The Indonesian Confrontation or Konfrontasi is a less known history among Malaysians but undeniably it was one of the most important historical events that happened just after the formation of Malaysia.
Kalabakan is a small township located about 55km from Tawau and was once a thriving timber town. It is also not far from Silimpopon, which was the location of what was once the largest lost coal mine in the world.
Tawau, in the Southeast Coast of North Borneo (Sabah) was the major frontline against the enemy. There was a huge military deployment near the old airport and troops from Britain and Australia were sent to Tawau to help protect the town and its borders. It was an “undeclared war” with Indonesia and plenty of lives were lost during this conflict.
At 11:00 pm on 29 December, the Royal Malay Regiment position had been taken by surprise by Indonesian militants, with 8 killed, including the commander, and 19 wounded. An attack shortly after on the police station failed. The attackers moved north instead of east to liberate Tawau.
A memorial in Kalabakan was erected to remember those who have fallen protecting the country’s borders. There’s also a similar memorial in Tawau town just near the Padang and sea port.
Here’s the exclusive footage from Filem Negara Malaysia released sometime in the sixties:
footage courtesy Filem Negara Malaysia