17 August 2010

Lest We Forget

As listed in my list of events, I went to attend the Sandakan War Memorial Service at the Sandakan War Memorial Park last Sunday. Having missed it last year due to oversleep, I learnt my lesson this time by making my way out of the neighborhood just when the dawn was breaking.
People were beginning to pour in when I got there.
There was a registration counter at the entrance but I was lucky to have been spared of the hassle because only foreigners were required to register.
I had my imaginary moment of being a soldier when I had to tail behind a group of them as I was heading up to the monument. *kri nan kri! kri nan kri!kri nan kri nan kri nan kri!
Welcoming the visitors is a loooooong line of school kids in uniforms of which every one of them greeting a good morning I actually got tired of good morning them back after awhile. Smiling and nodding was the best I could do.
Their parents must be proud of having their children participating in something so significant to the history of Sabah and Malaysia as a whole. 
Apparently being there quite too early, I had to wait for at least one hour or so before the event began.
Ohh, and they actually gave each visitor a batch to be put on your shirt during the ceremony. Sandakan Municipal Board is so stingy they actually asked them to be returned after the ceremony. With so many police officers around, there was no chance for anybody to take it away without getting arrested.
Hehe. Just kidding. They actually gave it for free. Not quite bad for something that I came to attend for free too.
I knew instantly that VIPs were coming in when a loud orchestra by the Polis Diraja Malaysia PDRM blasted its way over to the monumental area. And sure enough.
Among the VIPs that attended the ceremony were Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Peter Pang and Culture, Tourism and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun. Leading the Australian entourage was the Government-General of Australia, Her Excellency Quentin Bryce.
It was actually an honor for me personally to be there being a part of the ceremony which was held to commemorate the endurance and perseverance of more than 2000 soldiers from Australia, New Zealand and Britain who were held captive by the Japanese during the World War 2.
Memorial Services for them are actually held every year in major cities of Australia on a day they call The Anzac Day but there is nothing like holding it right at the exact location of the captivity.
I was in the worse position to be sitting from where all I could see was this out-of-place big tree back-dropping a bunch of heads big enough to cover the 32’’ TV screen that they had provided for back-benchers like me.
Taking the risk of being shooed away by the heavily armed security personnel, I actually went against the rule announced by the emcee earlier that all the attendees are required to stick their asses to their seats when the ceremony is proceeding.
Besides, I didn’t go there to watch TV!
Two out of only six survivors of the tragic marches were there on hand to tell the story. It was such a heart-wrenching moment for everybody I actually found myself struggling to hold my tears. I suddenly realized how this ‘MEN DON’T CRY’ philosophy is bullshit at times. God didn’t give you a dick to give you a 'crying immunity'. Hehe.
But seriously, the best way of taking in the moment is by putting yourself into their shoes. Just how does it feel like watching 2700 people dying ONE BY ONE in the worst imaginable way possible right before your eyes?
It’s like a simple math of counting but in the mean time waking up every day to question whether you’ll live long enough to finish the count. Any time, any day, it could be your turn. The escape made them survive but the nightmare keep haunting them up until today.
The ceremony continued as a number of people including some of the VIPs, army personnel as well as family members and relatives of the POWs took to the monumental platform to perform the laying of flowers.
Done with the laying of flowers, everybody then stood up for the national anthem played beautifully by the Malaysian Royal Army while the flags of Britain, Australia, Malaysia and Sabah were being raised.
Singing out loud in the beginning, I had to turn my volume down after awhile when I realized I heard nobody’s voice but mine. It really is true that Malaysian has this silent patriotism. DUH.
The only people that I heard sing was a bunch of kids at an adjacent housing area and they were not even singing Negaraku (Justine Bieber’s Baby Baby Baby ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Erkkkkkkkk! E.T.A.H!)
And when the turn for the Australian national anthem came, the voices were thundering! It was like all of the Australian in attendance was singing and they were singing loudly and heartily! OH NO. I wanted to run and hide. In fact, I even heard more voices sing when the British national anthem took its turn and there must be less than 20 people of British people in attendance.
The flag-raising marked the end of the ceremony and I promptly broke myself away from the crowd. But not before I went to shake hands with the Government-General (Errr, no thanks Datuk). 
I was actually heading back to the entrance when I was told that there’d be a launching ceremony for a book entitled ‘Blood Brothers’.
It tells how the people of Sabah are actually originally from Australia and that Sabah should have joined Australia and not Malaysia.
Back off ISA! Do not arrest arrest me! Hehe. OK, this book by Australian historian Lynette Silver actually details the true grit, valour and sacrifices of the heroes who helped the Allied Forces during the Japanese Occupation in Sabah. This book also serve as a note to the people of Sabah who played a major part during the World War II.
Oh well, I do like books but it wasn’t the book that I was really interested in.
YES! You’re right! I was more attracted to the amois in the traditional costume.
Then came my favorite part of the morning – breakfast.
It was quite a feast actually. Lots of foods and well-dressed and uniformed people, I felt like I was being at a royal garden party or something.
Being in the fasting period for the Muslims, the food was left to be plentiful for those who were not fasting. The food was quite good, fulfilling and most importantly FREE. Who doesn't like free food? You? Kiss my ass. LOLz
Oh well, as much as I wanted to feed my stomach with as much food as possible, I actually surprised myself by picking up nothing but this.
Foolish you may say but you have no idea where I was heading to later.
I wanted to spare the space for something much more related to the 'F' word.
No no. Not that word. What I mean is FOOD. And it means something more than just feeding the stomach.
Here, WE EAT FOR CHARITY. You eat and you already did a charity. Cool huh?
But of course, that is another story. :=)


ken said...

the process is quite interesting.. hope to attend it one day.. haha..

but i wont buy the book.. =P

JIPP said...

haha. Yeah, me too. Too expensive. :-D

Murphy said...

these two amois are sitting next to me if you are interested. i'll convey your message to them anyway :)

Kelvin said...

Eat durians for charity?!

I also want!

JIPP said...

Murpy: Seriously? Your colleagues? Hehe. Oh well, say hi to them. Tell them I'm single and available. :-D
Kelvin: Yeah, eating durians for charity. and if you look closely, they are read durians. Rarely seen anywhere else but here I think. :-D

strictpollyanna said...

brp harga tu buku?

JIPP said...

Sorry, lupa mention. Masa launching RM70. Normal price RM150.

fufu said...

wow wow wow
sandakan!!! i wanna go there... you gonna show me around then lol

JIPP said...

Sure Fufu. Just come and I'll show u around. You don't know what u're missing if u don't come here. :-D


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