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PULAU BERHALA

Berhala Island (Pulau Berhala in Malay) is a small wooded island located in Sandakan Bay near the city of Sandakan. It is only 15 minutes (8 km) by boat from the quay (fish market) in Sandakan.
The most striking feature on the island are the awe-inspiring twilight set of cliffs that rise vertically from the water. The island is approximately 5 hectares and in the western part is a water village with a mosque and many houses on peel. The wooded island is blessed with fine white sand and clear water. The island can become an important tourist destination. The cliff offers great potential for a challenge.

There are many birds of prey on and around Berhala, including the Brahman kite, snake eagles and bald eagles. The particularity does not stop here, in addition to enjoying the clean and natural beaches, there is a diversity of coral reefs and underwater life around the island. If you want to go snorkeling or diving, you can find the best places near the island.
Swimming, snorkeling, sightseeing, jungle trekking and even rock climbing are some of the activities you can do when you visit this wooded island.
The island has a lighthouse at its highest point.
There is an army camp at the jetty on the island. The friendly locals hardly speak English. Villagers depend on spring water and generators. When you visit the island, find Mr Lad (he runs a small stall near the army camp called "Kedai Bara-Bara". He can speak English (Basic) He learned wonderful English by watching TV and reading the newspaper . You will be amazed !!
 

In the period before World War II, the island was used as a quarantine camp for workers from China and the Philippines and it was also the home of a leper colony.
During the war against the Japanese, internees (detained civilians), including Agnes Newton Keith and her husband Harry Keith, were detained in the quarantine station, which served as a temporary internment camp, before being transferred to the Batu Lintang camp in Kuching, Sarawak.
After the civilians had left, prisoners of war were interned in the camp. A daring escape occurred from the island of Berhala in June 1943, when several prisoners of war who had to be transferred to a prisoner of war near Sandakan managed to escape to Tawi-Tawi in the Philippines.

In the 1970s, the camp's facilities were used as an immigration detention camp, where refugees - mostly Bajau people - were housed for the armed conflict between the Philippine army and the Moro National Liberation Front.
Now that the camp is no longer there, the Bajau people have stayed on the island. Most of them are "stateless" and their movements are limited to Pulau Berhala. In the 1970s, the camp's facilities were used as an immigration detention camp, where refugees - mostly Bajau people - were housed for the armed conflict between the Philippine army and the Moro National Liberation Front.

Agnes Keith was an American author who was best known for her 3 autobiographical books that related her stories of life in a place that was simply called "North Borneo" ... present-day Sabah.
One of these books, called 'Three Came Home', was filmed in 1950. Produced by 20th Century-Fox and directed by Jean Negulesco. The movie was greeted by a New York Times as "shocking! Disturbing ... will tear your heart ... but it will completely fill you with a great respect for a heroic soul!".


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