As a young Royal Artillery Lieutenant the author was flown into Sarawak as part of the small group entitled "British Military Administration" with the daunting task of
trying to put British Borneo together again after the devastation left by the Japanese.
This book is, in his own words, a personal story from those early days to his eventual
position as Sabah's State Secretary to the Chief Minister in the post-colonial
And a thundering good read it is too. Many who have worked in Sabah will recognise
the author's direct and honest style: pithy, witty, and refreshingly clear of humbug. He
lucidly outlines the problems of those early post-1945 days; a demoralised and
undernourished population, a wrecked infrastructure, and the twice daily Morse code
schedules which were the only means of communication between districts and the
The nature of that early work is graphically illustrated with extracts from his diaries,
where a gift for vivid descriptive touches is evident.
A chapter Serving Soldier to Obedient Servant takes a tongue-in-cheek view of the
protocol which arrived with the change from military to colonial rule, which he was well
placed to appreciate as the Governor's Private Secretary. Later chapters describe his
various postings which included Resident Interior. His enjoyment of the people he
worked with is very evident, and there are again humorous touches which keep the
reader turning the pages, none more so than when he is outwitted by Arusap, the Chief of
the Bokan Muruts.
Anyone who has had any contact with the Colonial Service will enjoy his chapter
Governors, but perhaps the piece de resistance is his fascinating account of the early
days of post-colonial Sabah. He was in a unique position as an expatriate here, as
Sabah's State Secretary to the Chief Minister. Those turbulent times are outlined with
clarity and objectivity and ended with his own resignation. This account fills a huge gap
in the history of Sabah which has been rumoured over for too long. With this chapter it is
quite clear now to see what actually happened, and any reader with an interest in Sabah,
or the transition from colonial to independent rule will appreciate the author's honesty
The book is not just compulsory reading for those who have worked in Sabah or
Sarawak. It will appeal to the wider traveller who will recognise the enormous changes
which have taken place in this fascinating corner of the world. This book achieves the
description of those changes with a deft, wry, and lucid touch.