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Lontong the fluid of fear Print E-mail
ImageBrother Herbertus Gampok (45) may be lesser known to La Sallians in Peninsular Malaysia, but he cuts a popular figure in Sabah. A Kadasandusun, he lives in the “interior” of Sabah – a remote part of Sabah close to the Sarawak and Kalimantan border and is an expert on both Kadasandusun and Murut cultures.

He was featured in STARMAG (27 July, 2003) talking about Lontong, the fluid of death, the number one fear of people living in the interior which includes the settlements of Keningau, Nabawan, Pensiangan and Tenom. Just what is Lontong? It has nothing to do with the popular Johore dish of vegetables and rice cubes served in rich coconut gravy. This lontong is liquid collected from a dead person.  The moment a person dies, he or she will be tied up in a foetal position and put into a jar which is then sealed. This jar is stored in a hut near the dead person’s compound The body will become obuntong (Kadazandusun for decomposed) and after three years the jar will be unsealed.

“What is left are bones and fluid. The bones will be thrown into the river and the fluid used as poison,” says Brother Herbertus. Lontong is kept in a small bottle. “All the murderer has to do is to dip his fingernail into the fluid and then dip the nail into his victim’s tapai or whatever drink he is having. In a few weeks, the victim’s stomach will be bloating and bulging like a fully pregnant woman. Medical examinations will reveal nothing. The doctor will operate to drain out the water but a few weeks later, the victim’s stomach will fill up again and, in the end, the victim will die,” he adds.

Bro. Herbertus maintains that lontong poisoning is still widespread in the interior of Sabah. To stress the point, he narrates his experience of taking care of the boarders in the La Salle Hostel in Nabawan. “The parents (of the boarders) would tell me not to allow their children to return home without their permission because they were afraid that their children would wander to another village and during a drinking session they might be poisoned with lontong.”

The good Brother gives another anecdote: During drinking sessions when they are intoxicated, the locals will warn others not to go to this or that village because they practise it (lontong). This shows that among the people themselves, they know who uses lontong.

But there is consolation to all that has been said. The locals will not simply poison anyone with lontong. “Usually you must have lived here for one or two years and have acted in a way that gave them reason to poison you” Bro. Herbertus explained.


Source: StarMag: ”Death by Magic” dated 27.July, 2003


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