KOTA KINABALU: A Chinese heritage museum should be set up in Sabah to document the early arrival and contributions of the community to the state.
Sabah-born historian Prof Dr Danny Wong Tze Ken said it was important to put in place a heritage or cultural centre to keep records, to ensure the contribution of the Chinese would not be forgotten.
“I hope community leaders in Sabah will seriously consider setting up the museum,” he said at the “From Huagong (Chinese labourers) to Citizens: The Chinese Experience in Sabah” public lecture organised by Sabah Society over the weekend.
Prof Wong, who is director of Universiti Malaya’s Institute of China Studies, noted that the Chinese in Indonesia had set up a Hakka museum in Jakarta which had been officially approved as the Indonesian Chinese Museum.
“It was aimed at documenting the contributions of our Chinese forefathers to Indonesia,” he said, urging local community leaders to make a similar museum a reality in Sabah as there had been talk about setting up such an institution in the past.
The historian said the Chinese community in Sabah, had many contributions including their role in the Kinabalu Guerrillas who fought against the Japanese Occupation of North Borneo (now named Sabah) during World War Two.
“They (the Chinese) worked together with other races, shedding blood for their homeland, not only in Kinabalu Guerrillas, but also in the Brunei Rebellion and during Konfrontasi.
“Many of them joined the police, armed forces and Sabah Rangers,” said Prof Wong, adding that such a museum would remind people that the Chinese played an important role in the defence of the state, not only in business and finance.
During his talk, he also spoke on the Chinese playing the political “kingmaker” role in the formation of state governments between 1967 and the early 1990s as well as their declining population in Sabah due to migration and lower birth rates.
Prof Wong also noted many Chinese migrants viewed Sabah as their homeland, not China.
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