Former British army colonel shares insight on S’wak border conflicts, now calls it home

Retired British Army Colonel Kim Hoskin gave a talk entitled 'Conflict in Sarawak’s Borderlands 1942-1945 and 1963-66 at the Borneo Culture Museum on May 12, 2024.

By Wilfred Pilo

KUCHING, May 12: Retired British Army Colonel Kim Hoskin reminisces his arrival in Sarawak during the Malaysia-Indonesia Confrontation, recalling his first military assignment in Ba’kelalan at age 22 in 1964.

Although he has called Ba’kelalan home for the past 12 years, the octogenarian shared that when he first arrived, he considered himself a very young and naive English military officer.


Hoskin added that upon his arrival in Sarawak at the tri-border area of Malaysia-Brunei-Indonesia in early 1964 as a young officer in the 2nd Battalion of the Gurkha Rifles during the Malaysia (Sarawak)-Indonesia Confrontation, he had no guidance or knowledge of the country and its local people.

He explained that upon his transfer to the Border Scouts in Sarawak’s Fifth Division, he felt he fit in well. However, as a young officer, he was uncertain if he was truly welcomed among the local recruits.

Prior to his arrival, Hoskin knew of Sarawak as he have learned about it (Sarawak) in school.

“We know (of) the Iban people and their renowned head-hunting skills and their life from our studies but never the local people of Sarawak and from the area I was posted.

“When in Ba’kelalan and with my Border Scout personnels, I did not know about my acceptance as military personnel but I believed the friendship and trust with the locals did grow over the period. The friendship that lasts until today,” he said when met by reporters after his talk entitled ‘Conflict in Sarawak’s Borderlands 1942-1945 and 1963-66’ at the Borneo Cultures Museum today.

Hoskin further recalled that despite the height of the confrontation between Sarawak and Indonesia, it was his first military operation in the region, and he felt no fear at all.

“I was just doing my job. There was no hostility at all among the local and the Border Scouts personnel but it (hostility) was obvious from the Indonesians,” Hoskin said.

After serving for three years in Ba’kelalan, he later joined the New Zealand Army in 1967 and was posted to Vietnam.

Hoskin had a total of 25 years in military service in New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, Fiji, Hawaii, and elsewhere, primarily focusing on intelligence, planning, and simulation design.

“After leaving the army I became a defence, security, and risk management consultant,” he said.

He now resides in Ba’kelalan and is married to a Lun Bawang woman, who is the daughter of a former Border Scout personnel that served alongside his unit.

“I am living happily with my in-laws family in Ba’kelalan, a place I call home and (I am) writing my second book,” he added.

During the talk, Hoskin highlighted that he had written a book about the period of conflict and also his time in the Vietnam War in his memoir ‘In Plain View: Borneo to Vietnam and Thereafter’ which was published in New Zealand back in 2020.

“The focus of the talk was the involvement of the inhabitants of the northeastern area of Sarawak – the tri-border area – during the Japanese Occupation and the Confrontation conflicts and some of the events that occurred there.

“While the story of the Borneo Interior Force of 1945 can only be told indirectly, (that of) the Border Scouts and others involved in Confrontation in Sarawak can be related from my personal experience,” he said.

Also present was the Friend of Sarawak Museum (FoSM) chairperson Dato Ose Murang. —DayakDaily