According to the history of Sarawak, the Kayan people – who once migrated from one place to another, as they practised nomadic farming – were the first people to explore Song.
At the same time, the Ibans also began to migrate from the Indonesian border through Sungai Kapuas and several other rivers (to Song) to find new places to carry out agricultural and hunting activities to support their daily lives.
War after war began to break out between the Iban and Kayan communities since both tribes wanted to settle in Song – where, the Ibans finally managed to capture Song and caused the Kayans to retreat along the upper reaches of Sungai Rajang to Belaga.
Song before 1963
Around the 1820s, Song, originally located in Nanga Sungai Song, was a stopover for Malay and Melanau traders to exchange their forest products (such as nyatoh, damar and rattan) with the Iban community in Song.
These traders also sold their forest products to Sibau (Sibu), a stopover for merchant ships from Singapore and Kampar, which would later bring the merchandise back to Singapore and the Peninsula.
At the same time, merchants from Singapore and Kampar also brought goods such as salt, salted fish, crockery, pottery, gongs and fabrics to be exchanged with the Song people.
The Industrial Revolution in Europe had an impact on Song which later turned into a small town. This also made the Chinese from China and the Malays settled in Song, which had opened 14 stores in the small town.
This prompted James Brooke to establish his first administrative centre in Song (around the 1870s) with Abang Depong (of Iban-Melanau descent) assigned as an officer in the area. At the same time, the administrative centre was set up to stop an uprising by Iban residents in Batang Katibas, who protested the collection of door taxes that lasted until the 1900s.
In 1873, Sibu was declared the Third Division in Sarawak where the administration of the Song sub-district was placed under the Sibu Resident.
In 1945, Song’s administrative centre was taken over by the Japanese who succeeded in conquering Sarawak. Sarawak was later freed from Japanese rule in 1945. However, Song’s administrative centre was bombed by British and Australian troops.
The official at that time, Abang Tunku Wan Mat had decided to move the Song administration centre to Nanga Katibas. In 1947, the British government established a fort (Fort Song) in Nanga Katibas and the Song administrative centre was later moved to the fort in 1948.
Role of Upper Rajang Development Agency (Urda)
Urda has been entrusted by the state government to manage the 33.8km Nanga Banjor-Nanga Makut-Nanga Engkuah road construction project along Sungai Katibas, which will benefit 20 longhouses, three schools, two clinics and two agricultural sub-stations in Song.
The RM174 million project, which already started in October last year and is expected to be completed by the end of 2021, is an effort by the state government to boost socio-economic development in Kapit and Hulu Rajang, and is one of Urda’s development projects for Song.
Apart from that, an allocation of RM24 million was also approved to build water supply grid at Jalan Song- Temalat.
In this regard, the state government urges the residents to give full cooperation to Urda and the contractor to ensure the project runs smoothly.
Song Waterfront project
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg is expected to arrive at the project site tomorrow (Sunday) on a motorcycle from Ngemah. He is also scheduled to spend some time in Song town before continuing his journey to Kapit.
The second phase of the project was completed in October last year and the third phase was completed in January this year.
According to Raymond Ako, a self-employed person, the development of infrastructure in Song today is very different from the 1990s, especially in terms of roads, public facilities and human capital development.
“Song will be more easily accessible to Kapit, Kanowit and Sibu with the completion of Nanga Banjor-Nanga Makut-Nanga Engkuah road next year.
“This road construction project will definitely bring many benefits to the people of Song especially in socio-economic terms.
“Apart from that, rural transformation programme (RTP) projects which were first introduced by the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem have had a huge impact on the rural community,” he said.
Since Song does not have a special area to house small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the 40-year-old man hoped that Katibas assemblyman Datuk Ambrose Belikau and Kapit MP Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi will work to create areas for SMEs, which will boost economic activities in Song as well as providing employment opportunities to young people.
In addition, Raymond said the existence of several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Song such as Song Graduate Club has helped many rural youth in terms of education.