KOTA KINABALU, April 24 — The Australian government has expressed its condolences to the families of 10 victims who died when two Royal Malaysian Navy helicopters crashed at the TLDM base in Lumut, Perak, yesterday.

Australia Veteran’s Affairs Assistant Minister Matt Thistlewaite said Australia and Malaysia share a very strong defence bond and relationship going back to the Second World War and a tragedy such as this really hits home to all across the world and particularly our two nations.

“We offer our sincerest condolences and our thoughts and prayers with your nation, your people, but particularly the people of the Malaysian Defence Force as the recovery begins,” he told reporters at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport here today.

Thistlewaite is sheduled to attend the Dawn Service on Anzac Day at Sandakan Memorial Park, Sandakan, tomorrow.


In the 9.32am incident yesterday, 10 TLDM personnel were killed when two TLDM helicopters crashed in Lumut while conducting a third rehearsal for a flypast in conjunction with the TLDM Fleet Open Day, scheduled to be held this Saturday.

Meanwhile, when asked how does Australia contribute to the upkeep of the war graves in Sabah, he said Australia makes an annual contribution to the Commonwealth War Graves.

“There’s an organisation that’s based in Brussels that has the role and responsibility of maintaining Commonwealth graves throughout the world.


“All Commonwealth nations make a contribution and it’s a fitting tribute to our soldiers who served in all wars and conflicts representing Commonwealth nations, that they get an appropriate place of burial where their service and sacrifice is recognised and it’s wonderful that Malaysia contributes so much to the upkeep of those graves here,” he said.

Thistlewaite also said he was very pleased and very proud as an Australian of the partnership that exists between Australia and Malaysia to commemorate Australian military history.

“Seeing the great job that the local community does in the upkeep of those graves, and the maintenance of the grounds is spectacular. And I want to thank the Malaysian community for the great work that you do in preserving Australian military history. It’s something that we’re very thankful for,” he added.

At the same time, he said there are a number of ex service organisations in Australia that still have proud connections with the Malayan campaign and World War Two.

“There’s regular family visits from Australians who have relatives who served here and are here at places such as where we visited this morning, so that will continue into the future.

“What we’re finding is now you’re starting to get grandchildren and younger generations that are interested in learning about their family history and connection to service in South-east Asia.

“And they’re making the pilgrimage to Labuan Cemetery and other places throughout the world to learn and understand their family connection to service in World War Two,” he said. — Bernama