|Australian Garden||English Garden||Borneo Garden||Contemplation Garden|
Kundasang War Memorial and Gardens
The fort-like Memorial was designed by J.C. Robinson, a local architect. It has four interlocking but separate gardens to represent the homelands of those who died:
1) Australian Garden,
2) English Garden of roses,
3) Borneo Garden with wild flowers of Kinabalu
4) 'Contemplation Garden' with a reflection pool and pergola.
The Kundasang War Memorial commemorates the British and Australian soldiers who perished in the Sandakan Death March during the Second World War.
Horrendous memory of the event contrasts strongly with the 4 peaceful gardens, carpeted with a blissfully ignorant sea of green grass and colorful flowers, hedged in by imposing stone walls.
messages and poetry, inscribed on stone plaques erected by
survivors and families of victims, emanate with the powerful
feelings of loss and longing arising from this tragedy.
It was in 1962 that the building of the Kundasang War Memorial was commissioned (along with the opening of Kinabalu Park) by Major Carter, a Kiwi employed with an oil company, to remember the events associated with the Sandakan Death March. Between 1942-1943, 2,400 Allied soldiers were captured by Japanese forces (mostly in the Battle of Singapore) and sent to work on an airstrip in Sandakan together with forced labor comprising 3,600 Javan civilians.
Living conditions were harrowing and the prisoners suffered terrible losses among their ranks from disease, malnourishment and summary executions by their captors.
In 1945, towards the end of
the war, the Japanese forced what remained of their
prisoners (about 1,900 people) on a series of marches
towards Ranau from Sandakan.
Three of them lived long enough after the war to give their testimonies at war crime trials and punish those responsible. When the war memorial was completed in 1970, it too fell into disarray over time because of neglect.
It was not until Sevee Charuruks, a Thai-born retiree came visiting that he saw, and was appalled at its condition.
Taking on the
responsibilities of a caretaker, he restored and embellished
the war memorial with money from his own pocket and funding
from various sources, including Australian authorities.
The gardens are incredibly well-kept and planted with roses, orchids and hibiscus flowers but please don't pick any of them. Tickets are priced at MYR2 for Malaysians while international travelers pay MYR10 per person.
It's a quick walking distance from the vegetable market in Kundasang, just down the road towards Mesilau.
The war memorial is certainly worth the visit, not just for appreciating the beauty of its landscape and architecture, but also for honoring the fallen soldiers and brave people of Borneo in our hearts.
INDEX : Kota Kinabalu April 04, 2013 07:58:43 AM