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Fix the Chinese omission
Published on: Saturday, September 23, 2017

By Robert Lam
I WISH to convey my thanks to Professor Dr Danny Wong Tze Ken for his presentation-paper entitled “From Huagong to Citizens: The Chinese Experience in Sabah” at the Sabah Society talk on 7th September 2017 and his call for a Chinese heritage museum highlighting Sabah Chinese contribution in building Malaysia.

Like many others who attended the talk, I greatly benefitted in knowledge terms on various issues relating to the topic and I hope the Federation of Chinese Clan Associations (FCAS) under Tan Sri TC Goh would look into the museum proposal.

In retrospect, I would like to express my personal observations:

1) Your mentioning of Albert Kwok’s Double-Tenth Kinabalu Guerrillas Uprising against the Japanese brought me back to the 60s whereby I learned about him from the school textbook in Ming Sing Primary Chinese School in Sandakan but there’s nothing in the present school books ever since we agreed to form Malaysia.

I wonder if this is deliberate to downplay the contributions and sacrifices of the Chinese in Sabah and Malaysia.

Recently, there was clamour to introduce in the history books the sacrifices of an Indian lady Sybil Kathigesu who provided medical care to the anti-Japanese resistance group in Malaya and for which she was tortured and died from the wounds.

There is currently a signature campaign that has collected thousands of names to include her heroic deeds in the history syllabus and I wonder if the Chinese associations in Sabah should do the same.

2) One prominent historic figure of North Borneo who should be mentioned along with others, in my view, is Charles Macaskie who was appointed Chief Justice for North Borneo in 1935.

He was appointed Advisor on Chinese affairs in 1922 (quoted from Professor Wong’s article appearing in Daily Express 7th June 2004).

Macaskie also interpreted the terms of the treaty with the Sulu Sultan when the heirs took the matter to court in the 1930s which resulted in the payment of a certain sum of money to the Sultan in perpetuity, and which he admitted would be a decision that might pose a problem to the future administrators of then British North Borneo. He was also influential in the decision not to let the Australian request to administer Sabah after the war, a decision which changed the future history of Sabah.

3) The speaker presented that the then mistrust and suspicion between the Native community and the Chinese on the issue of whether Sabah should be granted Independence on its own had an impact leading to the formation of Malaysia.

I note that “three uneventful happenings” had bearing on the then attitude of Sabahans and Sarawakians on the formation of Malaysia. They were the Brunei Rebellion on 8 Dec 1962 (by Sheikh Azahari); the Phillipines Claim on Sabah (by President Macapagal) and the Indonesian’s Confrontation policy ( by President Sukarno).

I hope that Prof Wong and others on knowledge about the history of Sabah like James Sarda and Zainnal Ajamain will continue to present their thought (without fear and favour) in public forum or in newspapers to enlighten Sabahans.

Robert Lam

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