Kung Temple I Sam
Sing Kung Chinese Temple I Puu
Jih Shih Buddhist Temple I The
Australia Memorial I Agnes
Keith's House I Masjid
Jamek I St
Michael's & All Angels Church I Berhala
Island I Japanese
Cemetery I The
"Sandakan" is derived from the Suluk word "sanda"
meaning, to pawn and "kan" being the suffix. So "Sandakan"
means the place that was pawned. Who pawned it, and to whom, remains
As the story goes, in the early 1870s, William Clarke Cowie, a
Scottish adventure and engineer, delivered guns and ammunitions
to the Sultan of Sulu, then protecting his territory from Spanish
conquerors. In return, Cowie was granted permission by the Sultan
to set up base on Pulau Timbang, in Sandakan Bay, where a small
Suluk village existed. Cowie called his base "Sandakan"
but it soon became known as "Kampong German" due to the
number of German traders who visited Cowie.
The settlement was re-located to Buli Sim Sim in 1879. It was an
uninhabited jungle and mangrove area but with one of the most beautiful
natural harbours in the world. He named the new settlement, "Elopura"
meaning "The Beautiful City" but the name reverted to
In 1883, the British North Borneo Chartered Company moved its capital
from Kudat to Sandakan. A "building mania" started and
Sandakan became a bustling modern town though Allied bombings to
liberate it towards the end of World War 2 nearly flattened the
In retaliation, the Japanese burnt whatever remained and Sandakan
as a town, ceased to exist in June 1945. In 1946, the capital was
moved to Jesselton (subsequently, renamed Kota Kinabalu).
Sandakan was first and foremost a port for the export of logs and
timber. In fact, it was said that Sandakan timber went into the
building of Peking's Temple of Heaven. In its heyday, Sandakan used
to boast of having the greatest concentration of millionaires in
the world! Today, it is known more as the gateway to nature's most
prolific treasures in Borneo.