IPOH, June 19 — The new federal and state government must not forget the war memorial project to honour the service of British and Indian soldiers during World War II in Kampar, stressed a veterans’ association today.
The Malaysian Armed Forces Sikh Veterans Association (MAFSVA), which has been spearheading the fight for the memorial, hopes that the new government will carry on the memorial project that was promised under BN after a long wait.
The memorial, which would be located on a 6.5ha expanse of hillside, is meant to honour some 1,300 British and Indian soldiers who slowed the advance of Japanese forces during 1941’s historic Battle of Kampar.
“The battle took place 77 years ago and there is no reason to wait that long for a memorial. There is a long overdue delay” said MAFSVA president Major (Rtd) Baldev Singh Ganda Singh.
“Foreign soldiers came to Malaya to defend our country — they were not even citizens.”
“It was the longest battle in Malaya at that time. It is a pity we don’t have something there in their memory. Imagine if it was our family members that gave their lives for this,” he added.
Baldev noted that previous mentris besar, former tourism minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, and representatives from the Indian government had voiced their support for the memorial over the years.
Over the past decades, he added that several ad hoc committees and his organisations had been dedicated to preserve this group and fight for the memorial project.
“We’ve seen two mentris besar who have backed the project, but it hasn’t been completed yet. Why is there a need to wait?” Baldev asked.
“We just don’t want the authorities to keep dragging their feet on this.”
To this end, Baldev said he would be writing to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Perak Mentri Besar Ahmad Faizal Azumu, asking them to continue the project.
In March 2017, then minister Nazri said he was fully behind the efforts to erect a memorial at the Green Ridge battle site.
Then, Nazri announced that he would be discussing plans for the memorial with the Indian government when he accompanied former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on an official visit to India.
Nazri also said the previous Perak state government—led by Datuk Seri Zambry Abd Kadir—was trying to acquire the piece of land that contained the historic site.
Baldev said he had not been updated about any further development for the project since then.
The Battle of Kampar saw some 1,300 soldiers consisting of troops from the British Royal Leicestershire and East Surrey Regiments, as well as the 11th Indian Infantry Division slowing the advance of some 4,000 Japanese troops towards Singapore.
Around 500 soldiers were killed, including Japanese and Allied troops.
Historians believe that the soldiers’ bravery and valour was responsible for the delay of the Japanese advance.