Previously – Part 14
“Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind” – John F. Kennedy
What John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States who was assassinated on 22nd November 1963, said was right. War is not the answer to everything. War causes more misery than glory. Just like what Sun Tzu said, “All war is deception” and Ernest Hemingway who said that “Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime“. And today, after visited the Desa Dairy Farm, on Dayang’s recommendation, we visited the Kundasang War Memorial, situated in Kundasang, Sabah.
After we descended from the Farm, Dayang suggested that we visit this war memorial. Akmal and I had no idea what this war memorial is all about, but as there were still some time, we decided to pay a visit. We parked our car at the designated car park and climbed the stairs into the war memorial.
Halfway climbing the stairs, a guy stopped us and collected the entrance fees from us. The entrance fee is used to maintain the place because the place was neglected before and in 2005, Mr Sevee Charuruks, a local and history enthusiasts, used his personal funds to maintain the place before the Australian government came to help in the form of several grants.
The first thing that we saw when we entered the memorial was this big framed map, showing the trail that the Australian POW had to endure during war time. It was indeed a long and tortured walk. I couldn’t imagine the feeling of the POW when they had to do that back then. I am sure that a lot of things were playing in their mind, especially the family, their homeland. Here they were, suffering in a foreign land, fighting an alien fight.
This memorial was actually built to commemorate the 2,428 Australian and British prisoners of war who sacrificed themselves during World War II. Most of them died at the Sandakan POW Camp. It also commemorate the casualties of the three infamous forced death marches from Sandakan to Ranau as well as a tribute to the locals who risked their lives too, aiding the prisoners of war. From a lot of soldiers who marched during the World War II here, only six Australians survived and there were no English survivors.
After reading, looking and watching some historical stuff at the covered area, we ventured out to see the gardens. There are four interlocking but separate gardens here at the Kundasang War Memorial namely the Australian Garden, English Garden, Borneo Garden and the ‘Contemplation Garden’ with a reflection pool and pergola.
The English Garden is full of roses while the Borneo Garden has a wide array of wild flowers of Kinabalu.
There are a lot of encouragement words and plates at the respective gardens, to reflect ourselves of the sacrifice of the soldiers during World War II. The gardens are beautiful and bright with colours, a total opposite with the gloomy feelings we had upon reading the history of the POW.
When we entered the Contemplation Garden, it really made us contemplate. Why? Because there are long lists of soldiers died and I wondered, was it worth it?
“Was it worth it to fight and become POW due to war? Why entered into a war? Who started it? What was the purpose? How about their family?”
A lot of questions were playing in my mind but due to the scorching sun, I cut short my contemplation and went to a balcony area instead. The balcony offered the view of Kundasang valley with all the houses around.
I felt so calm, so peaceful, overlooking the valley. So quiet and only the chirping sound of birds accompanied us there.
“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it” – Eleanor Roosevelt
To go to Kundasang War Memorial, upon reaching the Kundasang town, enter the town and the War Memorial is on the right side, on a hillside behind the row of shop houses. If coming from Desa Dairy Farm, it will be on the left side, upon reaching the town. The fee to enter the Memorial is RM 2 for MyKAD holders and RM 10 for foreigners, as of July 2013.