Published in NST: 25 April 2013

Anzac Day, commemorated today, is also a reminder of the gruesome Sandakan Death Marches. Andrew Law reflects on his solemn visit to Sandakan Memorial Garden.

I have never served in the regular military. But from young, I always wondered what type of person does, knowing they will be called upon to make the ultimate personal sacrifice.


I was an army cadet for six years. Self-discipline, leadership and teamwork were the character-building qualities instilled upon us. But one annual event had the greatest influence on me.

Every Remembrance Sunday in the United Kingdom, held the second Sunday of every November at 11am, a two minutes’ silence would be observed in the Remembrance Courtyard of my old school.

It signified the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. That is the time and date when all of the guns on Europe’s Western Front ceased firing, signifying the end of World War I.

Remembrance Sunday commemorates the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian men and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts, and all those who mourn them.


I don’t consider myself a pacifist. Neither am I someone that agrees with the hawkish reasoning behind some of today’s world conflicts. But I do have the utmost respect for those willing to fight for my freedom by making the ultimate sacrifice, and for those who mourn for them.

Today, Thursday, April 25, is Anzac Day. It is a National Day of Remembrance in Australia and New Zealand.

It originally honoured members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac) who served and died at Gallipoli in the Ottoman Empire (what is now part of Turkey), during World War I.

More than 8,700 Australians and as many as 2,700 New Zealanders were killed at Gallipoli. Given the two countries’ smaller populations at the time, it was a massive loss of life.


Anzac Day is also meant to remember and honour those involved in more recent conflicts, such as World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan.

Anzac Day is also of great local historical significance because of the Anzacs that were imprisoned in Sabah by the Japanese during World War II and the subsequent Sandakan Death Marches.


From late 1941 to early 1942, Japanese forces were victorious the further south they went, bringing World War II to Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

Many of the Allied Forces servicemen were taken as Prisoners of War (POWs). In July 1942, nearly 1,500 Australian POWs were shipped from Japanese-occupied Singapore to Sandakan.

Their task, as forced labour — alongside Javanese civilians — was to build a Japanese military airfield, where today’s modern airport stands in Sandakan.

In 1943, over 770 British POWs arrived, followed by a further 500 Australians. All of these POWs were imprisoned at the Sandakan POW camp.

By late 1943, there were around 2,500 POWs at Sandakan. As the tide of war began to turn against the Japanese, in January 1945 the first of three Death Marches took place.

The physically weak POWs were force-marched in their loincloths during the 260-kilometre route to Ranau.

The Death Marches claimed the lives of many of the malnourished, wounded and sick POWs. By the end of the war, only six POWs survived. And only because these Australians had managed to escape their Japanese captors, and were hidden and fed by the locals. No British POWs survived.

The Returned & Services League of Australia (RSL), a support organisation for the men and women who are or have served in the Australian Defence Force, began the task of preserving the old Sandakan POW site.


A memorial park has been developed with the help of the Australian government with close co-operation of the Sabah government in Taman Rimba, about 11km outside Sandakan.


It is a memorial to those who suffered and died there, on the Death Marches and at Ranau.

When you enter the serene Sandakan Memorial Garden, the flowers, trees and water features belie its horrific significance. This is the site of the original POW camp where so many perished, and the setting off point for the Death Marches.

When you see the different memorial stones and read the explanations of what happened during the Death Marches in the small Museum, you begin to wonder how the natural beauty of the memorial garden can reconcile itself with acts of human nature at its very worse. You’ll see the old boiler used to heat water, an old excavator used to dig trenches at the airfield, and parts of an electric generator.

The small museum is filled with wall-mounted displays that document the POWs lives, maps, photographs and a scale model of the POW camp. An Anzac Day memorial service is held in Sandakan every year, while another more specific service is held on August 15, the official Sandakan Memorial Day.

If you are in Sabah and you meet those attending the Anzac memorial service, mourning their family members and lost ones, go and talk to them. Listen to the stories of personal sacrifice. Let them know of your appreciation and respect for their fallen.

Likewise for those attending the Anzac Memorial Service held in Kuala Lumpur’s Cheras Road Christian Cemetery. Talk to them. Listen to the stories of their loved ones.

We must remember them. To forget those who have made the ultimate personal sacrifice is to take for granted our daily way of life and freedom. Lest we forget.


When I first started at my old school in the UK, I never appreciated the significance of the courtyard and its flagpole. When I became an army cadet, I learnt to respect the small courtyard and not run through it wildly, like any other part of the school grounds.

As cadets, we would stand to attention during the Remembrance Sunday parade while the Last Post was sounded by the bugle player, signifying sunset or death, followed by two minutes of silence.

This was followed by the Reveille bugle call, signifying sunrise and resurrection, during which the half-mast flag was raised.

During the memorial service, a long list of former pupils who were killed in the two world wars was read out by the chaplain. And a wreath made from red poppies would be laid at the foot of the flagpole.

Red poppies because these brightly coloured flowers bloomed across many of the battlefields where the worse fighting took place in Europe, symbolically representing the blood spilled by the fallen.

We would be dressed in our khaki number two service dress uniform, light blue berets and pin our Parachute Regiment cap badges. Simply wearing a military uniform during the commemoration made us young and naive teenagers quickly appreciate that in a different time and place, former pupils who were not that much older than us had made the ultimate personal sacrifice. Whether they volunteered or were called up for national service, the chaplain’s list was very long.

The memorial service gave me a very intense solemn feeling that made me wonder why ordinary men and women are prepared to personally sacrifice so much, in such an extraordinary way. 

Few of us truly appreciated what they had done, while most have quickly forgotten that our lives would be very different, were it not for their self-sacrifice.

It is a set of emotions that I have not felt since I was a young army cadet. But a feeling that returns to me on my trip to Sandakan.
Everlasting words

“Lest We Forget” These words were written in 1897 and are the refrain to each of the four verses of the poem Recessional by the poet Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936).

They have been incorporated into the regular commemoration ceremony of the Returned and Services League of Australia and the Royal British Legion.

After the sounding of The Last Post, the recital of the Ode of Remembrance, and the two-minute silence, the leader of the ceremony says: “Lest we forget”.

The phrase is then repeated by the gathering. The words call us to remember the sacrifice of those servicemen and women who died in the war.


Published in TheStar:Tuesday April 2, 2013

MALAYSIA Airport Holdings Bhd (MAHB) is to be commended for working to open KLIA2 on schedule on June 28.

MAHB must ensure that the needs of the travelling-public are taken into consideration in the KLIA2 project as there is an expected 7.1% passenger growth this year.

In a recent statement MAHB pointed out that 82% of construction work had been completed, including the air traffic control tower.

I have been following developments and wish to congratulate its managing director Tan Sri Bashir Ahmad for his leadership and management skills in bringing the company to its present level and for transforming the airport into one of the world’s largest airports.

MAHB can be proud that KLIA has won several awards.

There is a lot more to be done as it is poised to be one of the busiest airports in the world by 2020.

In my meeting with Bashir sometime last year he told me of MAHB’s future expansion programmes as well as measures to be taken for the future improvement of airports for travellers and visitors with emphasis on safety and security.

I am a frequent user of KLIA and I wish to impress upon MAHB the need to look into and act on the following:

> Maintenance of airport facilities in both the KLIA, LCCT and other airports under its control must be constantly monitored and improved, particularly with regard to the cleanliness of toilets which are not up to expectations;

> Many taps in the KLIA are not working;

> Contract workers who are responsible for collecting and stacking the big trolleys in bays by the side of the carrousel need to be told to do so in a way that passengers can retrieve them easily.

What they are doing now is just pushing the trolleys to the bay and “jamming” them so tight that it is difficult to retrieve them;

> MAHB should replace all small old trolleys inside the airport as many are not functioning well due to wear and tear; and

> Have more police patrols in both KLIA and LCCT to boost confidence of passengers and to deal with any security threat.

MAHB is in a position to do more to make KLIA, KLIA2, LCCT and other airports safe, clean, user-friendly and be the pride of the nation.


SEPANG: The construction works at the new low-cost airline hub, KLIA2, is on track and the airport is on schedule for a June 28 launch, said Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB). Chairman Wan Aziz Wan Abdullah said the new airport is 82% complete, including works for air traffic control tower and paving the runway.

He said all efforts are taken to meet the target date, which was mooted by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, to coincide with the date of the launch of Kuala Lumpur International Airport in 1998.

Courtesy : Internet images

“MAHB is closely monitoring the progress of the work being done by the contractors, with some works by the contractors behind schedule but efforts are being taken by them to catch up and work towards the target date.

“As the terminal operations involve multiple stakeholders including airlines and agencies, it is important that all parties are ready before the terminal can be operational,” Wan Aziz told reporters after the company’s annual general meeting here today.

Source:Internet images

MAHB is also employing 1,102 new staff for KLIA2, of whom 746 are for aviation security, 86 for airport fire and rescue services, 98 for engineering and maintenance and 172 are in operations services.

MAHB’s chief financial officer, Faizal Mansor, said with the opening of KLIA2, the airport operator expected its retail revenue to jump to RM800 million this year from RM537.5 million last year.

With some 10 airlines committed to operate from the new airport, Faizal said KLIA2, which has a significant space portion for retail, had attracted many international retail brands.

The RM4 billion KLIA2, built to cater for the explosive growth expected in low-cost travel, is envisaged to handle a maximum of 45 million passengers per year.

It will have 60 gates, eight remote stands and 80 aerobridges, plus a 32,000 sq metre retail space with 225 outlets.


MALAYSIA'S first hybrid airline Malindo Air has mapped out a strategy to fly to some 20 destinations such as China, Japan and South Korea over the next two years.

The airline's chief executive officer Chandran Ramamuthy said between now and June, Malindo Air will fly to Miri, Sibu, Bintulu, Penang and New Delhi.

Malindo Air started its maiden flight on March 22 from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang.

Currently, it offers four daily flights between KLIA and Kuching and three daily flights between KLIA and Kota Kinabalu.

Source : Malindo Air Website


Kuala Lumpur : Malindo Air, Malaysia's first hybrid airline, could start flying from the Subang Skypark Terminal using ATR turboprop aircraft in June. However this hinges on it securing an air operator certificate from the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA), sources said.

They said the airline is expected to obtain the DCA approval as early as next month.

Business Times understands that Malindo Air will receive the first two of six ATR aircraft from its major shareholder, Indonesia's Lion Air, by June.

The aircraft will be used to serve new domestic routes and Indonesian destinations.

Lion Air had placed an order for 27 ATR 72-600s in February last year for its unit, Wings Air. The delivery of the aircraft will be completed in 2015.

Sources said Malindo Air is now setting up its office at Skypark Terminal as it believes the DCA approval is imminent. "Malindo Air should start their turboprop operations at Skypark Terminal by early June," said one source.

Courtesy : Internet images
Another source said Malindo Air will operate its hybrid and turboprop operations separately.

Thus, it has no intention of shifting its current base at the low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT) in Sepang, at least until klia2 is ready. "They are planning to operate separate turboprop services from Subang, like Firefly," he added.

As at press time, calls and text messages to Malindo Air chief executive officer Chandran Ramamuthy were unanswered.  Malindo Air is 51 per cent-owned by the National Aerospace and Defence Industries Sdn Bhd and 49 per cent by Lion Air.

Courtesy : Internet images
The airline started its maiden flights last month from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang.

It offers four daily flights between Kuala Lumpur and Kuching and three daily flights between Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu using two Boeing 737-900ER.


NST : 17 April 2013

KUALA LUMPUR: Aviation is the safest mode of transportation in Malaysia, helped by the good work done by Department of Civil Aviation (DCA).

AirClaims aviation surveyor Tan Soon Keat said the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) is located in a very strategic position where incidents like air crash rarely occurs.
"I have full respect for the Malaysian DCA, they are doing a very good job and are very professional in ensuring the safety of passengers," he told Bernama at the Annual International Claims convention here.
He said Malaysia is one of the countries that is signatory under the International Civil Aviation Organization, formed under the auspices of the United Nations, that established Flight Information Regions (FIRs) for controlling air traffic and making airport identification simple and clear.
"Malaysia's pilots and officers who work in the aviation industry are properly trained with the Standard Operating Procedure," he said.
Airclaims, developed by its parent company McLarens, is the world's leading provider of claims, risk and asset management services in the aviation industry.
DCA, which consists of Air Traffic Management, Flight Operation, Airport Standards, Air Traffic Inspectorate and Aviation Security, has an advanced and smooth operational system which is comparable to an international standard.
Meanwhile, in terms of claims in the global aviation industry, Tan said it has been in a downtrend, which is a good sign as it showed fewer occurrences.
"Based on our record, the claims have been dropping for the past few years and this create confident sign that traveling by air is the safest," he said.
It was reported that the KLIA handled 38 million passengers last year. -- BERNAMA