December 19, 2012

Merapok, Sarawak

River Merapok and its adjacent land is one of the last areas to be ceded to the Brooke Rajah by the Brunei Sultan.

from then until the 1980's Merapok was just a bazaar with a row of  "wooden Chinese shophouses" to serve the different ethnic groups and the local Chinese who have moved from either different parts of  Sarawak and even China.

The new Merapok town today is sited further away and is fairly modern, with mainly government offices and others , so to speak. the Malaysian government has reportedly spent millions to RE create the border town.

Merapok is most famous as the last town out of Sarawak to neighbouring Sabah. It lies to the east of Lawas and is a check point town where people from Sarawak and Brunei get their passport checked  before arriving in Sabah. Sarawak, despite being a Malaysian state, has autonomy over immigration matters. The Sabah checkpoint across the state border is Sindumin.

In the case you are crossing Brunei from Miri for the first time, you might need the map found here.

 Getting there from Miri is a long journey by road, but it is an adventure really. Sarawakians should try making the journey when they have the time.

Photo: Visit Lost Town @ Merapok. on 15 12 2012 morning 6:20 a.m. Felt sad to look at this Wooden Shop-houses, Creeper all over the upper windows and Ground Porch of this poor building ........... =(
Photo by Lim Lee (Former student of SMK Limbang)

According to some historical documents, all the lands around  the present Sarawakian Lawas district in the past is the genuine rightsof some of the Bruneian Pengirans (relatives of the Sultan). For example, Punang  belonged to Pengiran Mohammad bin Pengiran, Siang-Siang to Kuala Bunbun are genuine rights of Pengiran Tajudin Pemaca. Some accord Pengiran Abu Bakar and Pengiran Tajudin  right throughout the Lawas River and River Merapok. The North Borneo Company slowly acquired these lands because they belonged to individual princess or pengirans and noblemen.

In the North Borneo Company records all the rivers and the area was sold to the company in 1901. On January 12, 1905  this area was purchased by Sarawak thus making Lawas District  the last area to be part of Sarawak. This completes the total present size of Sarawak state with 42,050 sq. miles.

  In another account, until 1900 the Sipitang River marked the frontier between Sabah and Brunei until Trusan was acquired by Rajah Brook, adding that to the Limbang District. However demarcation has now receded to the present day Sarawak-Sabah border near Mengalong now known as Sindumin.

Merapok is an entry/exit point for Sarawak-Sabah. It is the only place in Malaysia where you need to have your passport stamped between two Malaysian states.A peculiarity is the autonomy of the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak in immigration affairs. Foreigners who travel to the two states from Peninsular Malaysia are required to fill in immigration forms and get new stamps on their passports. There is also immigration control for travel between Sabah and Sarawak. Previously, Malaysian citizens from the Peninsular were required to present their passports and have them stamped as well; while they are currently still subjected to immigration control, passports are no longer required for social visits not more than three months.

Two lovely photos from the 1940's show the buildings in this area. A lovely photo of the Kapitan Cina's widow Laim Aik is also available.

There is more in the history of Merapok then meet the eye....

Do you want a very special stamp on your international passport?  Get one from Merapok, Sarawak. It would be a very interesting journey. But do keep an eye on the creepers which may finally cause the collapse of the Chinese Wooden Shophouses.


小洋 said...

We completed the Lawas Merapok Road more that 35 years ago in 1976-1977. Besides the locals, the project team also included a Surveyor from India and a Resident Engineer from Sri Lanka. Hope to visit Merapok again after so many years and also Kpg Punang, the beautiful seaside kampung where Timothy Liaw came from.

Merry X’mas & Happy New Year

Lucky that the world didn’t come to an end yesterday!!

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Thank you for the additional info. It is hard for some of us to collect local history. Oral histories are harder to collect because people have moved away. Many other documents which were available before have been burnt when libraries and government offices were burnt.

Yes I know Timothy Liaw. May be he can contribute some historical info ...thanks.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ummmm, I suppose predictions like that make people become more alert about their own mortality.

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