LABUAN: The Surrender Point memorial monument was re-launched on Saturday at Kampung Layang-Layangan here after its renovation works that started in July was completed.
Australian War Office director Brigadier Chris Appleton who co-officiated the monument together with Senator Datuk Yunus Kurus, said the monument served as a reminder of the end of war 66 years ago.
“This monument is a reminder for us where World War II (WWII) came to an end, and to commemorate the services and sacrifices of soldiers who were from several nationalities who brought the war to its closing.
“I still remember my father who was a teenager during the war, bringing supplies from Australia to Victoria Harbour in Labuan, telling me how the people of Sabah and Labuan suffered severely because of the Japanese army. The locals were forced into hard labour,” he said.
He added that servicemen, including the people of Borneo and locals who were captured as prisoners of wars (POWs), were executed, while others simply disappeared.
“It is hard to comprehend such matters as we enjoy the comforts of living today.
“There were good Samaritans among the people of Borneo who helped the Resistance against the Japanese, including a story of an Australian soldier who was hidden by a local man when the soldiers were forced to march from Ranau to Sandakan.
“We should never forget the darkest hours while we do everything to sustain our freedom.
“We should never forget it and that is why we are here today to commemorate our grandfathers who gave us the future where they themselves lost theirs,” he said yesterday.
The renovation project was undertaken and funded by the office of the Australian War Graves, Canberra, Australia.
The surrender point is the site where the 37th Japanese Southern Army surrendered to the Australian Imperial Forces 9th Division on September 9, 1945, which led to the end of WWII in Borneo.
Also present at the ceremony were the deputy high commissioner of the British High Commission, Ray Kyles, Australian High Commission (Defence Advisor) Colonel Stephen Tulley, Senator Datuk Yunus Kurus and the chief executive officer of Labuan Corporation, Zainul Abidin Abdullah.
Meanwhile, war veterans and their families yesterday paid respect to Allied soldiers who perished in Borneo during World War II.
The Remembrance Day is held annually at Labuan War Memorial where the remains of 3,908 troops and prisoners of war from battlefields all over Borneo were buried.
The fallen soldiers were from Australia, Great Britain, India, New Zealand and Malaysia.
The two-hour solemn ceremony included the reading of the ode of remembrance, playing of the last post, two-minute silence, lament, rouse and wreath laying.
There were also prayers by Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs at their respective corners.
Among the foreign dignitaries who attended the event were Kyles, Tulley and Australian War Graves Office director Brigadier Chris Appleton.
The local dignitaries present were Department of Veterans’ Affairs director general Major General Dato’ Zulkiflee Mazlan, Yunus and Zainul.