KUALA LUMPUR: The Sikh community’s role in defending the then Malaya during the two World Wars was the highlight of the Remembrance Day ceremony held at the National Monument here.
British High Commissioner to Malaysia Vicki Treadell said the Sikhs had fought as part of the British Indian Army who defended Malaya, adding that it was important for the present generation to pay their respects and remember those who had given everything, including their lives.
“During World War I, the Sikhs contributed over 20% of the British Indian Army and in World War II, the Sikhs made up more than 60% of the total Indian Commonwealth Force in Malaya that fought against the Japanese,” she said in her welcoming address at the event yesterday.
Besides war veterans, Treadell urged people to remember all those who had lost their lives, including military prisoners of war and civilian interns who suffered in captivity throughout the region.
Expressing his gratitude for the recognition, Coalition of Malaysian Sikh Organisations secretary-general Autar Singh said the community had contributed a lot during the Japanese invasion and the Emergency.
“We are proud to say that this ceremony has touched the hearts of the Sikh community,” he said.
Major (rtd) Amarjit Singh, who served in the Malaysian Armed Forces for 27 years, said Remembrance Day was the day for the younger generation to pay their respects to their forefathers who had fought for peace and stability.
“If people think that the army person has no brains but all brawn, they are totally wrong. We learn everything from A to Z about ethics and strategies to build a nation,” said the Royal Ranger Regiment veteran who is the fourth generation in his family to have served the nation as a member of the armed forces.
Earlier, more than 200 representatives from various countries observed a two-minute silence in honour of those who died in both World Wars.
The Remembrance Day ceremony was also attended by foreign ambassadors, high commissioners and defence advisers from, among others, Britain, France, the United States, Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland, South Africa, Sweden and New Zealand, as well as representatives from the Malaysian Armed Forces. It ended with the traditional laying of 39 wreaths at the base of the Cenotaph.
In Labuan, hundreds of people gathered at the country’s largest World War II Memorial to honour the 3,908 soldiers from the Allied Forces and local defence units who lost their lives in Borneo during World War II from 1941-45. — Bernama
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