They laid down their lives so we could live ours, says CM at Sandakan

Never forget: Joniston delivering the speech for Hajiji during the memorial at Sandakan Memorial Park in the east coast Sabah district.

KOTA KINABALU: Sandakan Memorial Day is an apt opportunity for the people to continue their quest for peace, says Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor.

“As we speak, at this very moment, wars are fought in many parts of the world.

“Young men and women have been sent to the battlefields and we all know the consequences all too well.

“We offer a special salute to all and pray for their safe return to their loved ones,” Hajiji said in his speech at the Sandakan Memorial Park in the east coast Sabah district yesterday.

His speech was delivered by Tourism, Culture and Environment Assistant Minister Datuk Joniston Bangkuai.

Among those present were the Australian Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister for Defence Personnel Matt Keogh, British High Commissioner to Malaysia Charles Hay and Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia Dr Justin Lee.

Hajiji said Sandakan Memorial Day was a day to remember brave Allied soldiers and local civilians during World War II.

He said 77 years ago, some 2,400 Australian and British prisoners of war were imprisoned at the Sandakan Prisoner of War Camp not far from the memorial park.

Half of the 1,066 who were forced to make the treacherous journey to Ranau, over 260km away from Sandakan, perished in the infamous three Death Marches to Ranau, he added.

Only six escaped alive to recount the brutal horrors and atrocities they had suffered, while the rest died in the Ranau and Sandakan camps.

“This shared wartime history between Australia, Britain and Sabah is a reminder of not only the sacrifice and endurance of those who perished, but also the loss and longing of families they left behind.

“Today, we join family members and friends to remember this tragic loss.

“We think of soldiers who came here far away from home to North Borneo, as we were known then, to give their all, to lay down their lives fighting enemies in order to protect us and this land.

“We are grateful and we will always remember them for their sacrifices. They laid down their lives so we could live ours,” he added.

The Chief Minister also lauded the efforts of the Sandakan Municipal Council, Sabah Tourism Board, and the organising committee for their continued dedication to hosting the Sandakan Memorial Day.

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