Indian army veterans pay tribute to fallen heroes

KUCHING: Members of the Malaysian Armed Forces Indian Veterans Association (Perim) yesterday morning paid tribute to the fallen heroes of the Second World War at the Heroes’ Monument at Jalan Budaya here.

Visiting veterans joined their local comrades in a brief sombre and touching ceremony, with the soldiers dressed to the ‘T’ in their best suits decorated with the medals they had personally earned.

Around 200 Indian veterans are here to attend the association’s national annual delegates’ conference beginning yesterday until today at a prominent hotel.

While here, they will also attend a dinner hosted by the Sarawak branch of the association.

Perim president Maj Murugaiyah Andy and members viewing the names of the heroes etched on the memorial after the wreath-laying ceremony at the Heroes memorial Park at Jalan Budaya, Kuching.

Perim was set up to strengthen the “esprit de corps” and relations of Indian veterans in Malaysia besides looking after the welfare and socioeconomic needs of its members and their family members.

The annual general meeting this weekend also provides scores of Indian veterans who had served in Sarawak a chance to revisit the state.

Sarawak is host to numerous soldiers who have made it their home and a large number of them are Indian veterans; some have chosen Sarawak as their retirement home while others have taken up a second career in the state at the end of their service.

Perim Sarawak branch chairman Capt (Rtd) K Narayanan, for example, is a successful businessman who has created many businesses in Sarawak.

He has chosen Sarawak to be the base of his businesses as well as his permanent home.

The association has been successful in helping out its members in many areas, including recouping pensions, funeral services and welfare aid, with its on-going good collaboration between the association and the Veterans Welfare Department (JHEV) under the Ministry of Defence Malaysia.

The historic WWII Heroes Graves Memorial Park is part of the state’s important history and was set up in memory of the wartime Japanese Occupation of Borneo from 1941 to 1945. It is inter-related to the memorials in Batu Lintang Prisoner of War (POW) Camp and also the British and Australian Commando Landings in the Bario Highlands in 1945.

The veterans in a group photograph after the wreath-laying ceremony.

Progress was made in 2011 when the Sarawak government supported the request of the Sarawak Rangers Association to bring back the remains of the Iban trackers and rangers from the graves in Taiping and other  states  in the Peninsula back here.

With the assistance of Ministry of Defence Malaysia, their remains were brought back to Kuching in full military honours and Iban tradition for reburial here with the 21 Sarawak heroes who fought alongside the British Army during the Malayan Emergency for the independence of the then Federation of Malaya 1957, as displayed on the big marble monument here.

Temenggong Kanang Langkau is also another noted hero remembered on the memorial wall since his death in 2014.