SANDAKAN: Over 200 Malaysians and Australians gathered at the Memorial Park here at 7am yesterday to mark the 11th Sandakan Day in commemoration of the World War Two prisoners.
The Sandakan Day is held annually on August 15 at the original Sandakan World War Two Pprisoners’ camp site, which is now known as the Sandakan Memorial Park, in honour and remembrance of the 2,434 Australian and British prisoners as well as locals who helped them.
Each year, the families of fallen the heroes travel to this park to observe and participate in the memorial service.
Sixty-eight years after the end of World War Two, this year’s Sandakan Day memorial service was attended by relatives of the veterans, local community groups, and local and foreign dignitaries.
Also present were the State Minister of Special Task Datuk Teo Chee Kang, the Australian High Commissioner Miles Kupa, President of the Sandakan Municipal Council Datuk Ir James Wong and the Deputy British High Commissioner to Malaysia Ray Kyles.
During the memorial service, Kupa said he was pleased to see the growing numbers of Australians and Malaysians at the ceremony each year.
“It is in recognition of the growing consciousness of Sandakan as an important but long neglected chapter in our military and national history,” he said.
Kupa also pointed out that Sandakan has begun a remarkable history of military links between Australia and Malaysia, which were cemented on the battlefields of World War Two, the Malayan Emergency and the Confrontation in 1962.
“We pledge that the sacrifices of the men who served in Sandakan will always be remembered and honoured,” he added.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Haji Aman, who was represented by Teo, said “we cannot take peace and sovereignty for granted, and that we need to be always on guard”.
“We must never forget those who came before us and who fought hard to achieve peace and independence. I wish to encourage the younger generation to understand and appreciate our road to independence,” he added.