Thursday, January 22, 2009


War memories. Linger on for last hero alive


Lee Mm may have survived the sufferings endured during World War II.

And, although the war ended decades ago, the memories linger on for this elderly man, who could be the last standing hero alive.

Now at the age of 88, Lee Mm never fails to attend the special ceremony held annually at the Petagas Memorial Garden to commemorate the fallen heroes.

“This is the date (Jan 21) to remember every year. I get the chance to pay respects to my friends who perished in the War and I get to share the stories with their children and family members,” he said.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Joseph Pairin Kitingan led the group of dignitaries in laying wreaths to commemorate the fallen heroes yesterday.

Lee Mm, who came all the way from Menggatal along with his son, was smartly dressed in a white shirt and dark silver coloured pants as he walked slowly to the plaque to read the names of the fallen heroes.
“My name was once printed on the plaque before it got stolen. However, four names, including mine, were extracted on this new plaque,” he said.

The then 21-year- old single man recalled how he fought, armed with just a parang, against their enemies in 1940s.

“I remember when they first dropped their bombs in my village. It was in November 1941 ... it was such a terrible sight. Many were killed while the living escaped for their dear lives.

“I was just lucky to survive the sufferings, and I am happy to live to tell the story. Although many of my friends did not make it, I am proud of them. They fought hard to free us from the enemies’ clutches

it is just right to commemorate their sacrifices, they had earned our respects,” he said.

The proud father of five was also awarded the Ahli Setia Darjah Kinabalu by the State Government over 10 years ago for his services.
And to ensure the younger generation remembers the sufferings endured by their ancestors, he had written two books in the Chinese Language, with the help of a senior journalist years
back. -

At the event, Lee Min had the chance to chat with an old friend, Huo Fung Siong’s son, Huo Chen Seng, 77.

“My father was among those who fought against the Japanese in Kampung Tenghilan inTuaran. A group of them were captured, brought here (Petagas) and shot dead.

“I always make a point to come to this ceremony; it saddens me but I feel proud that somehow, my father and his friends are appreciated till today ... Jam proud to be part of this,” he said.

Among those present at the ceremony were State Secretary Datuk Sukarti Wakiman, State Police Commissioner Datuk Noor Rashid Ibrahim, Fifth Infantry Brigade Commander Brigadier General Masrani Paiman and Mayor Datuk Iliyas Ibrahim.