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Man recalls how father, brother perished in war
Published on: Tuesday, January 22, 2019
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Man recalls how father,  brother perished in war
KOTA KINABALU: Seventy five-year-old Abdul Rahim Nazal can still recall the time his father, Nazal, and elder brother, Kiamat, together with other close relatives followed their leader Panglima Alli Imam Abas Sani from Pulau Sulug, off here, to fight the Japanese invaders in 1942. 

 He was three when the Panglima, along with his father and brother, as well as his uncles and other relatives, were captured, tortured and killed by the Japanese army, leaving him to be cared by his sister and mother. 

 Abdul Rahim, now living in Sepanggar, said he, his sister and their mother, as well as those still remaining in the village on the island were sent to Kuala Kimanis after the killing. 

 Their mother passed away while in Kuala Kimanis, leaving him and his sister to stay with their auntie. Not long afterwards they returned to their village on Sulug only to find all houses there had been burned down by the Japanese.

 Hence, some of the Pulau Sulug villagers resettled at Tanjung Aru while the rest in Pulau Sepanggar, including him.     

 “I am the only one left, as my sister already passed away,” he said when met with relatives at the Petagas War Memorial, after the commemoration ceremony held for the war victims, Monday. 

Deputy Chief Minister cum Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Christina Liew, represented the Chief Minister in paying respects during the commemoration ceremony.  

“The names of my father and brother, as well as my grandfather Ulang, my father’s brothers Ongga, Sabdani, Mantuku, and a few of my other relatives, including the Panglima are on the memorial,” said Abdul Rahim, who never misses the once-yearly commemoration ceremony.

Together with him on Monday were the sons and daughters, grandchildren and great grandchildren of the Pulau Sulug freedom fighters including the Panglima. 

Abdul Rahim said he had mixed feelings whenever he was at the memorial – sad, proud, honoured, but also frustrated.    

“I am sad but proud that my father, brother, uncles, relatives and the Panglima were always remembered by the State leaders for the sacrifices they made for Sabah,” he said. 

 But sad that the younger generation seem to have forgotten and do not have such a strong patriotism. He said the young should also come here especially during the commemoration day not just to pay respect but so that they know about the freedom fighters and the sacrifices they made in defending the State.

“Come to the memorial, even if it is just once a year. Why our people, especially the young people, do not want to come to this place?” he asked, and suggested that schools should organise historical excursions to the site.

 Abdul Rahim is frustrated because it seems like the remaining close family members of the freedom fighters were also neglected. 

“It is disappointing because the close family members of those honoured at this memorial have been neglected. The Chief Minister should ask for any family members of those honoured at the memorial who are still alive to come and meet him.

 “We should be entitled to some form of compensation. Not monetary because it will not last long, but a piece of land for each family so we can plant vegetables and so on,” he said. 

 This was echoed by Kanchi Abdullah, 64, one of the Panglima’s grandsons, who was also present with his family members and relatives.   

 Kanchi, who is currently living at Kg Gaya, Pulau Gaya, said actually 31 of their family members were killed with the Panglima. 

“I am of the fourth generation of the Panglima and we are proud because every year the State Government held a commemoration ceremony for our freedom fighters here. We the grandchildren and great grandchildren are thankful that our great grandfathers who have fought for the State were remembered and honoured here,” he said. 

Kanchi and his family also never missed going to the annual commemoration ceremony, adding he also regularly bring his family members to the place during the weekends to introduce them to their great grandfathers whose name were immortalised at the monument. - Larry Ralon


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