The ‘Pirate Priest’ – A Reappraisal

The bulk of this journal comprise a miscellany of articles and essays based on recent dedicated research into Sabah’s still nebulous past. These articles are largely tributes and descriptive accounts covering the pre-colonial and colonial era before 1950 and are significant for their contribution in filling the still large gaps in Sabah’s historical record. The highlights of this journal would be the commemorations and tributes to the people and personalities who have in different ways enriched Sabah’s history.

The year 2005 is a landmark year for the Sabah Society for it embarked on perhaps its most ambitious project to date. To mark the 60thAnniversary of the infamous Sandakan-Ranau Death Marches in 1945 The Society organized a commemorative march which followed as close as possible along the original route taken by the ill-fated POWs. The march was specially organized to pay tribute to both the people of Sabah for their many personal sacrifices made during World War II and the POWs who died in the forced marches. A group of 34 people took part in the commemorative march which began in Sandakan on 16 August and ended in Ranau on 25 August, 2005. A plaque was placed at the Ranau memorial and a dedicated information leaflet by The Sabah Society to commemorate the event was distributed at the closing ceremony of the march. The leaflet contained little known information on many local unsung heroes who deserve mention, and for that reason it is reproduced in this journal.

The Sabah Museum also celebrated this year the centennial of the Atkinson Memorial Clock Tower, one of Kota Kinabalu’s few remaining historical monuments of any significance, with a revamp of its internal mechanisms and outward appearance. The history of this once definitive landmark is described in the commemorative article on the clock tower.

The reappraisal of the “Pirate Priest” reflects the painstaking research that has been carried out to vindicate this much maligned character of Sabah’s earlier pre-colonial history. The author’s chronological narrative and explanation of the character and fascinating circumstances of Don Cuarteron’s life succeeds in casting doubts on the spurious label for the priest.

This review is originally published in Sabah Society Journal vol.22 (2005): 37- 48

Click here to read full review.

Click here for more information on Crowned with the Stars: The Life and Times of Don Carlos Cuarteron