Bau marks 200 years of gold mining

A screen-grab photo showing the mining activities in Bau in the old days.

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By Karen Bong

BAU, Dec 31: Today, Bau celebrated 200 years of gold mining since the establishment of the first gold mine in 1820, a rich history that served as a reminder of the boomtown era two centuries ago.

Tasik Biru assemblyman Dato Henry Harry Jinep shared that the first gold mine in Sarawak was started by the Chinese from Sambas, Kalimantan who migrated to Bau in the early 17th century.

In the early 17th century, the Chinese community, led by Liu Shan Bang, started gold and antimony mining works at the Old Bau area. He organised the 12 Kongsi Company which operated the Mau San gold mine and made the mining town of Mau San (or Old Bau).

The Chinese miner Liu Shan Bang who led the 12 Kongsi Company and turned Mau San into a prosperous and thriving gold town.

Mau San settlement became known as one of the oldest and richest settlement in olden day Sarawak as it had its own kingdom and currency.

They unearthed gold deposits and turned Mau San into a prosperous and thriving gold town. It was during those years that active trade and commerce in Bau, developed between the Chinese miners and the local natives people, the Land Dayaks as they were known then (the Bidayuh today) and the Malays.

History has recorded that the Bidayuh and the Malays first settled in Bau around the 1600s, the Malays settling along the river banks of Sarawak Kanan while the Bidayuh settled in the interior.

A screen-grab photo of the gold and antimony mining activities in the old days which had greatly flourished Bau.

Gold mining and trade activities flourished in Bau since 1820 until Rajah James Brooke prohibit the trade of gold, antimony and other direct trade activities with foreign governments.

The opening of the Borneo Company by the Brooke Government in 1856 was to control gold mining activities in Bau.

Various taxes were also imposed by the Brooke Government on trade activities carried out by miners and the people of Mau San until Liu lead 600 Chinese miners to rebel against the Brooke Government in 1857. This history was known as the 1857 Chinese Uprising against the White Rajah James Brooke.

A screen-grab photo of the 1857 Chinese Uprising against the White Rajah James Brooke led by Liu Shan Bang.

After the Chinese miners’ rebellion and the counter attack by Brooke’s soldiers, the gold mining activities continued under the Borneo Company till 1921. Since then, various companies had continued to mine gold in Bau until 2014. As of now, gold mining activities have completely ceased.

Looking back at the 200 years of Bau history, Tasik Biru assemblyman Dato Henry Harry Jinep pointed out Bau community should be proud of the achievements this district had attained in gold and antimony gold mining activities, even though both had ceased to exist today.

“But it has brought many benefits to the people of Bau in particular and all Sarawakians in general.

“Today is the last day of the second century of Bau’s history. A new chapter begins tomorrow for the third century and a chance for us to create more new history for Bau and Greater Bau.

A new era is in the horizon to create more new histories for Bau and Greater Bau.

“This moment is significant because it brings a thousand and one possibility for us in Bau,” he highlighted at the Bau Bicentennial Celebration: 200 Years History of Bau at Tasik Biru here today.

As such, Henry called on the people to be united in one soul, one desire and one goal, to continue to develop in terms of infrastructure, socio-economic, education and human capital to become the backbone of prosperity of society and the generation of Bau in particular and Sarawak as a whole. — DayakDaily