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India Swa Lakh Sikh In Bloody Soemporna Stands Hero!

Chaan Pardesi

Oct 4, 2008
London & Kuala Lumpur
Royal Malaysia Police (Royal Malaysia Police) -


29 April, 1954, was the most unluckiest day for the people of
Semporna, near Lahad Datu in east Malaysia.It was a day most
wretchedly remembered for the inhabitants of this small town, as many
sacrificed their lives and property. Some even had their honour
violated, and were raped.

The bad memories of that fateful day still remain in the local
population, who witnessed the bloody consequences of violent acts by
the -mundu mundu (the pirates) who came out of nowhere and attacked the
sleepy laid back town. Semporna ,is located on the coast, was always,
peaceful and harmonious and very laid back sleepy community.As usual
that fateful day, there was an atmosphere of calm and comfort
blowing in from the deep blue sea.

The soccer field was located close to Semporna police station had been
occupied by
the football fans/players alike , as like every other evening. The
players had much fun playing football on the field. Several policemen
were also
playing and sweating away, fostering strong relationships with
the local community.

Semporna police station located under the Control of Police District
(OCPD) Lahad Datu had seven officers staioned there.The Chief of Police
Station (OCS) - was a tough and strict looking Sergeant, Sagar Singh.
Communication between Semporna police station with their headquarters
in Lahad Datu district were only through the wireless radio.The only
other route through the sea took about 10 hours.

The bloody events of that fateful are still fresh in the memory of Mr.
Bullah Ganggal, a former police officer who recently retired with the
rank of Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP). En.Bullah, a Kadazan
by descent, was on duty during the incident at the police station with
another officer.

He says "Everything begins at 5.30 pm. At that time the residents of
Semporna are resting after returning from fishing. "En.Bullah Ganggal
began his story.

"The young men were enjoying playing football. Suddenly the sound of
a ceaseless barrage of fire came from the jetty which is not far from
the police station and the football field, "he said.

"People in the town and in the field, started running helter skelter,
seeking shelter and were shouting mundu! mundu! (Lanun! Pirates!)The
people started fleeing seeking shelter here and there.

"Looking at the confusion and surprise pirate attack, Sergeant Sagar
Singh immediately ordered his men to get ready. He ordered me to take
all the wives and children of the police personnel in the small
baracks and take refuge in Semporna police station. The station was
more secure because of the barbed-wire fences and all firearms and
ammunition were there too. ".

L / Cpl Bullah Ganggal quickly shouted calling out to the police
families and children to accompany him to the police station.

"Even before the families could reach the station, I saw the hole
amid our barracks, the greatest number of pirates more than 50 to 70
people had come close to the police station. They split into two
groups. One group marched towards the police station and another group
went towards the forest department. "

Meanwhile, at the police station, Sergeant Sagar Singh, assisted by
ssome of his me,PC 422-Solomon and PC Jambuan started firing towards
the pirates. Sergeant Sagar Singh and his men were determined to
repulse the attack by the pirates.

The station was defended ferociously by Sergeant SAGAR SINGH and his
fire.However, the pirates destroyed the wireless communications
system/devices in place just outside the police station. Thus the
communication with the Headquarters at Lahad Datu was lost. Help could
not be summoned, nor alerted about the attack on the Semporna Police

"We must defend this station to the last drop of blood. Let each bullet
hit the target and waste not "said Sagar Singh fearlessly to his men
with enthusiasm. They continued to fight bravely, ensuring they
maintained a poweful line of fire, despite being outnumbered heavily.

En.Bullah Ganggal assigned to protect the wives and children of the
police could not do anything because he had no weapons. If he came out
without a weapon, he would be shot at once by the pirates.PC Jambuan
run out of ammunition and was stabbed with a machete by the pirates.
He was brutally murdered.

Many of the pirates were armed with automatic weapons, Sergeant Sagar
Singh and his officers were running out of ammunition, but kept
constant barrage of fire at the priates, were eventually were killed. L
/ Cpl Bullah Ganggal tried to come out of hiding place to provide
assistance but was ordered limited by Sarjent Sagar Singh to portect
and guard the police families, and not come to their own assistance.

Evenually, the pirates automatic fire hit Sgt Sagar Singh,and he
died. His men had already been hit and perished. The pirates then
entered the police station. The Police radio room was damaged the
equipment destroyed. They also break nto the ammo room and stole
firearms and ammunition past.

Pirates remaine dthere commiting brutal crimes. They were shooing
their firearms to and fro. They continued to search around the houses
and shops in the town.

Holed up in the stilness of the police barracks, I heard the cries
and screams for help by victims of the evil pirates. They not only
robbed, taking whatever valuables, food, they were also raped women and
young girls. They were cruel and torturous. ", says En.Bullah with a
feeling of great very exasperation.

I was not armed and was thinking of families and children and the
safety. I really regret That I was not able to help my friends who wre
killed as grt warriorers.

"The damned pirates remined for 3 hours ie from 5.30 to 8.30 pm in the
town of Semporna, committing heinious crimes and sinning against
innocent people, which cannot be forgiven, "he explains further.

According En.Bullah, he did not know where the pirates came from,
but thinks that they could be from Southern Phillipines due to their

For 3 hours Semporna became a hell hole.. The pirates acted grossly
arbitrarily because after the death of the Police officers like Sagar
Singh no one dared to resist. Having satisfied their evil intents and
desires , they quickly disappeared into the vast ocean with the boats
with great haste.

"When the pirates had gone, the families and children of the police
personnel came out of the hiding place in the police barracks. I was
deva sted and sad seeing my friends, Sgt Sagar Singh , Pc Jambuan ,
and PC Gimun killed. Their blood-soaked corpse were mourned by the
children and wives. I was in tears seeing the event. To this day it
remains in my memory, "

L / Cpl Bullah immediately took over as the Head of the Police
Station. He found that two of his officers are still alive. They were
playing ball when the pirates attacked. But as I ran to the station,
they had to hid along with other people.

After managing bodies of his four offices L / Cpl Bullah discussed
with the Native Chief (Headman) Semporna, Chief Jakarullah who had
arrived at the station with some of his men.

With their help, he made the rounds around town Semporna to collect
corpses and aid to people injured by pirates' atrocities.They aalso
found the bodies of a British forest officer, a Chinese shopkeeper
(tailor) and a young Bajau Semonul., along with other countless bodies.
The bodies were brought to the police station to be dealt with.

He then talked with the headman Jakarullah and they decided to send
two members of the public to Lahad Datu hospital for treatment. In
addition, they immediately sought help from KPD Lahad Datu and advised
not be contacted by wireless radio.They sent a messenger to Lahad Datu
Police Headquarters.

That night, L / Cpl, Bullah and Chief Jakarullan and his men stayed
awake and alert in case the pirates returned again.
The next afternoon, 30th, March 1954, an entourage headed by District
Officer Lahad Datu, Mr.Dalimore and Chief of Police District (OCPD),
Mr.WRH Roberts arrived to witness the almost deserted Semporna town,
whwich appeared to have become a wild deathbed.

The horrific events frightened the residents of Semporna. Some of
those who fled to hide did not return home for many days, in case the
pirates return to terrorize again. A civil servant who worked in
Semporna, when the incident took place was so terrified that he began
to 'stutter' and he stuters to this day unduly when surprised, sees a
weapon and becomes fearful.The heros of the day, Sargent Sagar Singh
and his officers who
saved all the families of the police are held with high regard to this
day among us.Sargent Sagar Singh's statue stands to this day in the town centre near the coast in Semporna.

Source: News Bukit Aman, 1983.

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