Message From The Right Honourable Sab ah Chief Minister
Last year in Sandakan, we commemorated the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, not only with the annual Sandakan Day Service but with an exhibition, World War II: The Sabah's Story, and a walk too from Sandakan to Ranau to commemorate the Death Marches, grim reminders of the price paid for peace.
Since August 15, 2003, Sandakan has held a memorial service here to remember and honour the sacrifice of Sandakan's 2500 Australian and British prisoners of war and the many locals who helped them. August 15th was chosen as Sandakan Day as it was the date on which the last prisoner of war at the Sandakan Camp died.
Because of the atrocities inflicted by the Japanese on the prisoners of war, and the locals who risked and sacrificed their lives to assist them, Sandakan is remembered as Australia's worst tragedy of World War II. However, it is also remembered as a place where great courage, compassion, loyalty and mateship abounded, and as the starting point of the infamous Sandakan-Ranau Death Marches, which took the lives of over 1000 prisoners.
We must therefore ensure that the endurance, suffering and sacrifice of these brave men and of the local people, who gave their lives in the defence of our country, must not be forgotten. It is of the utmost importance that we continue to honour their memory and recognize their sacrifice, so that the younger generation and the wider community will know and understand the true meaning of the words, 'Lest We Forget.
I commend the Sandakan Municipal Council and the Organising Committee for their outstanding work and dedication in honouring those who served and made the supreme sacrifice and for producing this booklet to help keep alive the story of Sandakan.