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Insight into the STB building and sikh temple
Published on: Sunday, March 19, 2017

By Datuk Balwant Singh Kler
I refer to “STB building 100 years old in March next year”, with reference to the Sabah Tourism Board building (March 17, 2017, page 8).

This is indeed a joyous occasion worthy of celebration for all KK residents who have over the years witnessed the transformation of this site.

I have my own good memories of this building. I joined the Government service (Post & Telegraph Department) on the 1st of October 1959 as a Postal and Telegraphic clerk in the P & T department which was located in this very same building. Back then, the ground floor housed the post office as well as a ‘strong room’ (government treasury) with administrative offices on the top floor. In the article, three prewar buildings still standing are mentioned, namely the current STB building, the former Social Welfare Department (Land & Survey building) and the Atkinson Clock Tower.

As we know, only the foundations and pillars of the Land & Survey building remain (due to a fire under mysterious circumstances).

I would like to draw your attention to another pre-war building which continues to stand strong as a house of worship.

The Gurdwara Sahib (Sikh Temple) building on Jalan Mat Salleh was declared open in 1924 and survived the Second World War.

This building was designed by the late Mr. C. V. Durai. During the opening ceremony, three speeches were delivered by Mr. Durai, Subedar Mangal Singh Kalsi from the North Borneo Police (building chairman) and the British Governor who declared it open.

For the small Sikh community of Sabah, the Gurdwara Sahib, with its stained glass windows, unique design and history, is one of a kind. For example, a bomb landed inside during the war that did not detonate until the British Sikh Regiment who landed at Tanjung Aru Beach arrived to remove and detonate it elsewhere.

Recently, a replica of a painting of our Gurdwara drawn by a Prisoner of War at Jesselton P.O.W Camp was presented to the Sikh Community of KK. The Bagnall watercolour was discovered at the Imperial War Museum by Major John Tulloch during his research for a book on British POWs (WW2) in Borneo.

In the 1980s, there were plans to demolish this building and rebuild a larger complex in its place.

However, these plans were not approved by the Sabah State Museum as it was categorised under “historical buildings”.

Due to this, only minor renovations and extensions were allowed so the original structure would remain intact.

This Gurdwara Sahib building in Sabah is now 94 years old and in 2024 the Sikh Community will be celebrating its 100th years.

Datuk Balwant Singh Kler

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