In 1882, the British North Borneo Chartered Company (BNBC) established its first settlement on Gaya Island (which is now one of the five islands forming the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park) which was then already inhabited by the Bajaus.
In 1897, the settlement on Gaya was destroyed by the Bajau hero Mat Salleh. In the following year, the British North Borneo Company moved over to mainland Borneo and to the fishing village Api-Api. Development in the area started soon after that; and the place was renamed Jesselton, after the Vice-Chairman of the Company in London, Sir Charles Jessel. It soon became a major trading port in the area, and was connected to Beaufort, Tenom and Weston by the North Borneo Railway.
It is indeed puzzling that a trading post in the Far East was named after someone who had never set foot on this beautiful country.
So it is indeed meaningful that the book about Jesselton to be launched today is written by George Jessel, the great-grandson of Sir Charles who first visited KK in 2011. George served as the High Sheriff of Kent from 2017 to 2018 and heads the police and military and crimes in the county of 1.6 million people. His great-grandfather, Sir Charles and his grandfather Sir George were also High Sheriff, in 1903 and 1958, respectively. You may like to know that the tradition of High Sheriff had been nearly 1,000 years old in England when th first High Sheriff of Kent was appointed 995 years ago. It si interesting that one could serve only one term and no more.
On 9 January, 1942, Jesselton wsa captured by teh Japanese who reinstated the name Api, which is still popularly used to refer to the city, especially by the Chinese.
In 1968, Jesselton was renamed Ktoa Kinabalu after the iconoic Mt Kinabalu and on 2 February 2000, Kota Kinabalu received its official city states from the Malaysian government and Datuk Adbul Ghani Rashid was appointed the first mayor. Pesently, Kota Kinabalu is served by Datuk Yeo Boon Hai who is the 4th mayor of the city.
Datuk C.L. Chan @ the launch of Finding Jesselton held at the Keembong Room, The Hyatt Regency.