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Aussie Minister, MPs complete walk
Published on: Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ranau: Australian Defence Minister (Material) Jason Clare, Independent MP and "king-maker" in recent Australian politics, Robert Oakeshott, planted a tree each at the Last Camp, Saturday, to mark the completion of their five-day Death March walk.A total of 1,787 Australian and 641 British prisoners of war died. Only six Australians escaped and survived.

Clare was the first full Australian Defence Minister to ever retrace Sabah's Death March trail.

But, significantly, the Death March is intimately related to Independent MP Robert Oakeshott, who gained world fame for his "king-maker' role in the recent Australian hung Parliament, because his grand father, Captain Dr John Oakeshott, was one of five Officers and 10 ordinary soldiers who survived beyond Japan's surrender but was unfortunately executed on August 27, 1945, at the Last Camp, at Kg Kenepir, 5km south of Ranau town.

Joined by Liberal MP Scott Morrison - Shadow Minister for Immigration and a group of 12 students from nine schools in New South Wales, the high profile politicians walked 90km through tough and humid jungle sections of the 1945 Death March trail between Bauto to Gambaron, Maliau to Koporon, Taviu to Liwagu, Nabutan to Muruk to Marakau, although the full length of the Death March trail from Sandakan to Ranau is 265km.

The walk culminated in a profile service at the Church Campsite, Ranau, followed by a visit to the Last Camp Memorial where Robert Oakeshott paid tributes to his grandfather, Captain Dr John Oakshott.

They later visited the Ranau War Memorial, Kundasang, for their last ceremony, officiated by historian, Lynette Silver, who was their interpreter throughout while Tham Yau Kong and his pack of 10 guides provided the support.

In addition, a three-member Channel 9 television crew also joined them to cover the event.

Clare said politicians do lots of things not knowing which makes a difference but expressed his wish that their three-some efforts across the political divide will make a real difference in attracting more Australians to come to Sabah to do the same.

Sabah Tourism Board, represented by its Chairman, Tengku Datuk Dr Zainal Adlin, feted the group to a farewell dinner at Perkasa Hotel Saturday night.

Clare, Oaheshott, Morrison and the students flew back to Australia Saturday via Singapore.



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