Published on: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Helen Yong, who flew from Canada to attend the memorial service for the war heroes and victims at the War Memorial Garden, here, said her grandfather, granduncle and an uncle all died in the genocide committed by Japanese soldiers at that time.
"My grandfather, Lim Thien Fong, my granduncle Lo Sin Fat and an uncle Lo Yet Fah were among civilians who were victims of the war.
"This is my first time attending this memorial service to remember those who lost their lives defending Sabah during the Japanese occupation," she said.
Helen attended the service together with her mother Mary Lim, her two sisters Lucy Yong, and Margaret Yong, and her husband.
They placed several bouquets at the monument as a mark of respect for those who died.
"I was made to understand they were starved for a week and then buried alive by the Japanese army. The Japanese Government has not apologised to us for such horrifying deaths that happened to innocent civilians who were not even in the guerilla force fighting them.
"The Japanese Government should own up to what their past soldiers did because it constitutes war crimes," she said, adding she would do thorough research before pursuing her intention.
Meanwhile, Lee Ming, 92, who stared for a long time at the plaques inscribed with the names of those who died, was among the survivors.
His third son, Sakuk Lee, 56, said his father was only 21 when he joined the Kinabalu guerillas and was only a private soldier where he killed many Japanese soldiers.
"My father never missed coming for this memorial service at the Petagas War Memorial Garden here and he would look at the plaques and talk about how he knew all of them and where they were from.
"What I know is that my father joined the guerillas when a friend encouraged him to join to fight the Japanese," he said.
Met after the service ended, Sakuk said his father was very ill when the Japanese soldiers detained him and subsequently, he was left behind as they thought he could not make it and die.
Instead, his father survived the ordeal. In the war, Sakuk said he remembered that his father told him how they (guerillas) robbed a bank at Api-Api centre at that time to use the money to buy firearms in order to fight the Japanese.