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Pledge on S'kan Memorial Park
Published on: Thursday, April 26, 2018

Sandakan: Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman assured that Sabah will continue to maintain the Sandakan Memorial Park (SMP) at Taman Rimba, off Mile 7, Jalan Utara, here. He said this would enable those who visit the site, where the former prisoners of war (POWs) camp was located, to understand the price of freedom for which our people fought and suffered.

"Although over six decades have passed, we will not forget the impact of occupation and war on our people, and time will never diminish what happened here at Sandakan, on the Death Marches to Ranau," he said during an Anzac Day event held at SMP early Wednesday. His speech was delivered by Sandakan Municipal Council President Datuk James Wong.

The group of prisoners who arrived here some 60 years ago quickly learned the brutality of their situation.

In the so-called "welcoming address" given by the commandant of the Sandakan POWs camp, they were told "you will work until your bones rot under the tropical sun of Borneo."

"Our people and the men of Britain and Australia endured years of uncertainty, brutality and deprivation, the people of Sabah endured violence and fear while the notorious Kempei-tai - the military police of the Japanese Imperial Army - was feared," he said.

"In acts big and small, some were able to resist their oppressors despite the consequences of doing so.

The Kinabalu uprising was one of resistance," he added.

In October 1943, a diverse ethnic group compromising hundreds of people stormed Japanese facilities in Api Api and set warehouses alight. They ruled Api Api for a day before dispersing to nearby mountains.

The people from Api Api and surrounding areas suffered a brutal retaliation, many members of the Kinabalu Guerrila Force were found, or surrendered to stem further reprisals, and were executed.

An estimated 4,000 people were killed in the Japamese reprisals.

Those who perished here in Malaysia lie in cemeteries or are named on memorials in Labuan, Taiping, Terendak and Kuala Lumpur, respectively, and it is the privilege of the people of Malaysia to care for them in perpetuity.

Also present were representatives from both the British and Australian family members and local uniform groups, including the Royal Malaysian Arm Forces. - SC Tam


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