Yes, these are rivers as defined by the locals. River is sungai in Malay. These three rivers are Sungai Sesahan(Petai), Sungai Pasir and Sungai Jangkar. They might not be as big and mighty as Sungai Rejang let alone the Nile or the Amazon. Their purpose however, is equally the same; providing fresh water. Their loyalty in giving free, uninterrupted supply of fresh, clean water to the endangered local Bidayuh Salako and Rara tribes has been there ever since. Now that have been put to the test.
The Bidayuh Salako and Rara tribes have claimed the area as home from day one their forefathers set foot there very, very long time ago. When they first settled , a state called Sarawak and a country called Malaysia was unheard of. In fact, there wasn't any yet.
The three rivers flow across Lundu-Biawak Road as described here. Lundu is in the Kuching Division, Sarawak, Malaysia. These rivers used to be fishing grounds; abound with exotic local fish. Children used to play in these once crystal clear rivers. And most of all, these rivers are where the locals of about five thousand sourced their drinking water from.
Not anymore. They have turned ankle-shallow. The crystal clear waters have mutated into badly silted brownish liquid where even water buffaloes dare not enter. No more children playing "chase swimming"; no more adults squatting by the river sides waiting for fish to catch their baits.
According to a not so ancient locally "concocted legends", the mutation of these rivers are due to human-like ghosts uprooting trees within the vicinity and upriver till higher up their source in Gunung/Mount Pueh. These ghosts they said, would come in motorised iron carts felling any trees they like and transport them down using huge bandwagons made of iron. Elderly folks said that these carts and bandwagons have threaded legs like centipedes and moved noisily, screaming all their way to and/or frow.
What is most intriguing according to another elderly is that these foreign ghosts would look for local companion ghosts as tools to cast their spells. Unfortunately, those local ghosts ended up as ragtag ghosts once those foreign ghosts left after feasting on voluminous huge trees. These "concocted legends" are repeated after a period of four or five years. And now, since these huge trees are getting rarer, those ghosts will even feast on small trees.
Thus the shallow, murky, ankle-deep water and thus the fish are gone. And thus, if left un-exorcised, these ghosts would come again and again and again. And all the locals will enjoy is a sight of bare mountain and a feast of "chocolate drink-like" streams and rivers where even skunks would not dare to bath.
Oh, by the way, do you believe in "ghostly legends"? I do because I have seen countlessly many plying the Lundu-Biawak Road ever since 1972. But we have yet to find a really strong-willed and honestly powerful exorcist to chase away those devils so that their rampaging spirits will never ever again return.