On FaceBook recently we had an interesting discussion about roti paun (roti pau). Here is an contribution from Ramlee Dua in Sipitang:
" The concept of bread being 1 pound in weight is correct but not applicable in swak, sabah & brunei. On xmas day, 1846, james brooke took possession of labuan..cpt james mundy went to brunei & screamed at the sultan "bobo chop, bobo chop.." bobo was corrupted frm brunei malay "bubuh" (to put), meaning to put his seal on the surrender document.A few months prior to this, there was a minor civil war fought at kg berakas (pengiran vs pengiran wth lots of kadayans involved). There was a definite winner.
In 1847, abt 1000 kadayan families moved to labuan (comprising mostly of those who lost in the battle & also an opportunity to escape poll taxes). Brooke encouraged the migration to populate the best island.The kadayans cleared the jungle & established villages (kg sg lada, kg tg purun, kg batu arang, layang-layangan & many more). At abt the same time, scottish miners were brought in to extract coal at tg kubong.
Those of u who r familiar wth jungle clearing wud understand that burning the cleared trees & bushes often reqd a 2 stage process (burning & reburning, aka pruning). If the cleared forest was very dry & there had been no rain, a complete burn was possible & saved farmers lots of effort. This re-stacking of unburnt wood was called PAUNAN by the kadayans. The act of setting fire to the paunan was called to PAUN.
The miners who came to labuan ate bread & this was achieved by constructing a beehive oven using bricks & mortar, putting dough inside oven & covering it wth wood all over. To the kadayans, this looked similar to their paunan. Bread that came out of the oven was aptly called UTI KANA PAUN, later simplified to UTI PAUN (where malay dialects had the consonant "r", this became ROTI PAUN.
Labuan became a centre of trade & many ppl travelled around western borneo, singapore & beyond. The hainanese adopted this type of making pau & everyone called the popular bun (also bread loaves) ROTI PAUN cos it originated frm the name the kadayans of labuan gave it. I hope this clears up this strange story."
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