DBKK honours eight war victims

KOTA KINABALU: Eight civilians, who died during the Japanese military occupation from 1942 to 1945, were finally honoured as war heroes during a ceremony in memory of war victims at Petagas War Memorial today.

Kota Kinabalu City Hall (DBKK) director-general Datuk Joannes Solidau said their names were also emblazoned on new plaques that had been placed on the monument to replace the old plaques.

"DBKK has taken the initiative to examine the validity in the cases of the eight persons after their families applied for them to be recognised as war heroes," he said when met by reporters after the ceremony.

The ceremony, which was held for the 69th time, was officiated by Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan.

The eight men, who were members of Kinabalu Guerrilla, were led by Albert Kwok. The others were Lothar Wong Manjaji, Vitalianus Joseph Lim @ Ubing, Chong Pin Sin, Simon Thien, Paul Lee Fook Onn @ Paul Lee Onn, Bung Ah Tee @ Stephen Pan Tet Liong, Lim Hock Beng and Mohinder Singh.

They were detained by Japanese soldiers between June 12 and early July 1945 on the 'senjo' or eradication directive, before being killed without a trial.

Monica Lim, 90, of Kampung Limbahau, Papar said she was in her teens when her father Vitalianus Joseph was killed, but his body, together with the remains of Lothar and Paul Lee, have not been found to this day.

"Now we have a place to meet our father, namely, here (Petagas War Memorial)."

Monica said her father had eight children, of which three, including herself are still alive.

She was accompanied by her younger sister, Justina, 73, and 53 family members at the ceremony and represented her family to place a wreath at the memorial in memory of her father.

Dymphna (pronounciation: Demna) Ubing, 53, the grandchild of Vitalianus Joseph, thanked the Sabah state government for its appreciation and for honouring her grandfather's heroism.

"Only from this event that I now know my grandfather was unlawfully killed. So, we are so grateful that finally, his heroic deeds are acknowledged and recognised by the people of Sabah."

Meanwhile, Kahan Singh believed that his cousin, Mohinder was 18 or 19 years old when he was killed.

Although Mohinder died at such a young age, his family members were thankful that he was honoured by DBKK via the carving of his name at the memorial, he said.

On Jan 21, 1944, a total of 176 guerrillas were killed en masse by Japanese soldiers and buried at Patagas, which would become the site of the memorial.

When the war ended, surviving guerrillas decided that the 96 guerrillas who were killed at a prison, which was known as Batu Tiga, and 117 who died when in custody in Labuan, would be buried with the rest in Patagas. — Bernama