Australian High Commissioner visits Sandakan to commemorate Sandakan Day 2013
The Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia, H.E. Mr Miles Kupa, travelled to Sandakan to participate in a ceremony to mark Sandakan Day on 15 August. Sandakan Day commemorates the Australian and British prisoners of war who died at Sandakan, on the death marches, and at Ranau during the Second World War.
Around 2,700 prisoners of war were held in captivity at Sandakan, but only six prisoners - all Australians - managed to escape and survive the ordeal. Sandakan Day also honours the sacrifice of the local people of Sabah, many of whom risked and received terrible punishment to assist the prisoners of war.
This year's Sandakan Day memorial service was attended by relatives of the veterans, local community groups, and local and foreign dignitaries. As well as Mr Kupa, official guests at the ceremony included the Sabah State Minister of Special Functions YB Datuk Teo Chee Kang, the President of the Sandakan Municipal Council Datuk Ir James Wong and the British Deputy High Commissioner to Malaysia Mr Ray Kyles.
During the memorial service, Mr Kupa said he was pleased to see the numbers of Australians and Malaysians at the ceremony growing each year.
"It is recognition of the growing consciousness of Sandakan as an important but long neglected chapter in our military history, and indeed our national history.
"Amid the terrible tragedy of this history, we also commemorate the special friendships that grew between Australians and Sabahans in these almost unthinkable circumstances. These friendships developed between the prisoners and the locals who assisted them and after the war, between the families of the soldiers killed and the survivors," he added.
Mr Kupa and the Australian Defence Adviser, Captain Geoff Uren, also laid wreaths during the memorial service.
The Australian High Commission extends its thanks to the Sandakan Municipal Council for hosting the commemoration ceremony of Sandakan Day this year, and thanks the Australian Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Sabah Tourism Board for their support.
From left (holding wreaths): Sabah State Minister of Special Functions YB Datuk Teo Chee Kang, the Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia H.E. Mr Miles Kupa and the British Deputy High Commissioner to Malaysia Mr Ray Kyles laying wreaths during the memorial service.
One of the guests laying wreaths at the memorial service.
Official guests at the Sandakan Day 2013 memorial service.
Note: Photographs courtesy of Mr Arthur Chung.