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One of stolen plaques irreplaceable
Published on: Saturday, September 02, 2017
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Kota Kinabalu: One of the two bronze plaques at Labuan's Surrender Point that was stolen recently was a sculptured masterpiece showing the Australian 9th Division invasion landings at Tarakan, Balikpapan (both in Kalimantan) and Labuan in World War 2.The other plaque about the Japanese surrender was stolen for the second time.

"Both have been completely removed, leaving only the concrete base behind," war historian Lynette Silver told Daily Express.

Lynette believed the theft happened between Aug. 10 and Aug. 24 since they were still in place when she visited the site in early August. A police report was filed.

"The commemorative plaque can be replaced but the sculpture, I expect, is a one off," Lynette said.

The reason she fears it might be lost for good is that the sculpture is a shining cast bronze bas relief master piece which combines age old casting techniques with modern state of the art technology as an investment in permanent timeless memorial and probably hard to replicate.

"My groups were always very interested to see it, as it so clearly showed the landings and excellent text," she added .

"Everyone is shocked though the irony is crime rate in Labuan is very low," Lynette who suspected that it was the work of scrap metal thieves.

She said the Australian periodontist, Ross Bastian, who did the plaque also did 140 to the tune of A$700,000 (RM2m plus). About A$100,000 came from Bastian's own pocket while raising the rest to deliver his private mission.

The sculpture showed the relief of Borneo island cast in bronze was to commemorate Australians in battle in 20 countries.

In one interview, Bastian said: "I felt that rather than writing books putting bronze information around the world to mark significant events in Australian history was a very practical way of informing both our people and particularly people of foreign countries which Australia's role is their history."

Surrender point commemorates the surrender of the Japanese forces in British North Borneo of General Baba to General George Woolton of the 9th Division, according to Lynette.

Surrender was also site of trials for war crime in Southeast Asia. General baba was later hanged. - Kan Yaw Chong



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