A Centennial Celebration – Sabah Tourism Board Heritage Building


On March 16, 2018, the Sabah Tourism Board, DBKK and PAM Sabah Chapter has jointly organised a centennial celebration for this auspicious occasion. The celebrations will start in the evening at 5:00 pm at Gaya Street in front of the building with Food, Handricrafts and Buskers perfomances. The Guest of Honour, Yang Berhormat Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Sabah will officiate the opening ceremony together with Ar. Rizal Ahmad Banjar, Deputy Chairman of PAM Sabah Chapter. The ceremony will end at 8:00 PM.


The date March 16, 2018 marks the 100 years old celebration of the one of the oldest buildings in Kota Kinabalu, formally known as Jesselton. The Sabah Tourism Board’s building was one of the few structures that were fortunate enough not to be destroyed during the Second World War by the Allied bombing in Jesselton. It is now one of only three buildings in Kota Kinabalu gazetted for conservation and heritage.  On March 16, 2011, the Kilometre Zero or KM0 was set and planted by the Royal Institute of Surveyors, Sabah in front of the building, to mark it as the starting measuring point of all the places in Sabah.

Old post office building art piece by Ramiliano Guerra available at: https://fineartamerica.com/featured/old-post-office-ramiliano-guerra.html 

The other two buildings are the Atkinson Clock Tower, the oldest standing structure in Kota Kinabalu (Built 1905 – 113 years old) and the Lands and Survey Department building (Built 1918 to 20s), which later became the Social Welfare Department that was destroyed by fire on the morning of December 31, 1992.

Government Printing Department Building (now Sabah Tourism Board buidling) at left and the Atkinson clock tower in the middle in early 1900s at Jesselton

It is hard to imagine how this relatively small but historical clock tower, standing on its own on this hill could ever be any ship’s point of reference; after 113 years, the narrow strip of land in front of the tower has been extensively reclaimed, with tall commercial buildings blocking the views of the clock tower to the sea. But one has only to look at early photos of Jesselton township from its formation in the 1900s to present day to see how vital the clock tower was as a reference point – and still is – as a marker for the growth of this quaint former British Colony township known as ‘Jesselton’ into ‘Kota Kinabalu, a bustling modern Malaysian city that it is now.

The old Land and Survey Building and later welfare building which was destroyed by fire on the morning of December 31, 1992

The Atkinson Clock Tower in the early days with the railway tracks linking to Beaufort in the foreground

The Sabah Tourism Board building was first occupied in 1918 by the Government Printing Department when completed, but in 1936, it was renovated to house the treasury, audit office, a bank and the post office. During the Japanese Occupation (1942 to 1945), it was occupied by the Yokohama Specie Bank, Treasury and Posts.

The Japanese occupation period pic by North Borneo Philately

It underwent restoration in 1989 and opened on January 19, 1991, to house the Sabah Tourism Promotion Board, now the Sabah Tourism Board Office.

The building, which was originally designed and supervised by JW Norman, an executive engineer with the Public Works Department, featured a very formal axis with two arches at the front of its facade.  The building was made from block stones, a material which was different from the normal construction of the day – timber.

The building during its post office days. Photo by North Borneo Philately

It was described as “the best in Borneo” by the then Governor Aylmer Cavendish Pearson (1876 to 1926) during the opening ceremony in March 16, 1918 and thereafter, the first paper the Herald was printed in Jesselton.

The tombstone of Governor Pearson can still be seen at the old Anglican Church Cemetery in Kota Kinabalu till today.



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