Beaufort is a nice provincial town on the western side Borneo in what is now Sabah, Malaysia. In 1912 it was part of British North Borneo, and in that year the chief police officer in Beaufort wrote a letter to the American consul in Sandakan, on the eastern side of the island to recommend his clerk, Henry Chong, for a job as a clerk at the consulate.


The police chief’s letter basically reads like a c.v. for Henry Chong, and it is a fascinating c.v. indeed. This is how the police chief described Henry’s qualifications:

Age 21 years.

Speaks Four dialects of Chinese, also speaks Sulu, Tagalog, Spanish and Malay.

An excellent Typist.


Very hard working and strictly honest.

Born in Sandakan of Chinese parentage from Honolulu.

Mother and brothers are storekeepers in Jolo.

Educated in Zamboanga.

Henry Chong

I find it amazing to see the network of places that Henry was connected to – Beaufort, Sandakan, Honolulu, Jolo and Zamboanga – and the languages that he was reportedly familiar with.

Henry Chong was a very cosmopolitan young man. I wonder what became of him.