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The contents of a leaflet announcing the Japanese surrender in 1945

After the Japanese surrender in August 1945, Royal Australian Air Force planes dropped leaflets all over Sarawak’s First Division.

According to The Sarawak Gazette, the leaflet was foolscap size (a bit longer than A4) with a broad orange border and it was only available in English.

The content of the leaflet was about what to expect or do when the Japanese surrendered their power after the end of the war.

These leaflets were dropped all over Kuching, Batu Kawah, Bau, Lundu, Serian and Simunjan.

Aboard HMAS Kapunda as the Japanese envoy’s interpreter reads the surrender terms to Major-General Yamamura, the Kuching Garrison Commander (right). Copyright expired-public domain.
Here is the text of of the leaflet:

To the people of the First and Second Division of Sarawak.

1.News of the Japanese surrender will already have reached you. In addition to the Australian troops who will be coming to remove the Japanese, three officers of the Sarawak government are coming to help you, they are Lieutenant Colonel W.P.N.L Ditmas, Lieutennat Colonel C.E. Gascoigne and Major G.T Myles. They belong to a military unit known as the British Borneo Civil Affairs Unit (BBCAU).

2.The following general instructions are issued for your help and guidance:

A)You are asked to conserve your stocks of food as carefully as possible and to continue planting food stuffs to your utmost ability, as shortage of shipping and food makes the supply problem difficult.


B)Persons living outside the Kuching Municipal Area are asked to stay where they are until called, this applies particularly to the Bau and Serian districts.


C)Looting or stealing of any property whatsoever is a very serious offence and is liable to severe punishment. This includes all Japanese owned property, also property taken from others by the Japanese but in the case of the latter, after investigation and in due course this property will be returned to the rightful owners.


D)In the event of the Japanese authorities relinquishing administrative control before the arrival of the Allied troops and until further orders are received from BBCAU, Native officers and other government servants at present in office should administer the areas under their control in accordance with the laws of Sarawak and of conditions existing in Sarawak immediately prior to the Japanese occupation in 1941. Their main duty is to ensure the protection of life and property. Ketua-ketua kampung and Kapitan-kapitan Cina and other chiefs will continue to exercise the powers they held prior to the Japanese occupation. Improper behavior during the period of enemy occupation will be investigated.

E)The native officer in-charge of Kuching district and the senior inspector in charge of Police in Kuching will report to BBCAU immediately on its arrival at Pending or Kuching.


F)It is possible that some stocks of food still exist in the First and Second divisions. All of these must be safeguarded and police guards put over the places in which they are stored. In cases of genuine need, issues of food may be made from any of such stores, but full details of total stocks, amounts of issues with names and dates must be recorded.


G)All government office buildings, including the Museum, the Power Station, Churches, the Mosque and Cinemas, and all stores of valuable commodities must be placed under Police guard to ensure their safety.


H)It should be be the immediate responsibility of all Native Officers assisted by their staffs to make reports on the availability of all food supplies and the location and quantity of all food in stores, and the condition and location of any former Government or Japanese vegetables gardens or rice plantations. These reports for the whole of the First and Second Divisions are to be handed to or sent to BBCAU as soon as possible after their arrival in Kuching. The Kuching Chinese Chamber of Commerce is requested to assist with this work.

Today, one can only imagine how Sarawakians felt when reading the leaflet, especially those who lived in fear during the Japanese occupation.

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Patricia Hului
Patricia Hului is a Kayan who wants to live in a world where you can eat whatever you want and not gain weight. She grew up in Bintulu, Sarawak and graduated from the University Malaysia Sabah with a degree in Marine Science. She worked for The Borneo Post SEEDS, which is now defunct. When she's not writing, you can find her in a studio taking belly dance classes, hiking up a hill or browsing through Pinterest. Follow her on Instagram at @patriciahului, Facebook at Patricia Hului at Kajomag.com or Twitter at @patriciahului.
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