LAHAD Datu is a district located on the eastern side of Sabah, just above Tawau and Semporna. It occupies about nine per cent of the state, and is a main producer of palm oil, cocoa and timber.
It was said that before 1879, many well-respected individuals known as Datu from the Sulu Sultanate migrated to the land, thus giving the name Lahad Datu which in the Bajau language means "land (lahad) of the celebrated, well-respected people (datu)".
The district's town, also called Lahad Datu, used to be known as a cowboy town for its lawless reputation.
Apart from a number of newly-built commercial buildings and housing areas, I believe the small town has not changed much since I left seven years ago for the big city.
Around the town, Filipinas can be seen selling cheap beauty care products in front of the shops while their children, probably around 11 or 12 years of age, roam the small town selling cigarettes and lighters.
At the market, there are Filipinos and Indonesians selling foodstuff among the locals.
Pakistani men, on the other hand, are still travelling from home to home in the villages selling carpets and rugs even though many of them now run carpets and furniture shops.
And when the authorities show up, it will be like Tom and Jerry playing hide and seek.
Immigrants, especially from the Philippines, Indonesia and Pakistan, are still large in numbers. Whether they came legally or illegally is a different matter.
Meanwhile, in the sea not far from the town's shores, there are still a small number from the Bajau Laut community known as the sea gypsies, living in their boats just like how their ancestors did eons ago.
Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: 'Cowboy town' of Borneo.