Lahad Datu

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Lahad Datu
District and Town
A view of Lahad Datu town.
A view of Lahad Datu town.
Location of Lahad Datu
Lahad Datu is located in Borneo Topography
Lahad Datu
Lahad Datu
Coordinates: 5°1′48″N 118°20′24″E / 5.03000°N 118.34000°E / 5.03000; 118.34000
Country  Malaysia
State  Sabah
Division Tawau
 • Body Lahad Datu District Council
 • District Officer Iman Ali
 • Land 6,501 km2 (2,510 sq mi)
Population (2010)
 • Total 199,830
Time zone Malaysian Standard Time (UTC+8)
Area code(s) 089

Lahad Datu is a town and district located in Tawau Division, in the east of Sabah, Malaysia on the island of Borneo. It occupies the peninsula on the north side of Darvel Bay. Its population was estimated to be around 199,830 in 2010.[1] Lahad Datu is surrounded by stretches of cocoa and oil palm plantations. It is also an important timber exporting port. The town has an airport for domestic flights.


Tobacco Estate in Lahad Datu during the British period.

A settlement is believed to have existed here in the 15th century, as excavations have unearthed Ming dynasty Chinese ceramics.[citation needed] Just east of Lahad Datu is the village of Tunku, a notorious base for pirates and slave traders in the 19th century.[2]

Based on a jawi manuscript in the Idahan language dated 1408 A.D, it is believed that Islam was first introduced to Malaysia in Sabah. The jawi manuscript gives an account of an Ida'an man named Abdullah in Darvel Bay who embraced Islam.[citation needed]

Filipino intrusion[edit]

On 23 September 1985, 15-20 armed foreign pirates landed on this town, killing at least 21 people and injuring 11 others.[3][4]

On 11 February 2013, several armed Filipino supporters of the Sultanate of Sulu, calling themselves the Royal Security Forces of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo, arrived in Lahad Datu district and occupied the village of Tanduo. They were sent by Jamalul Kiram III, a claimant to the throne of the sultanate. His stated goal is to assert the Philippine territorial claim to eastern Sabah as part of the North Borneo dispute.[5][6][7] In response, Malaysian security forces surrounded the village.

After several negotiations with the group, and by the Philippine and Malaysian governments to reach a peaceful solution were unsuccessful, the standoff escalated into an armed conflict which ends with 56 followers of the self-proclaimed Sultanate dead and the others captured by the Malaysian authorities.[8][9][10] The Malaysian side also suffers 10 life lost because of the conflict with most of them are the security forces including other six civilians.[11][12][13]


A palm oil plantation in Lahad Datu, palm oil has become the main economic source for the town.
Lahad Datu Central Market.

Lahad Datu also has several palm oil refineries. The Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC) is located near the Lahad Datu Port and received its first vessel on 1 March 2013.[14] It consists of 1,150 acres (5 km2) of land developed (with a centralised bulking facility and a jetty, currently under construction, which will have a draft of 20 meters, making it one of the few deep sea ports in the world) specifically for palm oil downstream industries. To date, 18 companies have bought land in POIC with 8 companies involved in the production of palm biodiesel. POIC is a wholly state-owned company under the purview of the Ministry of Industrial Development. Its chairman is the current minister, Datuk Dr. Ewon Ebin and the chief executive officer is Mr.Wong Yu Chin (ASDK,BSK).


Lahad Datu is linked to other towns and districts via Federal Route 13, a part of larger Pan-Borneo Highway network in the east coast of Sabah. Works of constructing a new bypass road on Sandakan-Tawau route has been commenced on mid 2016, to relieve the traffic congestion on the town itself.

Lahad Datu is served by many different methods of transportation. Taxis, buses and minibuses are abundant and provide connectivity around the town and other districts such as Sandakan and Tawau. Lahad Datu Port is a container port administered by Sabah Port Sdn. Bhd.

MASwings, a regional airline and subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines (MAB) provides five direct flights daily to and from Kota Kinabalu, the state’s capital.


The district has several tourist attractions, including Danum Valley Conservation Area, Tabin Wildlife Reserve and the Madai Caves


  1. ^ "Total population by ethnic group, administrative district and state, Malaysia, 2010" (PDF). Department of Statistics, Malaysia. 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 February 2012. Retrieved 3 May 2014. 
  2. ^ Oxford Business Group. The Report: Sabah 2011. Oxford Business Group. pp. 12–. ISBN 978-1-907065-36-1. 
  3. ^ "Lahad Datu Recalls Its Blackest Monday". New Straits Times. 24 September 1987. Retrieved 30 October 2014. 
  4. ^ Masayuki Doi (30 October 1985). "Filipino pirates wreak havoc in a Malaysian island paradise". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 30 October 2014. 
  5. ^ "Heirs of Sultan of Sulu pursue Sabah claim on their own". Philippine Daily Inquirer. 16 February 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2013. 
  6. ^ Michael Lim Ubac; Dona Z. Pazzibugan (3 March 2013). "No surrender, we stay". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 3 March 2013. 
  7. ^ Jethro Mullen (15 February 2013). "Filipino group on Borneo claims to represent sultanate, Malaysia says". CNN. Retrieved 25 February 2013. 
  8. ^ M. Jegathesan (5 March 2013). "Malaysia attacks Filipinos to end Sabah siege". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 5 March 2013. 
  9. ^ "Lahad Datu: Malaysian security forces in all out attack against Sulu gunmen". The Star. 5 March 2013. Retrieved 5 March 2013. 
  10. ^ "Lahad Datu: Sabah CPO - No halt to Ops Daulat until Sulu terrorists are flushed out". The Star. 30 March 2013. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  11. ^ "Kronologi pencerobohon Lahad Datu" (in Malay). Astro Awani. 15 February 2014. Retrieved 27 February 2014. 
  12. ^ "Dakwaan anggota tentera terbunuh hanya taktik musuh - Panglima Tentera Darat" (in Malay). Astro Awani. 12 August 2013. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  13. ^ Najiah Najib (30 December 2013). "Lahad Datu invasion: A painful memory of 2013". Astro Awani. Retrieved 30 December 2013. 
  14. ^ "Maiden Voyage into POIC Port" (PDF). POIC Sabah Sdn. Bhd. 11 March 2013. Retrieved 14 March 2013. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 5°1′48″N 118°20′24″E / 5.03000°N 118.34000°E / 5.03000; 118.34000