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In December 1877 the Sultan of Brunei relinquished his claims of ownership of North Borneo to an Austrian diplomat named Baron Von Overbeck and an English businessman named Alfred Dent. Barely a month later, in January 1878, the Sultan of Sulu also relinquishes his claims of ownership of North Borneo Sabah to Dent and Overbeck. The confusion over the contents of the agreements and use of one specific word contained in the agreements of “cessation” of North Borneo signed 142 years ago has in turn led to a great misunderstanding over claims of “lease” by the heirs of one Sultanate. In order to understand the context of the agreements signed, there is a need to understand the reasons why both Sultanates decided cessation was the only way to save their individual kingdoms from total collapse in 1877 and 1878. With access to the original documents of cessation signed in 1877 and 1878 in the London Archives, Avtar Singh will share his observations and provide a clear explanation why there exists such confusion and misconceptions relating to ownership over North Borneo.

Avtar Singh Sandhu, 17/9/1972
Born: Queen Elizabeth Hospital
Status: semi-retired/Private researcher & writer

Current Work: Private Researcher & historian on World War Two specifically Battle of Midway, Indian Legion 950 & Battle of Kursk (Northern Front).

Books Published:

-My Enemy is my Enemy: The Indian Legion & The Waffen-SS (2017)

-Tiger Legion 950 (Indische) (to be released 15th December 2020)

-Beast of the East: Ferdinand Tank Destroyer at the Battle of Kursk (to be released January 2021)

-The Battle of Midway: A 3 volume series (to be released February 2021)


-Primary Education: St Anne’s, Labuan

-Secondary Education: United World College of South East Asia, Singapore

Pre-University: Canning College, Perth

Oxford University Certificate: World War One Perspectives

Area of Job Training:

Outdoor Leadership & Outdoor First Responder

Outdoor Leadership Training:

-Swift Water Rescuer Level 2-1995
-Bronze Medallion Life Saving 1989
-Wilderness Outdoor First Responder-1995
-Open Water Diver-1989
-Stress & Rescue Diver (SSI)-2002-present

Pioneer of the Sport of Ultra Trail Marathon Endurance Races in Malaysia 2010.

Race Director & Founder of:

-TMBT Ultra Trail Marathon 2011-2017
-BUTM Ultra Trail Marathon 2014-2017
-Beaufort 60k Ultra Marathon 2012-present
-Labuan Ultra Marathon 2019-present
-Borneo 250k Death March Ultra Marathon 2012-present

Race Director of:

-Sabah Adventure Challenge 2004-2016

-Writer of code of ethics & safety standards for adventure racing in Malaysia 2004

-Writer of the code of ethics & safety standards of ultra trail running in Malaysia 2010

-Co-writer of Ethics & Safety Standards for Sabah Trail Running Associations

Managing Director:

Sabah Adventure Challenge 2004-2016

Avta Sports Sdn Bhd