Byline: Loke Kok Fai
SINGAPORE: While many have never experienced the horrors of war, they must never forget the lessons learned and the commitment and sacrifices of their forefathers in protecting the country and its way of life, said the chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Defence and Foreign Affairs Vikram Nair on Wednesday (Feb 15).
Mr Nair was speaking at a ceremony at Kranji War Cemetery commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the Fall of Singapore during World War II. The event marks the first time former Allied nations such as Singapore, Australia, the United Kingdom and India are working together with Japan to organise a commemoration ceremony in the spirit of reconciliation.
“This commitment to remember the horrors of war and to defend Singapore is at the core of Total Defence,” said Mr Nair. “It is when every Singaporean is resolved to play their part, and contribute to keeping Singapore strong on all fronts, that we can be confident of safeguarding our nation and our home against different threats and challenges that come our way.”
The ceremony also honoured the sacrifices of military personnel who fought in Malaya and Singapore during the war and subsequent Occupation, as well as civilians who had lost their lives.
Among the 700 people present at the ceremony were members of the Singapore Armed Forces’ Veterans League, war veterans or former civilian internees and overseas WWII veteran associations such as the Malayan Volunteers Group and Australia’s 2/10th Field Regiment Association.
Japanese Ambassador to Singapore Kenji Shinoda said it was always painful for him and the Japanese people to look back and think about what happened in Singapore 75 years ago.
“I express my feelings of profound grief and heartfelt condolences. I believe that such feelings are shared by the overwhelming majority of Japanese,” said Mr Shinoda, who also laid a wreath at the ceremony.
Members of the Japanese community also laid paper cranes folded by students of The Japanese School Singapore. The cranes symbolise the wish to heal the wounds of war, and continue on the road of reconciliation.
A commemorative plaque for the anniversary was also unveiled by Commissioner of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Lieutenant General William Rollo. This will be eventually be mounted inside the Battlebox on Fort Canning Hill – the former underground command centre of the Malaya Command during the war, and the place where the decision to surrender was made in 1942.