Remember the North Borneo resistance fighters

  • Letters
  • Tuesday, 17 Aug 2010

I refer to your report “Tribute to WWII heroes” (The Star, Aug 16). It is about time that Malaysians recognise the role played by the people of Sabah (then known as North Borneo) in the anti-Japanese resistance during World War II. The release of Lynette Silver’s new book, Blood Brothers, is most timely.

I read with dismay that North Borneo Resistance fighters like Chin Chee Kong and Joseph Wong were ignored when the Sandakan Memorial Park was opened in 1999.

Besides the living, we should also remember the dead, including those who took part in the ill-fated Jesselton (as Kota Kinabalu was then called) Uprising against the Japanese on Oct 9, 1943.

These were the heroes and they included the leader of the Jesselton Uprising, Kuching-born Albert Kwok, his deputy Lim Teng Fatt together with Charles Peter, CPO of the North Borneo Armed Constabulary, Lt Li Tet Phui, Sergeant Jules Stephens (father of the late Tun Fuad Stephens), Sergeant Budh Singh and Corporal Sohan Singh of the North Borneo Volunteer Force, deputy assistant district officer Tsen Tsau Kong and Kong Tze Phui. Let us also not forget the brave Suluk warriors who fought with them. They gave their lives so that Sabahans could be free.

On the east coast of Sabah around Sandakan, another group of heroes went into action helping Allied POWs.

The bravery of the Funk brothers is still remembered – Alexander, Johnny and Paddy who were cousins of the late Tun Fuad Stephens and members of the North Borneo Volunteer Force.

Tragically, Alexander together with Jemedar Ujagah Singh, Sergeant Abin, detective Ernesto Lagan, Heng Ju Ming, Wong Mu Sing and Filipino guerilla Lt Felix Azcona were executed by the Japanese for their role in helping the POWs. Many others were tortured and imprisoned until the end of the war.

Johnny and Paddy survived torture and imprisonment. The Australian Government offered them A$92 (RM260) each for their wartime services, which they declined.

It is estimated that some 2,400 Sabahans took part in the North Borneo Resistance.


Malaysian volunteers group,

Kuala Lumpur.

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