KOTA KINABALU: The Federation of Chinese Associations Sabah (FCAS) is prepared to set up a proposed Chinese Heritage Museum for Sabah, if given the go ahead by the State Government, said its president, Tan Sri T.C. Goh.
“We will get the full support of the Chinese community in the state. We, in FCAS, are more than willing to undertake to set up such a monumental and worthy project. We believe it would not only benefit the Chinese community in the state, but also the entire state, as, besides restoring and preserving Sabah history, Chinese culture and traditions, a Chinese Heritage Museum would have a great potential to become yet another major tourism attraction for Sabah. And, this would essentially create more job opportunities for the people of Sabah across the board, besides boosting the state revenue.
“In addition, it would also lead to further enhancement of the existing long-established Sino-Malaysian relations through historical and cultural exchange programs between Sabah and China, subsequently,” he said.
He believed that Sabah has plenty of interesting and colourful historical tales on the diaspora of Chinese immigrants, who were later known as ‘overseas Chinese’ that are still waiting to be made known to the world or to be better presented.
He cited the heroic tale of Albert Kwok, a leader of the ‘Kinabalu Guerrillas’ and the initiator of the so-called ‘Double Tenth Revolt’ as an example that should be better told to the world to honour his sacrifice in the wake of the Japanese invasion and occupation of Sabah (North Borneo at that time) during the Second World War.
Goh said this while welcoming the call by Kapayan assemblyman Dr Edwin Bosi, urging the government to turn the burned-down old building next to Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank (HSBC) here, where the historical transfer of the colony from the North Borneo Chartered Company to the Crown took place in 1946, into a Chinese Heritage Museum.
Historical records showed that with the assistance of an estimated 300 guerrilla fighters, Kwok launched an attack on the Japanese troops on the eve of 10 October 1943, which resulted in more than 60 Japanese troops being killed.
However, Kwok, along with several of the movement leaders, were forced to surrender themselves when the Japanese army threatened to execute 400 civilians in Shantung Valley, near here, if the group did not surrender. Kwok, together with four other leaders – Charles Peter, Tsen Tsau Kong, Kong Tze Phui, Li Tet Phui – were later executed by the Japanese army.
The ‘Petagas War Memorial’ in Putatan was then built as a memorial to Kwok and the other innocent victims of the Japanese army executions.
“We also hope that one day, Kwok’s martyrdom can be made into a box office action movie like that of the ‘Wolf Warriors’ series, which we believe would help to generate substantial publicity for Sabah and its tourism industry, in particular,” Goh suggested.
He also thanked Bosi, who is also a native rights advocate cum Parti Anak Negeri (PAN) Penampang chief, for recognizing the contributions of the Chinese in the development of Sabah, even long before the formation of Malaysia.
According to Professor Dr Danny Wong Tze Ken, director of UM’s Institute of China Studies, historical records showed that the Chinese began to arrive in Sabah as early as 1846, after the establishment of British rule in Labuan.
In a statement issued on Monday, Bosi said that a museum for the Sabah Chinese community will go a long way to recognize them for their contributions to the development and well-being of Sabah. He was also confident that the museum will be a big hit among Malaysians, especially Sabahans, and the thousands of visitors from all over the world, especially from China and Taiwan.
Goh also concurred with Bosi’s view that the establishment of such a museum may facilitate the sino-natives in Sabah to trace their ancestry in China or Taiwan.
Bosi noted that there were arguments over the root of the Kadazans, Dusuns and Muruts whether they are from China or Taiwan because of some close resemblance in the culture, especially in the costume.