BY NATASHA JEE & NIA NATASHA HASENAN
KUCHING: A commemoration of the liberation of the Batu Lintang prisoners of war (POW) camp and Sarawak was held at the Batu Lintang World War II (WWII) Memorial Square today.
Seventy-five years ago on Sept 11, 1945, the camp was liberated when the Japanese surrendered at the end of WWII.
“What we are today, and what we get to enjoy now, are the fruits of our forefathers’ sacrifices. We shall commit to doing our best in immortalising their legacies.
“By participating in promoting historical sites, such as the Batu Lintang POW camp, as a tourism spot, we are perpetuating their legacies not only in our memories but also to the world,” Kuching City South Council (MBKS) mayor Datuk Wee Hong Seng said in his speech.
“It reminds us of the pain and suffering that our forefathers had to endure in exchange for peacetime that we enjoy today.”
Wee said it was important that everyone repay their sacrifices by ensuring peace and harmony in Sarawak.
Meanwhile, Sarawak Tourism Federation (STF) Heritage Development Committee adviser Datuk Lim Kian Hock said it was a privilege to pay tribute to those who had suffered during the Japanese occupation of Sarawak from 1941 to 1945.
“This POW campsite is a silent witness to our dark times during World War II. It reveals also the wartime atrocities, brutality and deaths of POW and the suffering of the people.
“The POW and the internees demonstrated courage, human ingenuity and resourcefulness in captivity. They maintained close knit cohesion, never lost their sense of humanity and their determination to struggle for survival.”
Lim, a renowned Sarawak historian, said the heritage committee’s footprints had grown over the years, and they managed to revive and install the Bario WWII Commandos Sculpture Memorial in 2010, the WWII Heroes Graves Park (2010) and the Batu Lintang Memorial Square (2012).
The committee also printed and published heritage booklets namely Mike — A Priceless Journey, Mario Borneo Reflection and the Lintang Camp.
“We are humbled in 2012, during the Diamond Jubilee of British Queen Elizabeth II celebration, Her Majesty the Queen received our ‘Mike — A Priceless Journey’ book, and later we were overjoyed to receive a memorable letter from Buckingham Palace on July 20, 2012,” shared Lim.
Also present were survivor of the Batu Lintang POW camp Jeli Abdullah @ Dandi Michael Tiong and STF Heritage Development Committee chairwoman Fiona Marcus Raja.