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From leper colony to refuge | The Malaysian Insight

From leper colony to refuge

5/17/2019

From leper colony to refuge

PULAU Berhala, a 5ha forested island off Sandakan bay, was meant to be developed as a tourist hot spot. \n\nIt has co...

It has come a long way from a leper colony and quarantine station for prisoners of war during the Japanese occupation in the 1940s.

About 20 years after these refugees settled there, many of them became Malaysians, allegedly from the citizenship-for-vote programme called ‘Projek IC’.

Today, 60% of the 3,400 of the island’s population are Malaysians, while the remaining 40% are IMM13 holders and the stateless.

It is a costly affair for those who miss the early morning boat ride.

Meanwhile, the children of migrants who are not allowed into government schools get their basic education from soldiers.

The jetty is among the plight faced by islanders, who are mostly Bajau and Suluk. With a population of 3,400, Pulau Berhala, in the Sandakan parliamentary constituency, also lacks electricity and clean water supply. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Irwan Majid, May 17, 2019.

Generators provide the sole electricity supply on Pulau Berhala, Sandakan. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Irwan Majid, May 17, 2019.

Schoolchildren heading back from Sandakan mainland. The fishermen are the main transport providers on Pulau Berhala. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Irwan Majid, May 17, 2019.

Villagers rely on well water on Pulau Berhala, Sandakan. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Irwan Majid, May 17, 2019.

Passengers from the island checking their smartphones while travelling to Sandakan mainland from Pulau Berhala. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Irwan Majid, May 17, 2019.

A composite portrait of stateless children and IMM13 card holders on Pulau Berhala, Sandakan. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Irwan Majid, May 17, 2019.

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