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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pekan Papar, Sabah

Opppppssss.... Huruf 'N' nya teda suda!

Papar is a town as well as a district located in West Coast Division of Sabah, east Malaysia. Its population in the district was estimated to be around 105,200 in 2006, almost evenly divided between ethnic Kadazan (Limbahau, Kinarut, Kopimpinan, Lakut, Limputung), Dusun (Mondolipau, Koiduan, Ulu Kimanis, Sumbiling Bongawan) and Malay (Pengalat Besar, Pengalat Kecil). It is situated 38 kilometres south of Kota Kinabalu and is one of the stops on the North Borneo Railway line.

Papar means flat or open land, and the area is characterised by low lying coastal areas which extend inland towards the Crocker Range. Traditionally this was good rice growing land and the flat open padi fields may have given it the name.

The town is on the bank of the Papar River not far from the sea. There are also areas of tidal wetland that are home to mangrove trees and saltwater palm or nipah.

The town has seen considerable growth in recent years but still preserves some of its older buildings and features, such as the railway station and a large banyan tree. St Joseph's Secondary School stands opposite the station and behind the Catholic Church of St Joseph's. The old town is being renovated either by design or as the result of fires that have destroyed parts of the town.

Other older landmarks have been lost. The rubber plantations that existed on the northern bank of the river were cut down and replaced by the villages of Buang Sayang and Melugus along with a very large school complex.

Despite repair and refurbishment over the years, the Papar railway bridge looks much as it did in the Second World War. It featured in Allied plans to retake North Borneo from the Japanese. References to it and the Papar River can be found in reports on covert intelligence operations Agas and Semut, and later in attack plans Stallion and Oboe 6.

Source: "Monthly Statistical Bulletin, January 2007: Sabah", Department of Statistics Malaysia, Sabah.

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