KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 14 — A memorial ceremony to remember the people who died during World War II when Malaya was occupied by colonial Japanese forces will be held on the second Sunday of January starting this year instead of on January 11.
Malaysia World War II History Society chairman Lee Ying Wai said the new date was made to standardise the commemoration, after several changes over the years.
The KL Remembrance Day started in 1995 when several Chinese organisations in the Klang Valley got together on August 15 to commemorate the victims of the colonial Japanese forces during the Second World War that ended in 1945.
“August 15 symbolises Japan’s unconditional surrender, marking the end of the war and the dawn of peace.
“But if you look at the graveyard, it’s actually talking about the victims. All these victims were killed in the first three months when the Japanese occupied Kuala Lumpur. Hence, we changed it to January,” Lee said in his speech during today’s KL Remembrance Day at the Hokkien cemetery here.
He said the event has been held consistently every year over the past 28 years except for three occasions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, when physical movement and travel were restricted.
He explained that the date was chosen to pay tribute to the fighters — including British, Australian, New Zealand, and Indian soldiers — and civilians who lost their lives from January 14, 1942 when the colonial Japanese forces first landed in Malaya to the Axis force’s surrender in 1945.
He said the Remembrance Day does not only serve to honour the sacrifices of victims and civilians during World War II, but to also raise awareness among the younger generation.
“In the past, we used to invite students over during Remembrance Day, but since we have moved it to January it’s a bit difficult to gather them in such a short period after school holidays.
“Hence, we are planning to give talks and seminars in Chinese independent schools which aim to engage the youth in the historical narrative, ensuring the perpetuation of remembrance for future generations,” he said.
With global wars and conflicts causing immense suffering, displacing millions, exacerbating poverty, hunger, and triggering a global food crisis, he called for unity across regions and countries.
“In today’s world, the call for peace is more urgent than ever. Let’s unite across regions and countries, working together for peace,” Lee said.
Today’s KL Remembrance Sunday saw the attendance of more than 30 local military veterans and representatives from the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, Kwong Tong Cemetery, the United Kingdom and the Chinese Embassy.