Kal­abakan tragedy tested our unity, say Malaysians

The Star Malaysia - - Nation -

TAWAU: The tragedy in Kal­abakan on Dec 29, 1963, is still fresh in the minds of Saba­hans, es­pe­cially for­mer se­cu­rity mem­bers in­volved in the fight to de­fend the state from in­va­sion by the In­done­sian Na­tional Armed Forces.

The in­ci­dent show­cased the unity of the se­cu­rity forces from Sabah, Sarawak and the Penin­sula just months af­ter the for­ma­tion of the Malaysian Fed­er­a­tion on Sept 16 that year.

A bat­tal­ion from the 3rd Royal Malay Reg­i­ment in penin­su­lar Malaysia, the Po­lice Field Force, Sabah Home Guard and vil­lagers in Kal­abakan united to fight off the at­tacks.

The in­trud­ers were dis­sat­is­fied with Sabah and Sarawak for join­ing the fed­er­a­tion.

The Kal­abakan in­ci­dent re­sulted in the deaths of an of­fi­cer and seven men from the Royal Malay Reg­i­ment while 18 other per­son­nel were in­jured de­fend­ing the mil­i­tary base that was on the bor­der with East Kal­i­man­tan, In­done­sia.

For­mer Sabah Home Guard per­son­nel De­wan Husin, 74, said to­day’s gen­er­a­tion should be thank­ful that they were born at a time when peace and har­mony had al­ready been se­cured, in­her­it­ing a safe and de­vel­op­ing na­tion.

“The for­ma­tion of Malaysia mo­ti­vated peo­ple from the nu­mer­ous races in the coun­try to work to­gether to up­hold its se­cu­rity.

“I urge Malaysians to al­ways trea­sure the peace earned from the sac­ri­fices made on the road to in­de­pen­dence and the for­ma­tion of Malaysia,” he said.

De­wan said that fol­low­ing the in­ci­dent, a cur­few was im­posed and the res­i­dents of Kal­abakan were in­structed to shel­ter in du­gouts and to keep all lights off at night – it was a dif­fi­cult time.

Re­tired teacher Im­ran Omar, 71, said there were many lessons to be learned from the his­tory of the In­done­sia-Malaysia con­fronta­tion, par­tic­u­larly the tragedy in Kal­abakan.

“Fol­low­ing the for­ma­tion of Malaysia, Royal Malay Reg­i­ment per­son­nel were dis­patched to en­sure that the bor­der at Kal­abakan and Wal­lace Bay (Pu­lau Se­batik) were well guarded.

For for­mer Tawau district head, Salleh Sal­labi, 79, the con­fronta­tion tested the com­bined strength of Sabah, Sarawak and the Fed­er­a­tion of Malaya against In­done­sia which launched the “Ganyang Malaysia” war cam­paign and the Philip­pines which claimed Sabah as its ter­ri­tory. — Ber­nama

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