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Thursday 22 October, 2015
Source: Lim How Pim, The Borneo Post
KUCHING: A 15-member delegation from Australia paid tribute yesterday to individuals who sacrificed their lives for peace and freedom during the Second World War (WWII). Led by the son of Brigadier General Sir Thomas Eastick, former South Australia Speaker Dr Bruce Eastick, the commemoration took place at the Batu Lintang Teachers Training Institute Memorial Square. Assistant Minister of Heritage Liwan Lagang who officiated at the commemoration said he hoped more young Australians would come to experience the contributions and footsteps of their forefathers in Borneo, particularly Sarawak. He welcomed the Australian delegates and guests who gathered at the Square to mark the 70th anniversary of WWII and the Liberation of Sarawak and the then Batu Lintang Prisoners of War (POW) Camp 1945 on the surrender of the occupying Japanese Forces on Sept 11, 1945.
“Looking back in history, we learned about the atrocities inflicted on POWs by the occupying Japanese Forces and the hardships suffered by the people of Borneo from 1941 to 1945.“
Following the historical moment of achievement of peace on Sept 11, 1945, we have a new horizon of peace and hope upon which the Batu Lintang Teachers Training School and College was established in 1948 as an educational institution that rose from the ashes of the war, with the mission that through education we can together nurture a culture of peace and harmony among mankind,” he said.
Liwan extended his gratitude to the Sarawak Tourism Federation’s (STF) Heritage Development Committee and the institution as well as Australian veterans and families and local agencies for their perseverance in expanding the historical heritage. “This moment in history of our shared wartime history in Borneo will contribute towards the progress and peace in the Asia
Pacific realm,” he added. Meanwhile, STF Heritage Development Committee chairman Lim Kian Hock said the commemoration was to relive the historical moment 70 years ago on Sept 11.
Quoting Sir Eastick upon receiving the surrender document signed by Major General Hiyoe Yamamura on Sept 11, 1945, he said: “I feel deeply honoured to be the one to bring relief to you today. I will read a message to you from Commander of the 9th Australian Army Major General George Wootten which set you free. We are sorry to have taken so long in coming to you, because of your position up the Kuching River and the difficult fighting in Borneo. We have brought with us three padres (priests) from Catholic, Anglican and Congregational churches for your wish to have thanksgiving services.” After the speeches, Liwan, Eastick and three other individuals placed wreathes on the memorial inscribed with the words ‘Lest We Forget. Borneo WWII 1942-1945. To Live Together In Peace With One Another As Good Neighbours. (UN Charter 1945)’.
Australian delegates and guests also had a tour at the mini museum that is adjacent to the Square. Inside the museum, Liwan together with Eastick also launched a book titled ‘Batu Lintang WWII Memorial (Former Batu Lintang POW Camp) 1942-1945 – Roll of Honour’.