Beyond the textbooks: in Singapore, Japanese Peace Boat passengers reflect on the Sook Ching massacre [Kota Kinabalu to Singapore]

Photo: Peace Boat passengers tour a heritage village near the Sabah Museum in Kota Kinabalu. (Joseph Hincks)

Peace Boat passengers tour a heritage village near the Sabah Museum in Kota Kinabalu. (Joseph Hincks)

On Friday 28 November, Sabah tour guide Akmal gave 33 Japanese Peace Boat passengers a whistle stop tour of the Sabah Museum in Kota Kinabalu. The group’s itinerary – which also included a visit to a public zoo and a heritage village, lunch, and allotted time for souvenir shopping – was tight, and they filed past glass-cased Bajau drums and skull relics of the Kadazan-Dusun tribe’s headhunting days towards the portion of the museum dedicated to Borneo’s colonial history.

74 years earlier, on December 13 1941, a Japanese invasion convoy led by Major-General Kawaguchi Kiyotake left Cam Ranh Bay in French Indochina, bound for British Borneo. The Japanese Imperial Army, who occupied Borneo until 1945, decimated many local populations and killed Malay intellectuals.

As Akmal annotated the museum’s installations, the Peace Boat group learned about maritime trading history, the Malay and Sea Dayak pirates and the Dutch East Indies; and about British colonialism and the Jesselton Railway that hefted spices to the seaport in present day Kota Kinabalu. Then Akhmal paused in front of the placards depicting the Japanese Imperial Army’s occupation of Borneo. “Is —> Read More Here

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