on the events to which we now are coming, states that the bookkeeper of Shangwu, Huang Zhu, who had access to the seal, took it out of the place where it was kept. He handed the seal to Liu Zhudong of Lumar who kept it with him as far as Sungai Duri; there it was taken over by Wu Zhu of Montrado. It was the latter who brought it to Pontianak and handed it over to Willer. Before Huang Zhu had handed over the seal, however, Zhong Lao, at the time supervisor of the Shangwu, had had the opportunity to stamp a large number of blank sheets of paper with the seal, on which a multitude of orders were later issued in the name of the kongsi! Later Zhong Lao and Liao Erlong would make a new seal identical to the old one, which was not a difficult feat.
That the whole affair was not very straightforward, but a maze of stratagems and subterfuges is also betrayed by other facts. The leader of the opposition party Liao Erlong had voiced his dissatisfaction with the transfer of the seal to Pontianak for the sake of the negotiations, and tried to win the population over to his way of thinking. He openly accused Zheng Hong of being a traitor, implying that in this way, he wanted to clear the way for his unbridled domination of his fellow countrymen. Other influential persons such as Zhu Yi of the Shangwu, and Wen Bing and Zeng Liang of the Xiawu even threatened that they would kill Zheng if he took the seal to Pontianak.
Apparently undeterred by the seething resentment, Zheng set out for his meeting with Willer. He was accompanied by nine deputies from the bazaar of Montrado, no doubt attracted by the opportunity to get hold of an opium farm. The most important among these was Wu Changgui, the leader of the merchants and the richest man in Montrado. There were also three men from the Shangwu, three from the Xiawu, and two each from Lara, Budok and Lumar. Therefore there were essentially three groups: (1) the representatives of the regentschap and the bazaar party; (2) the representatives of Dagang, from Shangwu and Xiawu; (3) the representatives of the three affiliated regional kongsis. This delegation had been in readiness for some time and was not constituted at the last moment. 
Willer was pleasantly surprised when, against all odds, Zheng Hong and his party arrived in Pontianak with the precious seal. The next day (December 22), he called a meeting – the first of a series of thirteen conferences – with all those who had come from Montrado. To the group he added the Assistant-Resident from Sambas as well as the Captains of the Chinese from there and of Pontianak (how the officials from Sambas happened to be in Pontianak is not clear). According to Young  that first day Willer started by asking the delegates from the Shangwu and the Xiawu if they, as proof of their authorization, had brought the seal. When they confirmed this, Willer had the seal authenticated and then put it on a special little table within the reach of those who had brought it. Thereupon all the Chinese began to speak at once about the conditions under which the seal had been brought. Willer silenced them and then began one of those long-winded argumentations at which he excelled. He retraced the entire history of the conflict, from the smuggling affair at Sedau up to the events at Sambas in May, June, and July 1851. He restated that, because of the undying hatred between Dagang and Santiaogou, there could only be peace if both kongsis renounced their names and seals.
He then commented on the present situation. The most salient point was that the Provisional Regulations had to be obeyed. At present the Dagang kongsi still continued to usurp the rights and authority that belonged solely to the king of the Netherlands. He, Willer, would not rest before this state of affairs was brought to an end and the difficulties regarding Santiaogou and Sepang had been settled. The first condition was that the kongsi of Montrado would change its name and hand over its seal, there being no clearer way to demonstrate the fact that its nature had now changed, that it had renounced its political and judicial authority and had now become nothing more than a commercial institution. The administration of the country of Heshun was now entrusted to a new body, the regentschap. This administration had been appointed by Willer on the recommendation of the people. The (Dagang) kongsi from now on would limit its activities to financial affairs and gold-digging. In order to allow the new administration to remunerate its officers and also to pay the annual taxes to the government and the war debt of the former kongsi, the government had allowed it to use the income derived from opium rights for a period of two years (1853 and 1854).
When all this had been duly translated and it had been ascertained that what had been said had also been well understood, Willer asked the essential question; did they agree to hand over the seal and abolish the name of the kongsi? Should this be the case, he would confer a new name and seal on it, which the kongsi would accept in its quality of a commercial institution, and give the corresponding new seals and flags to the officials of the regentschap. As this was a weighty question, the delegates were allowed to think it over, and the meeting was adjourned until the next day.
It would take up too much space to follow here the step by step evolution of the discussions which occurred during the many meetings that followed. What follows is a general outline:
At first Willer questioned the men from the kongsis of Dagang and its two affiliated kongsis. They were full of praise for Willer and his Provisional Regulations (“they are as if they had been drawn up by a Chinese in China!” they said). Fulsome words are not actions though and they procrastinated. Willer saw through their pretence and in next to no time had extracted the truth. They had not officially been delegated and authorized by the Dagang kongsi to hand over the seal and have it burned. Were this to happen they would be killed on their return to Montrado. Willer was furious and declared that as they did not have any proper authority, he could not implement the opium scheme and let them have the income from the farm. He would auction the opium concession right away, here in Pontianak.
Greatly taken aback, the bazaar party and Zheng Hong tried to make Willer change his mind. They argued that if they were now finally given the seals and the flags, the authority of the regentschap would be accepted and all the rest would follow. If only the Dutch had kept their promise! As they had been too dilatory about providing these, the people of Montrado had lost faith. The representatives of the regentschap had not even dared to put on the braided caps the Dutch had given them. When Willer had sent some official Dutch sabres, this had caused quite a sensation, but not enough. Only when all the trappings of authority had been properly bestowed would the people of Montrado see that the Dutch really did want to give them their own government. Only then would they submit. As Willer had now shown these insignia to them, at least a few emissaries might be sent to Montrado to tell the people they really existed. Then they certainly would be ready to have the seal burned.
Willer was sceptical. He said that because the Dagang delegates had no true mandate to have the seal burned and to have the name changed (into Shangxiawu gongsuo 上下屋公所), he had no alternative but to have the opium farm auctioned. He called upon Kater, the harbourmaster and addressed him, in front of the delegates, in Malay, so that the Chinese could follow what he said. Kater left with Zheng Hong and the others. Subsequently, with his help, a syndicate was formed in which Dagang was represented, that bought the farm when it was actioned off that same afternoon. The price paid was 145,200 guilders, whereas the opium scheme as originally set up by Willer would have allowed them to have it for 96,000. The reason Willer pressed ahead was because the matter of the opium concession had to be settled before the end of the year 1852, and that was only seven days away.
When this had been settled, Willer allowed Zheng to send his emissaries to Montrado. When they came back, they reported that all was now arranged, but that there were still problems about the question of the seal. The people in Montrado feared that Willer would have the seal paraded through Sambas or even in Batavia as a war trophy in order to ridicule them now that they had capitulated. They would rather die than to bear such shame. Willer refuted this accusation indignantly and this again gave him the opportunity to demonstrate his religious empathy with the Dabogong cult.
After many more discussions in which Zheng Hong sometimes agreed with everything, then again procrastinated, then excused himself, at last everybody agreed to go ahead with the burning and sending off of the Dabogong, so that he might then again descend into the new seals of the commercial kongsi.
Von Dewall also records the preceding events as follows:
The Oracle of the Shangwu, the Sanwangye, was consulted. Through the mouth of the tongshen (medium), Yan Zhuang, pronounced that the seal would be burned and the seal and flag of the government accepted; because of this the kongsi, it was true, would become subordinate to the Government; that it was to be foreseen that the government to which they yielded an inch would later on demand an ell; that, however, the Sanwangye, whenever matters came to such a pass, would find the means to help himself. A letter with the same contents was thereupon written by the kongsi to its deputies at Pontianak. Xian Yue and Zheng Donggui conveyed it to Pontianak. Zheng Hong, after having acquainted himself with the contents of the letter and having notified the Resident about them, still advised this official to refrain from burning the seal, and stubbornly refused to give his permission to do so.
Now the other deputies drew up a document in which they declared that they took upon themselves the consequences of the burning of the seal of Dagang and the acceptance of the flag and seal of the government besides. They promised to support the regent in everything. Zheng Hong, no longer daring to resist, gave his consent, and the seal of Dagang was burned. The government flags and seals were handed over to the deputies, and the deputies left Pontianak on the 12th day of the 12th month in the year renzi (January 20, 1853).
The great day set for the ceremony was January 14, 1853. A Taoist Master from Montrado officiated, assisted by two priests from Pontianak. One taël of gold was their fee, two-thirds of which as for the head priest and the rest to be divided by the others and the assistants. The place was on the left bank of the Kapuas River, in front of the official residence. The altar was set up beneath the Dutch flagpole. The schooner Doris was docked at the same site, and would fire a multitude of shots in salute at the appropriate moments.
That day it rained, but at eleven a.m. the sky cleared and the proceedings could start. The ritual began with the lighting of the candles on the altar. Then three sticks of incense were offered up by the main officiant (i.e. the Master). Through this ritual Yuhuang dadi 玉皇大帝 was invoked. At that moment the Doris fired cannon shots in salute.
Then the seal of Dagang was taken out of its red silk wrapping and placed on the incense burner. Tea and wine were presented, three times in succession, and sacrificial money was burned. The next step was the reading of the memorial which contained the solemn oaths and prayers. Thereupon the seal was thrown into the fire brazier that was kept burning next to the altar. “At that moment”, writes Willer, “the spirit, that is the Dabogong, leaves the material object – that is, the Dagang seal – which has been consecrated to him, and ascends to Heaven. Then all Europeans take off their hats and the Chinese prostrate themselves.” The Doris again fired three salutes.
The memorial was burned in the brazier with sacrificial money. The Master declared that the spirit of the Dabogong had departed and that the ashes of the seal with all the other ashes in the brazier now had to be transported to the river and deposited in the water, so that they would not be defiled by human hands. Some Chinese delegates and one of the Europeans escorted the remains to the river. The golden umbrella (payong) of the Resident was held over the brazier during this procession. At the moment the remains were thrown in the river, the Doris again fired three shots.
After this the second service at the altar began, like the preceding one, embellished with incense and salutes. This time the text of the oath of loyalty and obedience to which the Chinese officials were asked to give their promise was inserted into the memorial. Again the Doris fired a salute. Then Willer himself came forward and, in the name of the Dutch government, asked each of the officials to affirm his loyalty. Then he handed each of them the flag and seal of their office. During these proceedings, the batteries of nearby Fort Du Bus fired a twenty-one gun salute.
Finally there was a third service, this time for the consecration of the new miners’society that would take the place of old Dagang, so that there could be no misunderstanding that the former kongsi had shed its political character and had now assumed a new identity as a commercial organization under the new name of “Shangxiawu gongsuo”. The priest invoked the spirit of the Dabogong to descend into this new seal, and then handed it to Willer, who gave it to the delegates of Montrado. The Doris fired the last three-shot salute, marking the end of the ritual.
A great banquet was given at two o’clock in the afternoon by Assistant-Resident Van Prehn and Secretary Hardenberg. All the important Chinese from Pontianak and Sambas were invited, as well as the Malays. The latter could not come as the table was
laden with dishes of pork. But all in all, there were over sixty guests, who ate and drank until six p.m., behaving decorously. A number of toasts were made by the Europeans and Chinese. Zheng Hong first proposed to drink to the glory and longevity of the King of the Netherlands and his representative in Batavia. After the official toasts, one by one the Chinese gave speeches and toasts in which they showed, said Willer, a wealth of intelligence and gaiety. Some sixty bottles of wine, beer, champagne, brandy, and Madeira were consumed, of which Young has published a detailed list. 
Fig. 8. Scene of the Taoist ceremony for the buning of the Dagang seal at Pontianak
At the end of the ceremony, at which the seals and the flags of Dagang kongsi were burned, the Dutch authorities offered new insignia to replace them. In the recently accessed “Nota bij eene verzameling van zegelafdrukken der Chineesche kongsi’s in de Westerafdeeling van Borneo”  by Schaank, the inscriptions of the original seals which were used by the Dagang kongsi, the Santiaogou kongsi (Sepang, Pamangkat, Sarawak, Seminis, Lara), the Lintian kongsi, the Shiwufen kongsi, the Xinwu kongsi, the Heshun kongsi (Dagang, Lintian, and Shiwufen), the Lanfang kongsi, and so forth during the period of 1823-1854 have been preserved. This notebook also preserves samples of the new seals that were issued by the Dutch and used in 1853-1854. Among them are the seal of “The regent of Heshun zongting, by order of the Emperor of Holland” and seals belonging to the zhazhu of nine different districts, bearing inscriptions like: “Zhazhu of Heshun Zongting”.
What had really been accomplished? “The submission of the rebels was complete” wrote Andresen in a letter to his superiors of March 2, 1853. Willer himself was less sanguine. Right after the termination of the conferences and the solemn ritual he wrote to the Governor-General to “congratulate him on the irrevocable sacrifice which the Dagang kongsi has made to our sovereignty and to peace.” He added that its seal had been burned with so much publicity and pomp of such a nature that according to a great multitude of Chinese and autochthonous witnesses, the provocative symbol of independence will never be revived.  Privately, Willer wrote in his notes that the continuous firing of cannon shots was necessary to enhance the solemnity. Perhaps in the back of his mind he thought that they were also a good reminder of Dutch military power. In any case, he states that he would certainly have preferred to see the shadow of the Dutch bayonets cast over the Taoist altar of the ceremonies of January 14. He sincerely hoped that the stratagem would work, but at the same time felt very worried that he did not have at his disposal a true force for coercion if it did not. Should Montrado choose to be rebellious, only a renewed blockade would do. And this had been refused by Batavia.
A few days later, the discussions resumed, now concentrated on financial matters. During the twelfth meeting on January 18, the Chinese made pressing demands for money. First they wanted Willer to reimburse them for the difference between the price of the opium concession they paid at the auction (145,200 guilders) and that which they would have paid originally in exchange for giving up the seal under the conditions of the “opium scheme” (96,000), that is no less than 49,200 guilders, from which they then would pay the emoluments of their officials. Willer was not averse to this measure – in fact he had been forced to promise some kind of compensation on the day of the auction when the nine delegates of the regentschap surrounded him and pressed him very hard to help them and not abandon his good and loyal old friends!  So, writes Willer, we have a case of submission in exchange for financial help.
More was necessary. Zheng Hong had explained that he and his colleagues from Montrado had now spent every cent they had ever had, and were completely destitute. In order to install the new order, and simply to hoist the Dutch flag at the ten spots that had been designated, no less than ten festive banquets had to be financed. The sum necessary for this flag-raising would be in the region of five thousand guilders.  This was agreed. Then Zheng Hong also asked for money for himself: he had once had fifteen hundred guilders to his name, but the costs of keeping up his rank and standing in Montrado during the long months of Willer’s absence had forced him to contract a debt of two thousand guilders. He was now constantly pursued by his creditors, causing him in a severe loss of face. Could Willer give him thirty-five hundred guilders? Willer refused, as he saw no reason to do so, whereupon Zheng reminded him: “During our audience with Rochussen, he said to me that in case of any difficulty whatsoever I could turn to you as his representative for help. You cannot now let me get back to Montrado as someone who is incapable of paying his debts and therefore not worthy of esteem!” Willer tried to extricate himself from the predicament by saying how difficult it was for government officials to spend public money, whereupon Zheng said: “Then give me salt! Salt is also money!” After protracted discussions about how much salt Zheng should get, they finally settled on six hundred piculs (30,000 kgs). Willer was happy about this outcome, as the true price paid by the government for this load of salt was just one thousand guilders.  And so ended the twelfth conference.
The thirteenth and last conference took place the next morning on January 19, 1853. The five thousand guilders for “installation costs” (flag raising and the like) were provided, plus the six hundred piculs of salt for Zheng Hong. The register of new officials was drawn up and these were confirmed in their responsibilities, of course with all kinds of exhortations by Willer. As the new regentschap was quite broke, Willer also advanced the money for the salaries of the officials for the first quarter. Now everyone could return home.
Zheng Hong and Wu Changgui set out for Sambas on a government patrol boat on January 26 to arrange matters pertaining to the opium concession, and arrived there two days later. The other delegates returned to Montrado, which they reached on January 26. Wu Changgui continued his journey to Montrado from Sambas, as he had nothing to fear. But before leaving Pontianak, Zheng Hong had asked two men of his party whom he could trust, Wen Lao and Chen Lian, to investigate the situation in Montrado and see whether it was safe for him to return. When he received no news from them, he began to fear the worst. Thereupon a certain Liu Song of Lumar wrote him a letter to report that the situation was desperately unfavourable and that it would be dangerous for him to return. A similar message arrived from his nephew, Zheng De Ö£µÂ, telling him that if he was seen in Montrado, he would certainly be killed, and the bearer of the letter, Gu Feitang, told him the same. So Zheng Hong waited. Finally, on February 6, 1853, a certain Zheng Nan arrived from Montrado with a message from Zheng Hong’s uncle, Zheng Yongzong 鄭永宗, who was supervisor at the Xiawu at the time, stating he would most certainly be put to death were he to return to Montrado. Zheng Hong understood that his fate was sealed and that he had to remain where he was. On that very day, the new Commissioner of Borneo, Mr A. Prins, arrived at Sambas. A new episode in the history of the kongsis was about to begin.
The rift between Willer and Andresen had become public knowledge in Batavia. Willer’s letter of October 28 (see above) in which he asked that he no longer be obliged to work with the military commander, had been received and discussed. As it happened, Andresen was in Batavia at that time. The Governor-General was aware of the fact that the latter had travelled extensively through West Borneo and had many contacts with the Chinese there. He therefore asked the officer to give his version of the situation. On December 18, 1852, Andresen presented a report in which he set forth with great detail and precision what his understanding of the situation was.  It is a remarkable document. Andresen had come to know West Borneo and its Chinese well, better in many respects than had Willer. He shows insight, not only into the situation of the Chinese, but also into that of the Malays and is especially sensitive to the plight of the Dayaks. Willer was sympathetic to the Chinese, respecting them and their religion, but he was also naive. Andresen had fought the Chinese, he understood the strength and nature of their institutions. He was therefore more realistic. He had also understood that times had changed, that the accommodations sought by Willer in keeping with the policy of the least possible interference should now be relegated to the past. The chief-of-staff of the colonial army, the Count of Saksen-Weimar had previously stated that: “in Borneo we must have only subjects”, thereby indicating there was no further room for any discussions and agreements with the Chinese. Only orders from above would do. As a result Andresen foresaw the need for a mighty army and the military occupation of all kongsis (messages of October and November 1850).
Andresen’s report also had the great advantage of being perfectly clear, in contrast to Willer’s well-meaning but terribly long-winded prose. He set out to describe in detail the social and political situation at Sambas, the arrival of the Chinese miners, and the conditions that favoured the development of their partnerships into political institutions. Then he dealt with the policies of the Malay sultans who constantly set the Dayaks against the Chinese and then squeezed the latter dry in exchange for protection. They had actually forced the Chinese to set up their own defence organizations. The absence of any true Dutch authority in West Borneo until the 1820’s gave these organizations the opportunity to develop into full-scale political, economic and military entities. Andresen described the inner workings of the kongsi institutions in detail and then showed that these had become so interwoven with Chinese society in West Borneo that they could not be changed without exerting the greatest possible coercion.
Andresen then went on to report on the events of the last few decades: the rift between Dagang and Santiaogou, the smuggling incident at Sedau, and the battle of Pamangkat. At that time, he believed Dagang was exhausted and could have been dealt with in an exemplary way. But all this had gone by the board as much of the Dutch advantage had been lost at the conference table. He was critical of the scheme to somehow unite Santiaogou and Dagang under a single regentschap. He disavowed the support given to Zheng Hong at Sambas, because the latter had no real power in Montrado. He then went on to demonstrate that a scheme for uniting deadly enemies was impossible to enforce. He also very clearly exposed the present predicament of the government. In order to have the regentschap accepted, it had to reinforce the authority and financial foundations of Zheng Hong and the bazaar party in Montrado, but by doing so it antagonized all the other parties. As Zheng Hong and his allies had no real power, all transactions with them did not carry any weight, but only served to make any settlement more difficult and thus endangered the future. All agreements on the so-called regentschap would have been more easily and effectively settled if the government had dealt directly with the kongsis. Only they had any real say. They could not be neglected, and any move to lock them out of the administration of West Borneo was doomed to fail. His advice was to keep the kongsis in place, draw them into the peace process, and leave them, at least for the moment, all possible autonomy. The kongsi leadership should be united with the regentschap. At a later stage, measures to curb the power of the kongsis could be gradually enforced. For the present, failure to work with the kongsis would result in chaos and oblige the government to undertake a massive military intervention, amounting to nothing short of the effective occupation of all places of importance, including Montrado itself.
Andresen did not stop there. In his report, he started out with a concise but very effective analysis of the situation of the Dayaks, and in the second half of his text, he returned to this problem with great force. He showed that the aborigines of West Borneo had been the real losers. Exploited and oppressed, systematically exterminated, bereft of their land and all other means of subsistence, each crisis was to their detriment. The troubles over the last few years had resulted in a series of unprecedented massacres of entire Dayak settlements by the Chinese. The enforcement of the blockade meant that their meagre harvests were systematically taken away from them by Chinese and Malays alike. Andresen proposed a number of extensive measures to protect the Dayaks so as to ensure their survival and integration. “This is the only way forward”, he argued, “in which long-term peace and prosperity will have a chance to return.” In conclusion, Andresen stated that military power was not the solution, the problem would have to be resolved by a comprehensive policy towards all population groups with the greatest priority being given to the prevention of further armed conflicts. 
Ten days after Andresen handed in his report, the Raad van Indië and the Governor-General had already reached their conclusion: they were convinced by Andresen’s arguments. The way they understood things was that the pacifistic measures taken by Willer would not result in anything tangible; indeed, military coercion with the possibility of renewed armed conflict could be envisaged again. As the civil and military commands in the region were no longer working together, the government decided to send a commissioner in the person of A. Prins to tackle the situation.  This decision had already been taken when the reports about Willer’s conferences and their mitigating results reached Batavia. The seal was burned, the submission of the Chinese was complete, yet Willer forcefully asked for increased military backing in order to reinforce a blockade. Now the need to send a commissioner was felt to be even more urgent.
On January 19, 1853, Prins was officially installed as the highest authority in West Borneo. He was given an assistant in the person of H. Von Dewall. A steamship, the H.M. Merapi, was to take them to Borneo and remain there at their disposal. The instructions given to Prins followed the recommendations by Andresen regarding the Malay sultans and the Dayaks only to some extent. But they were a complete departure from the latter as far as the kongsis are concerned. There were to be no more discussions held or agreements made with the Chinese. These were “subjects” (onderdanen) and should be made to obey decrees and commands. If the Commissioner considered it necessary, he could abolish the Provisional Regulations of February 16, 1852. He could immediately and at his own discretion make use of any military force present in the area. Prins was allowed to remain the supreme authority in West Borneo as long as he saw fit. He was free to recommend to the government any form of powerful military intervention he deemed necessary.
Prins and Von Dewall left Batavia on February 3, together with Andresen, the termination of whose furlough apparently coincided with the new developments. A certain Captain Kroesen was appointed commander of Sambas now that Andresen had been assigned to Prins. An additional one hundred soldiers for the Sambas garrison also were on board.  The ship did not call at Pontianak but sailed directly to Fort Sorg where Prins disembarked to visit Pamangkat, “where the Dutch army had reaped so much glory”. He was given a rousing welcome by 321 Santiaogou Chinese who had returned to the fertile valley. This snub to Willer was handed out with the heavyhandedness to be expected of an administration which was not renowned for its finesse.
Prins then proceeded to Sambas, where he arrived on February 11. Here he met the captains of the Chinese (Liu) Gensheng of Sambas and Guo Foyuan of Pontianak, as well as Zheng Hong. All reported that the burning of the seal of Dagang had not brought the resistance of Montrado to an end. The name Dagang was still in general currency. Only at Budok, Lumar, and Ledo had the Dutch flag been hoisted, but this had not been accomplished in any of the Dagang districts. All pleaded for a strong blockade of the coast; only that could persuade the soldiers of Dagang to hand over their weapons. As long as they had not done this, the Dagang would continue to dictate the law to all the inhabitants, Zheng Hong said. The kraton of Sambas shared this view.  This request was ignored, as Willer had asked for the same measure and he was not to be validated.
In a note to his superiors dated March 2, 1853, Andresen wrote on the contrary that all was well. The Dagang kongsi had indeed abided by the new measures, had assumed a new name and transformed itself into a commercial organization. It was even following, as far as this was possible, the rules put forward in the Provisional Regulations of February 1852. Only the regent, Zheng Hong, had not returned to Montrado, because he was afraid that his fellow kongsi members would make him pay dearly for his intrigues. His aim had always been to become the “raja” of the Chinese. What he really wanted now was an all-out war between the Dutch and the kongsis, so that he could afterwards enjoy unlimited power. As far as his security was concerned, he really had nothing to fear.
Bearing this in mind, Prins summoned Zheng Hong to his presence and ordered him to return to Montrado immediately, as the disorder that continued to reign there could certainly be attributed to his absence from his post. Zheng Hong then offered his resignation (on March 10), and this was accepted on the spot. In a report dated March 25, Prins wrote:
He (Zheng Hong) appeared to me to be someone animated by a limitless lust for power, but unsuitable to the task that had been entrusted to him. He is someone from the very lowest classes of the people, who can neither read nor write, except to sign his signature, and this makes him dependent on others. He has distinguished himself as a military commander since 1850, hence his influence. Now, however, he has climbed too high and has begun to assume airs, and this the coolies of the mines, who are his equals, do not tolerate.
For his sake, to expose the country again to the disasters of war, I consider contrary to my duty. All his beautiful promises to the Resident have produced nothing, and this has certainly been the case with this burning of Dagang’s seal, which was nothing but a vain and ridiculous comedy.”...
On the very day Zheng Hong handed in his resignation and was dismissed, his uncle in Montrado was arrested. As Von Dewall, reports, Zheng Yongzong had advocated that the Dutch flag received at Montrado be raised but this proposal had met with general disapproval. Liao Erlong and Huang Du 黃度, at that time still simple miners, had branded Zheng a traitor to his country.  As long as he held the office of huozhang at the Xiawu, he remained safe, but as soon as he had been replaced, on the first day of the second month (March 10, 1853) by Xian Xi, he was arrested, and brought to the ting in chains. Those who had supported him fled. On April 9 he was sentenced to death, and was handed over to an escort of four people to take him to the bank of the Sungai Duri, where the execution was to take place. However, the executioners mistreated him so badly that he died before they had even reached the Xiawu.
The demise of the regentschap-plan was Prins’ first accomplishment. Now he had to tackle the other problems. The blockade was not considered necessary, because Prins was not afraid of the possibility of hostilities. He stated that: “the Chinese, however uncivilized and insolent they may be, are nevertheless too intelligent not to understand that, when a real conflict breaks out, they will be powerless against us.”
Perhaps, had he been aware of what was going on in Montrado, he might have been less confident. After having arrested Zheng Yongzong, the next day (March 11) the leaders sent emissaries to Lara, Budok, and Lumar to take back the Dutch flags that had been hoisted there. Prins must not have been known this, as shortly after he even tried to invite the leaders of the Heshun kongsis to come and see him at Sambas on April 15. The bazaar people, and their confreres at Budok and Lumar all wanted to send deputies, but the Shangwu and Xiawu headmen supported by the Montrado miners said it was useless to do so. Then they all consulted the Third King deity (sanwangye) in the Xiawu, and he also advised that it was useless to go.
In Prins’ eyes the litmus test for the pacification of West Borneo was to be the military occupation of Sepang. When this had been accomplished it could be seen whether the “uncivilized and insolent” Chinese would resist. By taking this measure Prins undoubtedly hoped to deal with the problem of Santiaogou. As a matter of fact, after his triumphal arrival in Borneo at Pamangkat, he was seen as the saviour of the Santiaogou Chinese. In Sambas he was besieged by people from that kongsi who told him about all they had suffered since 1850 and asked him to arrange for their return from Sarawak. Referring to them Prins wrote that in general the Chinese caused enough trouble to stifle any desire for the return of those who fled elsewhere. In this case, however, not to help the Santiaogou “ally” would give the impression that Dagang had not been vanquished but was in fact the victor. Pertinently, it was better not to enhance the wealth of “that English adventurer Brooke” by letting him have the advantage of 5000 hardworking Chinese, to the detriment of the Dutch in that part of the world.
In a short time, as Prins said of himself, he had gained deep insight into the past policy and also into the one that had to be followed from now on. This, he writes, was “diametrically opposed to the one followed by the Resident (Willer) and far more in keeping with that of Major Andresen, as set forth in the latter’s report. In two years, the policy of the Resident has not brought us any further on the road to order and peace, but even perhaps deviated further away from it.”  He therefore decided that energetic military measures should now be taken.
On March 29, all was ready for the march on Sepang. Prins was sanguine, and had repeatedly assured the government that it had nothing to fear. The Chinese would be “intelligent” enough to accept the situation as it was. At first all went well. The troops under the command of Andresen, 350 soldiers with lots of armaments and supplies, arrived at Sepang on April 5 and occupied the place without encountering any resistance. Andresen had arranged beforehand that the troops would be given a rousing welcome by the Chinese from Lumar, Budok, and Montrado who had settled there after the defeat of Santiaogou. The presence of women and children and the fact that everyone continued to go about their daily business were proof enough that they had planned no resistance. On April 8, sixteen Chinese from Budok and Lumar came to greet Andresen, and on the 10th a group of nine people even came from Montrado. The latter came to explain to Andresen that they had received an invitation from Prins, but that as yet they were not ready to go to Sambas. When they heard that the Commissioner was intending to visit Sepang himself, they begged to be allowed to stay so as to wait for him. Andresen agreed and had flags brought from Lumar. When Prins arrived, he found the Montrado people, complete with flags, awaiting him at the roadside a quarter of an hour’s distance from Sepang to show him how welcome he was. From Von Dewall’s notes we know that these people from Montrado were the leader of the bazaar, Wu Changgui, with four other merchants and that there were also two miners. Theirs was not a delegation, but a private initiative which had stirred a hornet’s nest back home.
Prins was delighted. He graciously gave the “delegation” from Montrado permission to come to Sambas in a fortnight’s time. But when they broached the eternal problem of the name of Dagang and asked that it be spared, because in this way “all problems would be resolved”, he asked for time to think about it. On April 14, the men of Montrado, apparently very satisfied, returned home. All hopes were now at fever pitch. The Dutch were short of coolies for carrying out the work on the roads and the kongsi house, but these were being sent for. The people of Santiaogou were expected to flock back rapidly in great numbers to their former homestead. A great reconciliation between the feuding kongsis was thought to be in the offing.
The men from Montrado had hardly left, when, all of the sudden, reports were brought in that all houses had been abandoned. The population had fled in panic. In many houses the food was still on the table. Why? No one knew. Prins surmised that it was because of the Santiaogou people who had promised that, as soon as the Dutch had occupied Sepang, they would come back. Surely those from Montrado and other places who had taken up residence there were afraid of their vengeance? Prins was unperturbed, believing that now there would be no feuding on the return of the original settlers. A more serious circumstance was that all the coolies, Malay and Dayak alike, had also vanished, and this interrupted the arrival of supplies. Fortunately the food that the fleeing population had left, including the pigs in the sties, could help out.
The next few days nothing happened. But then rumours were spread at Sambas that Dagang was marching on the capital with a great army. Andresen displayed great scepticism. He sent only one officer (Van den Kasteele) to Sambas in order to tell the garrison there to keep calm and to do nothing without his express orders.
Four days later, on April 18, Prins wanted to get back to Sambas. The Pangeran Ratoe, who had come with him, also wanted to return, and so Andresen had to accompany them. They left with a few bearers for their luggage but without any escort. Around noon they arrived at a place called Kedondong, two hours above Balei Benyang (Balei Biniang). Here they encountered a Dutch corporal with a few soldiers who mounted the guard over a large barn with supplies which had not been forwarded because of the shortage of bearers. While lunch was being prepared, the travellers repaired to a small spot with some trees to take a rest. Here they were surprised by the arrival of a company of Dagang soldiers who had come to take possession of the barn. The Dutch had not been seen and managed to escape and return to, some in their underwear, the road to Balei Benyang. Here they soon encountered a Dutch detachment that had been ordered to occupy some posts along the way for liaison purposes. This allowed them to get back safely to Sepang, where they arrived at 11 p.m., having lost their luggage and weapons.
They were soon besieged by the Dagang troops under the command of Liao Erlong. For a full ten days all they could do was to wait, as Dagang this time did not launch any serious attack immediately, but was systematically building fortifications all around Sepang. Two petty officers, Halewijn and Noot, lapsed into despondency and miserably failed to obey orders. In vain Andresen tried to send messengers to Sambas to ask Van den Kasteele to come and deliver them. Luckily this officer, who had been told not to take any initiative on his own, understood something was wrong and set out on his own authority. He managed to slip through the Dagang lines with a detachment and reached to the kongsi house of Sepang on April 27. The next day the Dutch made a desperate sortie. They found Sepang in ruins. They managed to break through the Dagang lines and got away to Sambas. The whole enterprise had come to naught.
Only Prins’ assurance remained unruffled. Under siege at Sepang he had committed a lengthy proclamation to paper. On leaving the place he had it pasted on a pole which stood in front of the fortress. It contained a lot of long-winded phrases such as: “My excellent intentions have been answered by you with the basest treachery”; and “you have already paid for this temerity, and you will now pay even more” and in conclusion: “I now declare you to be in state of rebellion against your liege lord, the sultan of Sambas and your sovereign, the government of the Dutch Indies. We have charged all authorities to use all possible means, on water as well as on land, to force you into submission and above all to see to it that the wicked instigators of this revolt shall not escape their well-deserved punishment.” The proclamation was to be posted at all the bazaars of West Borneo. The people of Montrado failed to be impressed. 
The Dutch suspected, and later accused, the Chinese of great duplicity. At the very time which their notables were in Sepang to show their respect to the Commissioner, the homefront was preparing for war. The true state of affairs was entirely different and thanks to the invaluable notes of Van Dewall which based on authentic Chinese sources of Montrado, we have an idea of what really happened.
As said above, the idea of Wu Changgui and his party of going to Sepang to pay their respects to the Commissioner had not met with general approval. The day after their departure (April 9), the fears of the people of Montrado were strengthened by the arrival of the head of the Dayaks of Budok who showed a letter, written in Malay, ordering his people to go to Sepang to work for the Dutch. He asked the kongsi whether or not he should obey this order. He also reported that five to six hundred government troops had occupied the kongsi house at Sepang and were working on the fortifications. The Third King deity was immediately consulted, but the spirit-medium was not visited by inspiration. The same day at midnight, more news arrived from Sepang. It was a letter written by the three zhazhu’s of the three kongsis ( Dagang, Lintian, and Shiwufen) present at Sepang reporting that the Dutch had taken possession of Sepang and were intending to build a great fortress there. They also reported that the Tianshi, the great divine protector of Lumar, had been consulted about what to do. The god had answered that the Dutch should not be allowed to carry out their plans but should be expelled by force of arms, because, if they were allowed to settle at Sepang, it would not be long before they would reach out for Montrado. The Third King venerated in the Shangwu now gave the same answers. The 8th day of that month (April 15, 1853) was indicated as being an auspicious date, all work in the mines should be stopped and all miners should march against Sepang. The Third King also ordered a letter be written to the Commissioner in which the kongsi promised to appear before him at Sepang on the 15th day of the month (April 22). This, of course, related to the meeting Wu Changgui and his party were to have at Sepang with Prins. It was decided to do this, but for some reason the letter was never sent. The period between the 3rd and the 8th day of the month (April 10-15) was used to make the equipment ready for use. 
This is a good juncture to look at the events at Montrado in the words of the annals transcribed by Von Dewall:
A letter from the Commissioner, written at Sepang and handed over to the Shangwu by Lin Xinbo on the 7th day of the month (April 14), was read by Zhang Lao and torn to pieces by the excited, impetuous crowd, which no longer accepted the submission and would march into battle against the Dutch the next day.
On the 8th day (April 15) a big flag bearing the inscription “Heshun Dagang Zongshuai” 和順大港總帥 (“General Commander of Heshun Dagang”)  was hoisted at the ting, at Shangwu, at Xiawu, and at Kulor.
At Shangwu the kongsi appointed Liao Erlong to be commander-in-chief of the expedition and representative of the kongsi.
He received the following objects as insignia of his office and power: a yellow, triangular flag inscribed with the character ling 令 (order), a double-edged sword, and a whip of rattan.
After this, five banners, among which was one from Singkawang, each of 108 men, with about the same number of bearers, went from Montrado to Sepang.
Lumar and Lara each sent a banner too; a banner from Budok was directed towards Sungai Bieru.
The four banners from Montrado were accompanied by Ye Bao, Huang Chenzhong, Zhong Bing, and Zhiyuan, the banners from Singkawang, Lumar, Lara, and Budok were under the command of Liu Jin, Liu Yin, Yang An, and Huang Zhonglai respectively.
Both of the above-mentioned banners of Montrado were of the Shangwu and were under the authority of the commander of the first banner, Huang Chenzhong. The remaining two were of the Xiawu and were under the authority of Ye Bao.
Those banners of which the commander had command over were called “large banners”.
Yan Zhuang, magician of the Third King (the oracle of Shangwu), and Wu Sheng, magician of Maniang (the oracle of Xiawu), accompanied the army. The other localities only sent the ritual utensils of their oracles.
Huang Zhongmei, of Montrado, was sent to Lumar with a strongly armed gang in order to keep this place occupied during the operations and to prevent them choosing the side of the government.
It was not necessary to take such measures at Lara or at Budok. The loyalty to the kongsi of the first place was assured, and Budok was controlled by the banner of Ye Bao, which will be discussed below.
Liao Erlong himself proceeded – in the company of his aide-de-camp, Fang Liang, and the banner of Ye Bao just-mentioned– via Budok towards Kedondong, in order to carry off or destroy the victuals and other goods assembled there, and also to cut of the supply of provisions from Sambas to Sepang.
It was not known when the Commissioner would return to Sambas. It was therefore pure coincidence that on his way back to Sambas the Commissioner had halted at Kedondong on April 18, 1853, just when the troops of Ye Bao arrived there.
A letter from the government commissioner to the three kongsis, written at Sepang, when the rebels surrounded the kongsi house, and fastened to a pole to the outside of the kongsi house, does not seem to have reached its destination. A second, however, written in April after the rebels had been dislodged from Sepang, and posted on one of the Dabogong houses at Sepang, did reach the kongsi Dagang, but seems to have made no impression. After the troops of the kongsi of Sepang had been driven away from Sepang, where Montrado counted the loss of only eighty dead and returned home, the oracles were consulted again.
The Maniang of the Xiawu, the Sanwangye of the Shangwu, the Diye of Bang-Kie-Lin, and the Guanyinniang of Djintan encouraged the people through the mouths of their respective priests – Wu Sheng, Yan Zhuang, Deng Tang, and Zhao Mei – to continue the war and especially urged the attack on Seminis. This was made easier owing to the fact that the retreat of our troops from Sepang was generally considered to be a defeat.
It was indeed a defeat. Andresen’s superiors were furious. The preparations had been bungled. Right from the beginning they had been plagued a lack of carriers. The fact that Prins had been allowed to depart without an adequate escort was a very great mistake. And how could he have suffered a Chinese siege for ten days without even trying a sortie? The fact that Sepang had now been abandoned was the crown on the work of the enemy, and “a defeat, so humiliating to our arms that only the most splendid of vengeance can make up for it, lest we be despised by the Chinese on Borneo’s West Coast.” Andresen skillfully knew how to disarm the critics and preserve the confidence of the Governor-General. Prins found a better scapegoat. On May 27 he wrote to the government:
That the Chinese, two years after having come to plead for peace, have dared to act as they did in April is the most eloquent reproof of the governmental action taken by Resident Willer, and gives in the clearest way proof of my earlier opinion that in those two years our authority over the Chinese of the West Coast of Borneo had not progressed but regressed.
In consequence, he took the decision, “so as to spare him the disagreeableness of being dismissed,” to confer on Willer leave without further assignment. This “old but honest official” was accused by Prins of “having been too true to his own utopian ideas.” Luckily the Governor-General did not wholly acquiesce in Prins’ scorn and shortly after returning to Java, Willer was appointed Resident of the wealthy Riau region, in fact a promotion from his place in West Borneo.
Prins himself considered his task in Borneo to be finished. On May 11, 1853, he left Sambas on board of the SS Celebes and arrived safely in Batavia six days later. Before his departure, he made Andresen responsible for not only the continuation of the military presence, but also for all political affairs, as he shared “in general” the viewpoints of the latter. Henceforward, Andresen would be the uppermost authority in all affairs. The Raad van Indië agreed completely with this measure, and after having debated the situation, gave the following helpful advice on June 17, 1853.
...Several members of this Council have long since expressed the feeling that no transactions with the rebellious Chinese kongsis are possible; that the future should not be sacrified to the present and that these foreign colonizers should be brought to submission through a war of attrition and a blockade, and, if possible, be forced to leave this field of exploitation; ... it has been remarked that the presence in Borneo of two such entirely incompatible elements of civilization as the Chinese and the Dutch must inevitably lead to conflicts.
The Council therefore confirms these feelings. The Chinese element cannot tolerate the Dutch. Since 1816 the presence of both elements has resulted only in a series of injuries, each time detrimental to our authority. ...
According to a letter of Dagang of April 13, 1853, addressed to the Captain of the Chinese at Pontianak, the rebels are most assiduous in reminding every Chinese that he is Chinese, that he must remain faithful to his customs and is obliged to mislead the barbarians, that is, all those who are not Chinese. Here we have therefore a battle of national character against national character... The case of Montrado will therefore probably become a national affair. Should it be resolved to wage a war on Montrado, preparations should be made to fight against the combined forces of all the Chinese living on Borneo’s West Coast.
It appears certain to this Council that the battle with the Chinese who have settled in this region has now become a stubborn, protracted, drawn out national war, because it can only end if all, without distinction, have been made to leave the field of their present exploitation and what remains of them is concentrated at Sambas or Pontianak under the protection of our flag. The country will thereby be depopulated....but such a poor country inhabited by unenergetic Dayaks will yet be better maintained under Dutch authority than a land abandoned to those Chinese living in anarchy who never act in a trustworthy manner...
Almost all Chinese archives have been lost or have remained inaccessible to us. By an extraordinary coincidence, however, the letter of April 13, 1853, to which the above advice of the Raad van Indië translated above refers, has been preserved.  It deserves therefore to be translated here:
Let us not write about superfluous things.
Dear Sir, recently the Dutch with malicious intentions have occupied our land of Sepang like scorpions. Our humble kongsi fears that their aggression will feed upon itself. This we can truly not tolerate any longer. We have decided to raise our army, beginning on the eighth day of the third month (April 15), and to expel them. We hope that in all these things you will stand on our side. We shall be profoundly grateful for your kindness. We shall say no more for today, but respectfully present our wishes for prosperity in all things present.
Respectfully presented to the Jiatai Guo Foyuan.
The Heshun kongsi (seal), the sixth day of the third month (small seal illegible)The Chinese letter, in perfect calligraphy, strikes us as being certainly more placid and courteous than the excited discourse of the Raad van Indië. But one thing was certain: the mutual misunderstanding had created an unbridgeable chasm. Although the Governor-General did not follow the recommendations of the Raad and even begged to disagree with a number of them, he obliged the eminent body of councillors by declaring the kongsis to be rebels, by installing a total blockade, forbidding the entry of Chinese nationals into Borneo, and appointing Andresen to have authority in everything. As Kielstra remarks, the time of negotiation had come to an end. The destruction of the kongsis was now at hand.
 See “Verwikkelingen”, etc.
 “Verwikkelingen”, p. 403: “Zeker door den verrekijker gezien!”
 Langelaan, “De Chinezen van Sambas”, pp. 79-80.
 “Verwikkelingen”, p. 343.
 This must be a reference to the contract made by Tobias on September 22, 1822: the arrangement of the relationship between the kongsis and the government.
 Kielstra, “Bijdragen tot Borneo’s Westerafdeeling”, 1889, part 1, p. 333.
 De Groot, Het Kongsiwezen, p. 131.
 Willer, ARA 1850-1900, Geh. Kab.: 5828-281/I.
 Quoted in “Verwikkelingen”, p. 359
 Ibidem, p. 360.
 Kielstra, “Bijdragen tot Borneo’s Westerafdeeling”, 1889, part 1, p. 341.
 Ibidem, p. 342.
 Ibidem, pp. 342-343.
 Ibidem, p. 344.
 Ibidem, p. 345.
 Ibidem, p. 346.
 Ibidem, p. 348.
 Ibidem, p. 350
 Letter by Willer of August 22, 1851, quoted in Kielstra, “Bijdragen tot Borneo’s Westerafdeeling”, 1889, part 2, p. 525.
 Ibidem, p. 525.
 Ibidem, p. 507. Willer has not understood that “Heshun zongting” is not at all a “new name” but in fact an established institution for 75 years!
 “Three” is here of course a continuation of “Three Gullies” Santiaogou, but also has here the connotation of “universal”.
 This is based on the report by Andresen as quoted in Kielstra, “Bijdragen tot Borneo’s Westerafdeeling”, 1889, part 4, pp. 966-967.
 We can only wonder how the two men communicated in private; did Zheng Hong speak Dutch or did they both speak Malay?
 Willer, in a letter to the Governor-General of August 22, 1851, quoted in Kielstra, 1889, part 2, p. 523.
 Kielstra, “Bijdragen tot Borneo’s Westerafdeeling”, 1889, part 2, p. 508.
 Ibidem, p. 507.
 Ibidem, 1889, part 4, p. 967.
 Words of Willer quoted by Kielstra, “Bijdragen tot Borneo’s Westerafdeeling”,1889, part 2, p. 513.
 Ibidem, p. 514.
 Ibidem, p. 515.
 Ibidem, pp. 516-517.
 Quoted in extenso in Kielstra, “Bijdragen tot Borneo’s Westerafdeeling”, 1889, part 2, pp. 519-529.
 Veth, Borneo’s Wester-afdeeling, vol. II, p. 652.
 Kielstra “Bijdragen tot Borneo’s Westerafdeeling”, 1889, part 1, p. 353, sq.
 Quoted in extenso in Kielstra, “Bijdragen tot Borneo’s Westerafdeeling”, 1889, part 2, pp. 530-544.
 Ibidem, 1889, part 3, pp. 735-736.
 Decisions given by Kielstra, “Bijdragen tot Borneo’s Westerafdeeling”, 1889, part 3, p. 717.
 Ibidem, pp. 718-723.
 Ibidem, pp. 723-726.
 See Appendix 1.
 Quoted by Kielstra, “Bijdragen tot Borneo’s Westerafdeeling”, 1889, part 3, pp. 738-740.
 Ibidem, pp. 741-742.
 Letter of 28 October 1852, quoted in Kielstra, “Bijdragen tot Borneo’s Westerafdeeling”, 1889, part 4, pp. 947-950.
 Ibidem, part 5, p. 1143. The price of a chest of opium would be, after the implementation of the scheme, 45 taëls of gold (3800 guilders).
 Ibidem, p. 1145.
 Ibidem, p. 1146: “nimmer verdere offers van de nationaliteit der Thai-kwong-Chineezen te vragen.” This most evocative but rather ungrammatical phrase must be based on a Chinese original in which the word “nation”, that is guo 國 had been used in relation to Dagang.
 This must have been the holy icon of Guansheng dijun.
 Von Dewall, “Opstand der Chinezen van Montrado”, p. 7.
 There is a description of Wu Changgui by Van Rees, who knew him as the “father of the citizens of Montrado” in 1854 (Van Rees, Montrado, p. 95).
 See J.W. Young, “Bijdrage tot de geschiedenis van Borneo’s Westerafdeling”, in TNI 38, 1895, p. 515.
 Ibidem, pp. 499-550. Young’s contribution is meant to supplement the descriptions of Kielstra, who surprisingly has next to nothing to say about the important meetings and the destruction of the seal. Young most certainly also had access to the manuscript by Von Dewall, now in the KITLV, which I have also used.
 This information is obtained from a letter of Willer to the Governor-General dated January 20, 1853, quoted by Young, “Bijdrage tot de geschiedenis van Borneo’s Westerafdeling”, pp. 541-545.
 Willer writes about him that “although he is not an alcoholic and smokes (opium) in moderation as all decent Chinese do, he yet becomes incapable of any exertion of mind and spirit when the time for a puff of the pipe has come.” The Assistant-Resident van Prehn, remarks that “Zheng is very depressed throughout the discussions”. (Young, “Bijdrage tot de geschiedenis van Borneo’s Westerafdeling”, p. 523)
 Ibidem, p. 534.
 Ibidem, p. 538.
 KITLV, manuscript collection, no. H1314.
 Letter of 20 January 1853, quoted by Young, “Bijdrage tot de geschiedenis van Borneo’s Westerafdeling”, p. 541.
 Ibidem, p. 543.
 Ibidem, pp. 538-539.
 Ibidem, p. 549.
 The report is reproduced in extenso in Kielstra, “Bijdragen tot Borneo’s Westerafdeeling”, 1889, part 4, pp. 950-991 (in small print!).
 Quoted by Kielstra, “Bijdragen tot Borneo’s Westerafdeeling”, 1889, part 8, p. 1927.
 The present is but an incomplete abstract of some of the important elements in Andresen’s report. Other elements, for instance, the situation of the Dayaks and Malays in this period, have been discussed in Chapter One and elsewhere of the present study.
 Kielstra, “Bijdragen tot Borneo’s Westerafdeeling”, 1889, part 5, p. 1142.
 Ibidem, pp. 1147-1149.
 Ibidem, part 6, p. 1352.
 Ibidem, p. 1354.
 Ibidem, p. 1356.
 Von Dewall, “Opstand der Chinezen van Montrado”, pp. 9-10. The same source also gives the list of those who supported Zheng Yongzong. They were: Xian Zhu, Li Rong, Wei Chen, Wu San, Ye Qin, Yang Xinxi 楊辛喜, Zeng Long 曾龍.
 Von Dewall, “Opstand der Chinezen van Montrado”, p. 11.
 Kielstra, “Bijdragen tot Borneo’s Westerafdeeling”, 1889, part 6, p. 1357.
 Ibidem, p. 1359.
 Ibidem, pp. 1360 -1373.
 Von Dewall, “Opstand der Chinezen van Montrado”, pp. 13-14.
 This was the title of Liao Erlong
 Von Dewall, “Opstand der Chinese van Montrado”, pp. 14-17.
 Quoted in Kielstra, “Bijdragen tot Borneo’s Westerafdeeling”, 1889, part 6, p. 1374. Later, in a Note to the G-G, Andresen would recall that it was Liao Erlong who had the weapons consecrated and had called up the warriors while the delegation was already in Sepang (Kielstra, 1889, part 8, p. 1922).
 See Appendix 1.
 Kielstra, “Bijdragen tot Borneo’s Westerafdeeling”, 1889, part 6, p. 1383.