“Sabah’s history is very lacking in the Malaysian history textbooks”, says Richard Ker. Therefore he founded the North Borneo Historical Society in 2011.
One of the main goals of the group is to educate the people of Sabah on the importance of Sabah’s history. This is done through sharing of “bite-size” history via Facebook posts. Within only 5 years the group developed into a huge community. “There are currently more than 35,000 followers on Facebook and many of them were expats who used to live in Sabah. Some of them have donated old photos and/or materials related to Sabah,” Richard explains.
But the collecting and publishing of information is only one facet of Richard’s work. Apart from that, he is also actively involved in helping to maintain historical buildings and structures.
Such as the Melalap Train Station. The station which is now in a poor condition was once part of the economic history of North Borneo, as the state of Sabah was formerly called. “During the early 1900’s, a huge area surrounding the station was planted with rubber trees. The rubber industry was booming during World War I due to high demand of this material. Melalap had a significant contribution to Sabah’s economy,” Richard elaborates on the importance of the station. “It was built in 1906 and was connected to Tenom which is about 15km away. The station was used to transport people, rubber and jungle produces. The service was stopped in the 1970’s due to modern transportation systems.”
Since then the building has basically been left to itself and now, some 45 years later, is in a very bad condition. However, “the state government is currently working on gazetting the station and to declare it as heritage”, Richard points out. “The plan is to build a mini museum to showcase the local history.”
To support the idea, Richard and his team of volunteers started a fundraising project. The aim is to collect enough money to put the idea into reality. ” The early estimate is RM400,000 but based on the feedback from the State Museum, it may cost even more,” says Richard.
Anyone who is interested in the project and/or would like to donate, please find more information here:
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/northborneohistory