Keningau: Heritage and Legacy in the Interior Residency
This book is based on the history of Keningau and an attempt to explore all the aspects of life, experiences and recollections of our forbears who had went through a lot, with changes over the years, since the past centuries at beginning of the rise of the British Empire until post-independence to present-day.
In 1893, Keningau began its humble beginnings when it was officially administered by the British North Borneo Chartered Company by setting up a Station and later on a District Office, which would then expand and extend government control in the Interior Residency. Development and infrastructure began to improve in favour of the local inhabitants until the administration of the Chartered Company was halted following the Japanese Occupation from 1942-1945 during World War II. After the war, the township had to rebuilt itself and pick up the pieces. Slow but eventually, the town grew.
In the early 1960s, nationhood was at its height when Sabah (North Borneo renamed) gained its independence followed by the Formation of the Federation of Malaysia in 1963, which the prominent leaders in Keningau played major roles by ensuring safeguards and guarantees of the local community were respected. After post-independence, newer chapters were revealed in the district namely the Indonesian Confrontation 1963-1966, nation building and the timber industry towards the end of the twentieth century.
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Keningau had been growing and expanding exceedingly while at the same time retaining its identity and heritage although the journey was not an easy one. It is so only right that the detailed history of Keningau and subsequent events are written for the sake of later generations and would be passed on for they shall never be forgotten.
This book is a compilation of official records, autobiographies and memories among the communities in Keningau gathered over the years. This is the history that had shaped the structure, background, culture, social and landmarks of the town and the surrounding villages in this wonderful valley in the Interior Residency of Sabah (formerly British North Borneo).
Since the beginning of the early settlements, Keningau had been made known around the world from the export of jungle products notably Kayu Manis or cinnamon. It was collected from the District by the British North Borneo Chartered Company and sent to Jesselton (modern Kota Kinabalu) via rail from Tenom to be shipped abroad. All the jungle produce from British North Borneo were brought back to Great Britain for distribution in the trade market and neighboring European countries for there was a high demand. It was from commerce that the country was exposed to the world and notably Keningau for its amazing commodities.
Apart from trade, the setting up of a Government Station and the development of the District since the early days had created the history in the valley where construction and challenges had become part of the country’s heritage. As each passing year, development was visible in stages in various aspects while the local community assimilated the new way of lifestyles henceforth. Events with the outbreak of international conflicts and post-war reconstruction in the move towards independence were nonetheless important where the natives and local communities were filled with the spirit of nationhood and a sense of identity.
Let us also not forget the prominent leaders of the past, Native Chiefs, Chinese Kapitans, Orang Kaya-Kaya, Towkays and community leaders for their roles and contributions for keeping Keningau up and running. The writings of this book also included official accounts of Keningau District, personal experiences of people, geographical and demographic changes, artefacts and above all, photographs that were compiled from various sources locally and abroad. May this humble exposure lead to one’s dignity and pride upon realising our true identity through historical accounts of being a resident of Keningau; in the past, present and in the future.