British Borneo

British Borneo comprised the four northern parts of the island of Borneo, which are now the country of Brunei, two Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, and the Malaysian territory of Labuan.[1][2] During the British colonial rule before World War II, Sarawak was known as the Kingdom of Sarawak (1841–1946), Sabah was known as North Borneo (1881–1946), and Labuan was known as the Crown Colony of Labuan (1848–1946). Between World War II and their independence from Britain, Sarawak became the Crown Colony of Sarawak (1946–1963) whereas Sabah and Labuan combined to form the Crown Colony of North Borneo (1946–1963). The Kingdom of Brunei (1888/1906-1984) was a protectorate of the United Kingdom since the 1888/1906 Protectorate Agreement, and was known as British Protectorate State of Brunei.[3]

British Borneo and Dutch Borneo
  British Borneo

Catholic missions

In 1687 Father Ventimiglia, a Theatine, was commissioned by Pope Innocent XI to preach Christianity in Borneo. There are no memorials of this mission, which has left no traces in the island although the missionary declared that God had blessed his labours.

The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples decreed on 27 August 1855 the erection of the northern part of the island of Borneo into an independent prefecture of North Borneo and Labuan and entrusted it to the Rev. Carlos Cuarteron, a Spaniard. Father Cuarteron was originally a sea-captain and had vowed, after escaping great peril, to devote himself to the evangelisation of Borneo. He landed at Labuan in 1857, in company with several missionaries who deserted him in 1860. Although alone in the island of Labuan, Father Cuarteron courageously continued his labours. At length, seeing that isolation made him powerless, he went to Rome in 1879 to request that the Propaganda place the mission in charge of an institute. From Rome Father Cuarteron went to Spain, where he soon died.

The island of Labuan has an area of 30 square miles (78 km2) and contains 6,800 inhabitants; it is an important shipping station between Singapore and Hong Kong. The prefect Apostolic lives at Labuan. The stations served are Labuan and Kuching (Sarawak), the two most important towns. Outside of these two places where the missionaries live ten stations are visited: Sibu, Kanowit, Igan, Oya, Mukah, Baram, Papar, Jesselton, Putatan, and Sandakan. According to the " Missions-Atlas " of P. Streit, the statistics of the Catholic mission in the early 20th century were: 19 regular priests, 2 lay brothers, 15 sisters; 8 churches; 20 chapels; 16 catechists; 14 schools with 740 pupils; 2,600 baptisms; about 1,000 catechumens.

British power

The British had obtained the island of Labuan in 1846; they gradually extended their power over the petty rulers of the northern part of Borneo until, in 1888, the British protectorate of North Borneo was formally acknowledged. English speaking missionaries being desired in the British part of Borneo, the Propaganda (19 March 1881) confided the mission of North Borneo and Labuan to the Society for Foreign Missions of Mill Hill, from England. The first prefect Apostolic appointed under the new administration was the Rev. Thomas Jackson. The society continued in charge of the mission.

During the Second World War, the British realised they were unable to defend the colony from the powerful Imperial Japanese Navy. They destroyed the airfields, and especially the oil fields there and in Brunei before the Japanese landed on 16 December 1941. The small British forces surrendered. In 1943, the Chinese population of about 50,000 rebelled against Japan and seized some towns. They were overwhelmed with many executed. Australia sent special operation forces, which trained and armed local militia units and aided the landing of an Australian division in June 1945. Japanese forces numbered about 31,000, and held out until October 1945, long after the Emperor had surrendered.[4]

Malaysia tree diagram
Evolution of Malaysia.


  1. ^ George Lawrence Harris (1956). North Borneo, Brunei, Sarawak (British Borneo). Human Relations Area Files.
  2. ^ W. H. (William Hood) Treacher, Sir (December 2012). British Borneo Sketches of Brunai, Sarawak, Labuan, and North Borneo. Tredition Classics. ISBN 978-3-8472-1906-4.
  3. ^ Leigh R. Wright (1 July 1988). The Origins of British Borneo. Hong Kong University Press. pp. 181–. ISBN 978-962-209-213-6.
  4. ^ I.C.B Dear, ed, The Oxford Companion to World War II (1995) p 163

Further reading

Battle of Borneo (1941–42)

The Battle of Borneo was a successful campaign by Japanese Imperial forces for control of Borneo island and concentrated mainly on the subjugation of the Kingdom of Sarawak, Brunei, North Borneo, and the western part of Kalimantan that was part of the Dutch East Indies. The Japanese main unit for this mission was the 35th Infantry Brigade led by Major-General Kiyotake Kawaguchi.

Borneo Company Limited

Borneo Company Limited, formed in 1856, was one of the oldest companies based in East Malaysia (Sarawak and Sabah).

Borneo campaign (1945)

The Borneo campaign of 1945 was the last major Allied campaign in the South West Pacific Area during World War II to liberate the-Japanese held British Borneo and Dutch Borneo. In a series of amphibious assaults between 1 May and 21 July, the Australian I Corps, under Lieutenant General Leslie Morshead, attacked Imperial Japanese forces occupying the island. Allied naval and air forces, centred on the U.S. 7th Fleet under Admiral Thomas Kinkaid, the Australian First Tactical Air Force and the U.S. Thirteenth Air Force also played important roles in the campaign. They were resisted by Imperial Japanese Navy and Army forces in southern and eastern Borneo, under Vice-Admiral Michiaki Kamada, and in the north west by the Thirty-Seventh Army, led by Lieutenant-General Masao Baba.

British Military Administration (Borneo)

The British Military Administration (BMA) was the interim administrator of British Borneo between the end of the Second World War and the establishment of the Crown Colonies of Sarawak and North Borneo in 1946. Specifically, the entity lasted from 12 September 1945 to 1 July 1946. Labuan became the headquarters of BMA. The headquarters was mostly managed by the Australian Imperial Force (AIF).

British North Borneo dollar

The British North Borneo dollar was the currency of British North Borneo from 1882 to 1953. It was subdivided into 100 cents. The dollar had remained at par with the Straits dollar (and its successor the Malayan dollar), the currency of Malaya and Singapore, at the value of one dollar to 2 shillings 4 pence sterling from its introduction until both currencies were replaced by the Malaya and British Borneo dollar in 1953. Both coins and banknotes were issued by the British North Borneo Company.

During the Japanese occupation period (1942–1945), paper money was issued in denominations ranging from 1 cent to 1000 dollars. This currency was fixed at 1 dollar = 1 Japanese yen, compared to a 1:2 pre-war rate. Following the war, the Japanese occupation currency was declared worthless and the previous issues of the British North Borneo dollar regained their value relative to sterling (two shillings four pence).

Brunei dollar

The Brunei dollar (Malay: ringgit Brunei, currency code: BND), has been the currency of the Sultanate of Brunei since 1967. It is normally abbreviated with the dollar sign $, or alternatively B$ to distinguish it from other dollar-denominated currencies. It is divided into 100 sen (Malay) or cents (English). The Brunei dollar is issued by the Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (Monetary Authority of Brunei Darussalam).

Under a Currency Interchangeability Agreement in 1967, the Brunei dollar is interchangeable with the Singapore dollar at par. As such, the Brunei dollar is accepted in Singapore as "customary tender"; likewise, the Singapore dollar is accepted for payments in Brunei.

Crown Colony of Labuan

The Crown Colony of Labuan was a British Crown colony on the northwestern shore of the island of Borneo established in 1848 after the acquisition of the island of Labuan from the Sultanate of Brunei in 1846. Apart from the main island, Labuan consists of six smaller islands; Burung, Daat, Kuraman, Papan, Rusukan Kecil, and Rusukan Besar.

Labuan was expected by the British to be a second Singapore, but it did not fulfill its promise especially after the failure of its coal production that did not become fruitful, causing investors to withdraw their money, leaving all machinery equipment and Chinese workers that had entered the colony previously. The Chinese workers then began involving themselves in other businesses with many becoming chief traders of the island's produce of edible bird's nest, pearl, sago and camphor, with the main successful production later being the coconut, rubber and sago.

World War II brought the invasion of Japanese forces which abruptly ended British administration. Subsequently, Labuan became the place where the Japanese commander in Borneo surrendered to the Allied forces, with the territory placed under a military administration before merging into a new crown colony.

Crown Colony of North Borneo

The Crown Colony of North Borneo was a British Crown colony on the island of Borneo established in 1946 shortly after the dissolution of the British Military Administration. The Crown Colony of Labuan joined the new Crown Colony during its formation. It was succeeded as the state of Sabah through the formation of the Federation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963.

Crown Colony of Sarawak

The Crown Colony of Sarawak was a British Crown colony on the island of Borneo, established in 1946, shortly after the dissolution of the British Military Administration. It was succeeded as the state of Sarawak through the formation of the Federation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963.

Japanese government-issued dollar in Malaya and Borneo

The Japanese government-issued dollar was a form of currency issued for use within the Imperial Japan-occupied territories of Singapore, Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Brunei between 1942 and 1945. The currency was also referred to informally (and with more than a trace of contempt and derision) as banana money (Malay: duit pisang), named as such because of the motifs of banana trees on 10 dollar banknotes. The Japanese dollar was in widespread use within the occupied territories where the previous currency became scarce. The currency were referred to as "dollars" and "cents" like its predecessors, the Straits dollar, Malayan dollar, Sarawak dollar and British North Borneo dollar.

The Japanese dollar was one of several forms of Japanese invasion money issued throughout the newly-expanded Empire of Japan. Similar currencies were issued in Burma (as the Japanese rupee), the Dutch East Indies (as the Japanese gulden/roepiah), the Philippines (as the Japanese peso) and various Melanesian and Polynesian territories (as the Japanese pound).

Japanese occupation of British Borneo

Before the outbreak of World War II in the Pacific, the island of Borneo was divided into five territories. Four of the territories were in the north and under British control – Sarawak, Brunei, Labuan, an island, and British North Borneo; while the remainder, and bulk, of the island, was under the jurisdiction of the Dutch East Indies.

On 16 December 1941, Japanese forces landed at Miri, Sarawak having sailed from Cam Ranh Bay in French Indochina. It took the Japanese less than a month to conquer the entire island. The Japanese subsequently renamed the northern part as North Borneo (北ボルネオ, Kita Boruneo), Labuan as Maida Island (前田島, Maeda-shima) and the neighbouring Dutch territories as South Borneo (南ボルネオ, Minami Boruneo). For the first time in modern history all of Borneo was under a single rule.British Borneo was occupied by the Japanese for over three years. They actively promoted the Japanisation of the local population by requiring them to learn the Japanese language and customs. The Japanese divided the North Borneo into five provincial administrations (shus) and constructed airfields. Several prisoner of war camps were operated by the Japanese. Allied soldiers and most colonial officials were detained in them, together with members of underground movements who opposed the Japanese occupation. Meanwhile, local Malay leaders were maintained in position with Japanese surveillance and many foreign workers were brought to the territory.

Towards the end of 1945, Australian commandos were deployed to the island by US submarines with the Allied Z Special Unit conducting intelligence operations and training thousands of indigenous people to fight the Japanese in guerrilla warfare in the Borneo Campaign in preparation for the arrival of the main Allied liberation missions. Following landings in North Borneo and Labuan from 10 June 1945 by a combination of Australian and American forces, the island of Borneo was liberated. The British Military Administration formally took over from the Japanese on 12 September 1945.

John Beattie (rugby union)

John Ross Beattie (born 27 November 1957) is a Scottish broadcaster and former rugby union player.


Labuan (Jawi: لابوان), officially the Federal Territory of Labuan (Malay: Wilayah Persekutuan Labuan, Jawi: ولايه ڤرسكوتوان لابوان), is a federal territory of Malaysia. It is made up of the eponymous Labuan Island and six smaller islands, and is located off the coast of the state of Sabah in East Malaysia. Labuan's capital is Victoria and is best known as an offshore financial centre offering international financial and business services via Labuan IBFC since 1990 as well as being an offshore support hub for deepwater oil and gas activities in the region. It is also a tourist destination for people travelling through Sabah, nearby Bruneians and scuba divers. The name Labuan derives from the Malay word labuhan which means harbour. Labuan is often referred to as the pearl of Borneo.

List of defunct airlines of Malaysia

This is a list of defunct airlines from Malaysia including British Borneo.

Liu Shan Bang

Liu Shan Bang (simplified Chinese: 刘善邦; traditional Chinese: 劉善邦; pinyin: Liú Shànbāng) (1800-1857) was a Chinese gold miner in Bau, Sarawak. He is now known as the leader of the 1857 Chinese Uprising against the White Rajahs .

A Hakka born in Lufeng, Guangdong, China, around 1800, Liu left for Sambas, Borneo, at the age of 20. He is said to have worked at the Sam Tiau Kow gold mine there until mistreatment by the Dutch caused him to lead a group of miners to the Bau area of Sarawak (perhaps Pangkalan Tebang). He organised the 'Twelve Kongsi' company which operated the Mau San gold mine and made the mining town of Mau San (or Bau Lama) effectively self-governing.

They unearth a 24 carat gold deep under the ground and turn the Mau San become a prosperous thriving gold town. Event took a short turn, when The White Rajah eyeing the gold mine by imposing a high tax on Mau San gold mine business.

Logie Danson

Ernest Denny Logie Danson (14 June 1880 - 9 December 1946) was an Anglican bishop in the first half of the 20th century.He was born into a distinguished clerical family on 14 June 1880 and educated at Trinity College, Glenalmond and Aberdeen University. He was ordained in 1906 and began his career with a curacy at St Paul's Cathedral, Dundee. From 1906 he was a Missionary Priest in Southeast Asia eventually becoming Bishop of Labuan and Sarawak. He then returned to England as a Canon Residentiary at Carlisle Cathedral before being appointed Provost of St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh. He was then elected Bishop of Edinburgh in 1939. Four years later he became Primus of Scotland, a post he held to his death on 9 December 1946.

Malaya and British Borneo dollar

The Malaya and British Borneo dollar (known as the ringgit in Malay, Jawi: رڠڬيت) was the currency of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak, North Borneo, Brunei and Riau archipelago from 1953 to 1967 and was the successor of the Malayan dollar and Sarawak dollar, replacing them at par. The currency was issued by the Board of Commissioners of Currency, Malaya and British Borneo. Prior to 1952, the board was known as the Board of Commissioners of Currency, Malaya.

The Malaya and British Borneo dollar was used in Malaya after independence in 1957, and in Malaysia after its formation in 1963, as well as in Singapore after its independence in 1965. After 1967, the two countries and Brunei ended the common currency arrangement and began issuing their own currencies. However, the Malaya and British Borneo dollar continued to be legal tender until 16 January 1969. The currency was also being used in the Riau Archipelago in Indonesia prior to 1963.

Sarawak dollar

The dollar was the currency of Sarawak from 1858 to 1953. It was subdivided into 100 cents. The dollar remained at par with the Straits dollar and its successor the Malayan dollar, the currency of Malaya and Singapore, from its introduction until both currencies were replaced by the Malaya and British Borneo dollar in 1953.

During the Japanese occupation period (1942–1945), paper money was issued in denominations ranging from 1 cent to 1,000 dollars. This currency was fixed at 1 dollar = 1 Japanese yen, compared to a 1:2 pre-war rate. Following the war, the Japanese occupation currency was declared worthless and the previous issues of the Sarawakian dollar regained their value relative to sterling (two shillings four pence).

Syarif Masahor

Sharif Masahor bin Muhammad Al-Shahab, also written as Syed Mashhor and commonly known as Syarif Masahor, or Sharif Masahor in Malayan contexts, (died 1890 in Selangor) was a famous Malay rebel of Hadhrami descent in Sarikei, Sarawak state, Malaysia during the Brooke White Rajahs era in that state. Later, he played an important role in the Klang War.


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