SANDAKAN: Australia hailed the lasting bond forged with Malaysia during the Sandakan Death March of World War Two and said the link that had strengthened over the years was demonstrated in the joint search for a Malaysian commercial aircraft that went missing in March.
Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia Rod Smith hailed Sandakan as an important chapter in the history of military links between Australia and Malaysia.
He said the links forged on the battlefields during World War Two strengthened through the Emergency and Confrontation in Malaysia, and had continued to today.
Malaysian and Australian defence forces were working shoulder to shoulder even now in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which went missing on March 8 enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
“Today, Australia and Sabah’s close bond extends to education, tourism, trade and investment. These bonds between our peoples and nations will forever be strengthened by our shared past,” he said when speaking at the Sandakan Memorial Day here.
The annual event is held to remember the more than 2,400 Australian and British prisoners-of-war who lost their lives while incarcerated at the Sandakan Camp and during the death marches to Ranau in central Sabah.
Smith said he was honoured to be at the service to commemorate Sandakan and to acknowledge the sacrifices made by Australians, Britons and Sabahans in the World War Two tragedy.
Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman, in his speech read out by Sabah Special Tasks Minister Datuk Teo Chee Kang, said the atrocities back then serve as a constant reminder to all on the importance of peace.
“In some parts of the world, war and oppression have become common, and we can only pray that these acts which are claiming the lives of innocent people will come to an end,” Musa said. — Bernama