PAGOH: World War II survivor Tey Kim Lam reminisced about how Malaysians endured hardship before Merdeka during a talk with Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin at a Chinese New Year gathering in Bukit Gambir here.
Muhyiddin is Pagoh MP and Bukit Gambir assemblyman.
Tey, 87, said that during the Japanese Occupation, many went hungry for days and had to depend on each other for food.
"In that era, no one talked about race or religion and our bond was solid like rock," he said to Muhyiddin at the Foong Yoon Kong Stadium here on Friday (Feb 8).
Tey said he was 10 years old when he witnessed how various races worked together during the war.
"We ate each others' food without any suspicion and many survivors like me could speak fluent Bahasa Melayu or Tamil due to our close brotherhood spirits.
"We were closely-knit communities at Bukit Gambir, none of us harboured ill-feelings against each other," he said.
Tey attended the event with his wife, Lim Kim Hei, 82, and the elderly but still hale couple caught the minister's attention.
The couple married in 1953 and have three sons and two daughters.
Earlier, Muhyiddin said in his speech that Bukit Gambir is set to be developed as a small and medium industry hub with the aim of elevating the people's socio-economic status.
For a start, a 40ha site has been identified by the state government to be the new growth area for northern Johor, he said.
"The project is also designed to provide job opportunities for the locals," he said, adding that the project is under the purview of the Johor Corporation as well as several other local investors.