The history of the second largest town in Sabah, Tawau would depend on where the story came from. The Tidong community said that it came from the fishing hook which they called ‘tawau’ which they left for the fish to be hooked. They mentioned this word when the British came to Tawau River and had asked them the name of the river. As they did not understand the English language they thought that the British had asked what they were doing.
The Bugis community instead claimed that ‘tawau’ means it is their ‘ownership'.
The Cocos Islander Community said it came from the word ‘tawar’ which means no taste or no power as when people entered Tawau their power became useless or ‘tawar’.
The other communities like the Murut may have different meaning to the word ‘tawau’.
Even the herbal leaves that are very bitter is called ‘tawao’ and these leaves are normally taken raw if you have problem with sugar level or diabetic.
It could also have come from the word ‘davao’ after Davao City in the Mindanao Island. To me this is more accurate as there is also a place called Tinagat and in Mindanao Island there is also an Island called Dinagat in the North East of Mindanao, next to a province called Butuan.
The Muruts could also be the oldest residents except that they lived in Serudong, a village about one hour boat ride from Tawau town after Walace Bay. There were some old graves of the Tidong community at a place called Simandalam and some of the graves at fallen into the sea. There is also a new settlement in Balung called Serudong where most of the communities are Murut and Iban.
As we know it today Tawau is a port and transit point before you go to the famous Sipadan Island, which is located off Semporna or before you go to Tabin Wild Life Sanctuary or Danum Valley Rainforest Lodge in Lahad Datu or even the Madai Caves in Kunak. These are just some of the famous landmarks. Of course you can go to Tarakan and Nunukan in Indonesia in a 2-4 hours journey by boat.
The beginning of Tawau started at the Tawau River, about 2 miles away from Town and this place is called Tawau Lama or the Old Tawau, where locates many shophouses, factories and houses including the Tawau Lama Housing Esate developed by LPPB or the state owned agency that develops housing for the people. Tawau Lama or Old Tawau is some 2.5 miles off the Apas Road to Semporna.
There are no landmarks, except for the Kampong called Kampong Ice Box or Kg Titingan, after the name of a local leader Datuk Abu Bakar Titingan, who is from the Tidung Community. There are also some Arab communities living at Mile 2 and these people are called the ‘Habibs’. There is a small mosque at the River Bank in front of the house owned by a local leader, Datuk Abdul Ghafur Salleh, who is an Arab from Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
The Tawau River originated from the Tawau Forest Reserve at Gudang 4 or the Warehouse 4 where locates a famous waterfall that people go for picnic or take a dip. You have to pass through the oil palm estates that belong to Golden Hope Plantation Bhd.
Tawau is located in the Tawau Residency which also includes Semporna, Kunak, Lahad Datu towns in Sabah East Coast.
Most of Bugis community lives in Merotai and Tg Batu to the north of Tawau, the Tidung lives in the area of Balung and Apas, the Bajau in Kinabutan, the Chinese in Sin Onn and Mile 5, also in Kinabutan, the Cocos Islander Community in Balung and the Visayas in Tawau town.
Of course the island that blocks the Tawau town and port is called the Sebatik Island which is owned by Malaysia and Indonesia. Why it is called ‘Si Batik’ could have the meaning that the man who lived there had always wear a Batik sarong and Indonesia especially the island of Java is famous for its Batik, a colorful textile with local motifs and designs. Batik is mainly produced in the province of Solo, Semarang, Cirebon, each having their own design and motifs. So Si Batik could have come from one of these area or a person who had been to these area.
The Cocos Islander Community wedding and dance still wear Batik as part of its costume for the ladies as well as for the men. So you see which direction is it heading now. It is heading to the Cocos Islander Communty who had a famous leader in the name of Alexander Hare who had a kingdom in Maluka, an island off Banjarmasin.
Dont foreget the Japanese. They had some historical landmark too; a place called Kubota which used to be their base and Kuhara as well as the Japanes graveyard in the North Road to BAL Plantations.Who could have given the name to the mountain called Kukusan, located in the North part of Tawau? Half of this hill has been quarried for aggregates.
So Tawau as we know it today is just another town in Sabah which is famous for its cocoa plantation and cocoa factory operated by the Teck Guan Group, as well as the plantation owned by Golden Hope Plantation, formerly BAL Estates. BAL Estates used to plant abaca or the manila hemp at Table Estate. Manila hemp is used to make ropes especially for the ships and boats.
Tawau is also famous for its resettlement schemes. They have so many schemes like Ranggu, Serudong, Gading, Apas, Cocos Islander and the Tidong (Nasib Kita).
The old light house still stands high on the foothill of Tinagat in Apas. Tinagat is where Batu Payung is and Batu Payung is a stone located at the seaside that had story of its own in the Tidong community. This lighthouse was built by the British to facilitate ships coming into the Tawau Port.
Kementerian Pelancongan Kesenian Dan Alam Sekitar Sabah
Dewan Bahasa Dan Pustaka
Persatuan Sejarah Malaysia
- ► 2010 (53)
- Sabah Art Gallery Site
- Committee Meeting Postponed
- Batu Payung Tinagat Tawau - More A Legend
- Other Historical Landmarks In Tawau
- A Bugis Philanthropist Built This Old Tawau Mosque...
- What Used To Be A Theatre
- Tawau Central Market Built in 1972
- Between Old And New
- The Grand Old Post Office Building
- Datuk M Y Ahmad
- Weaving Industry In Kota Belud, Sabah,Malaysia
- Lest We Forget Our History
- Remembering The Warriors Of Kalabakan in Tawau
- Kain Tenunan, Songket & Rattan
- CAEXPO In Naning, Guangxi, China
- New Memorial Landmark For Our Warriors
- Selamat Menyambut Bulan Kemerdekaan
- What Is Left Of The Tawau Old Maternity Hospital
- Tawau History
- Batu Payung The Answer to Tawau History
- The Tomb Of Sharif Osman Need Conservation
- Visiting Anjung Sejarah In Kuala Lumpur
- We Could Still Carry On
- Courtesy Call To Its Patron And Advisor
- Keep Proper Records of Members
- PSM Cawangan Sabah Now Officially Linked To PSM HQ...
- Meeting With Director Of Economic Planning Unit Sa...
- They Still Smoke 'Kirai' In Sabah
- The Big Drum Called Sang Gendang
- Bajau Community At Kampong Darau Laut
- Persatuan Sejarah Malaysia Cawangan Sabah Constitu...
- Books As Souvenirs
- SIFE UMS Made History
- Finance Committee Meeting
- Progress We Have Made in August 2009
- Life Members, Institution Members And Students Mem...
- Fund Raising From Contributions
- Fund Raising in Q1 Of 2010
- Persatuan Sejarah Malaysia Cawangan Sabah History ...
- Committee Meeting Re-scheduled
- Constitution For Free
- SELAMAT BERPUASA
- After Hari Raya Meeting
- ▼ August (44)