A throwback to the times when Britannia did rule the waves. British North Borneo Chartered Company was the entity assigned to administer the territory of North Borneo in the days when colonialism was the buzzword and the byword. And this is where the story of the artillery guns begins.
In 1881 North Borneo, now Sabah, came under the protection of Great Brittania (British Empire) and officially became one of its protectorates. Sandakan was at that time the capital of North Borneo. This is the place- on the hill behind the town jail in Sim Sim Road- where two artillery guns were sited. They are believed to have been installed there in the early 1920′s for ceremonial purposes. And hence, the term saluting gun was coined.
In 1946, after World War II, saw the return of the North Borneo Chartered Company. But the chartered company was by then in financial ruin and was thus unable to continue to administer the territory. It was henceforth decided there & then that North Borneo would become a British Crown colony. By a stroke of magic, it was again decided in 1949 (there-ish, unconfirmed) that the capital should be shifted to Jesselton (now Kota Kinabalu). And here I am, now basking in the glory of being a citizen of the capital. Talk about fate! Sandakan(onians) must be chafed by that stroke of bad luck. Never mind, you’ve still got your orangutans to keep you company. And I really love your leafy town- one great feature of the town.
The two artillery guns are now placed in the premises of the Sabah Museum in Kota Kinabalu. I bet that would really get the Sandakanonians going again. Shifting (and name changing) is now the new buzzword.
As a footnote, the guns were manufactured in 1917- in the intervening period of WWI. North Borneo became an independent state in 1963 and was since renamed Sabah.