Return to Coronet Books main page

Transformation of an Immigrant Society
A Study of the Chinese of Sabah

By Danny Wong Tze-Ken
December 1998
ASEAN Academic Press
ISBN: 1-901919-16-1
218 pages, Illustrated, 5 3/4" x 8 3/4"
$79.50 Hardcover

This is a story about the Chinese living in the East Malaysian state of Sabah on the island of Borneo, a people representing part of the wider spectrum of the population outside mainland China. It is the history of the Chinese who had braved the odds and ventured to build their livelihood in a foreign land before and during World War II from 1881 to 1946. Sharing a common root, the Chinese of Sabah and their other Southeast Asian counterparts possess many similar characteristics, yet within these similarities are variants which distinguish them from the rest. Apart from being the largest non-indigenous ethnic group in Sabah, they also stand out in many ways in relation to the other Chinese communities in Malaysia. Distinctively prevalent amongst the Chinese of Sabah is its large composition of Hakkas, thus making the Hakka dialect the lingua franca of the Chinese in the state, a feature few can parallel in Malaysia or Southeast Asia. Within this community is also found a large number of Christians, forming thirty percent of the total Chinese population in Sabah. The Chinese of Sabah also stamped their prominence when they staged an open uprising against the Japanese Army during World War II despite a lack of resources and manpower, a feat few communities in Southeast Asia could emulate. Even in local politics, they have proved to be different as they build themselves into a cohesive political force, and have to this day provided the state with two chief ministers. This book provides a backdrop to these dominant features and an insight into what made the Chinese of Sabah who they are today.

History; Sociology