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I lost my mother to the Japanese war

 Whenever Allied planes bombed Sandakan town as part of its campaign to liberate Borneo, Daniel Chin Tung Foh’s grandfather would rush the whole family into a bomb shelter behind their house.  During its heyday, the British North Borneo Company had developed Sandakan into a major commercial and trading hub for timber, as well as […]

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A witness to the Double Tenth revolt

 Chua Hock Yong was born in Singapore, but his grandfather moved the family to British North Borneo (now Sabah) to establish their business in 1939 when he was a year old.  The Japanese invaded Borneo shortly after, but the family continued living in their shophouse in Gaya Street, Jesselton, now known as Kota Kinabalu.  […]

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An encounter with victims of the Sandakan Death Marches

 When the Second World War came to Borneo, Pelabiu Akai’s mother moved the family back to their village in Nalapak, Ranau.  Although the Japanese were known to be ruthless and brutal conquerors, they left the villagers to their own devices and Pelabiu had a largely uneventful life – until she came across gaunt-looking Allied […]

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Sarawak’s only living child prisoner of war

 Jeli Abdullah’s mother died from labour complications after giving birth to him and his twin brother. To his Bisaya tribe, this was seen as a bad omen, and his father did not know what to do with the twins.  Fortunately, an Australian missionary couple decided to adopt the newborns. But misfortunate fell upon the […]

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A native uprising against Japanese forces

 Basar Paru, 95, was only a teenager when his village in the central highlands of Borneo was invaded by the Japanese Imperial army.  “The Japanese told us not to help the British. They said Asians should help each other because we have the same skin, same hair,” Basar recalled. “But we, the Lun Bawang […]

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Left behind in wartime chaos

 Kadazan native Anthony Labangka was 10 years old when the Japanese Imperial Army invaded Borneo during World War II.  Sitting in the verandah of a modern kampung house on a hot afternoon in Kampung Penampang Proper, where he has lived his whole life, Anthony recalls the hardships of the Japanese Occupation.  The villagers were […]

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Passing the torch: WWII Freedom fighter

Having two generations of freedom-fighters and political changemakers in the family, these teens want to make their own mark, too. Their grandfather’s tales of fighting against the Japanese Occupation have inspired them.

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Kuala Lumpur at war

Former child labourer John Robson witnessed a public execution at the old Pavilion Theatre in Kuala Lumpur. It was only one of many atrocities committed throughout the Japanese Occupation.

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Never Forgotten

 SEVERAL weeks ago, Lim Chung Bee, 93, sat down to tell R.AGE the remarkable story of how he survived being a prisoner of war in Japan during World War II. As his loving grandchildren listened on, he spoke of how he was captured en route to Darwin, Australia in 1942 while serving with the […]

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Bittersweet lessons from WWII

The grandchildren of Malayan WWII survivors discover – and learn – from their grandparents’ wartime pasts.

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