A former Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) officer said today it is not appropriate for the Kedah government to honour the dead Japanese soldiers nor to regard them as heroes.
Capt Abdul Rahmat Omar joins the chorus of disapproving voices over the inscription of the word “Wira” (hero) on the signboard at a restored monument commemorating three Japanese soldiers in Alor Setar that was recently unveiled by the state government.
A viral message of the opening of the monument sparked criticisms from Malaysians who took to the social media to speak up against what they deemed to be Kedah’s contentious decision to honour these soldiers as heroes.
“They were not here to liberate Malaya, but to have a firm grip on its natural resources to expand its war efforts,” Abdul Rahmat said when asked to comment on the issue.
He pointed out that Alor Star fell to the Japanese on Dec 13 1942, five days after the landings in Kota Bharu (Kelantan).
This resulted in two things, he added.
“One – the withdrawal of British troops to Gurn and, two – the indiscriminate bombing by Japanese aircraft of Georgetown that killed 2,000 civilians because the British fighter planes in Kepala Batas, Alor Star had been destroyed.”
Nevertheless, according to a few news reports yesterday, Kedah tourism executive councilor Mohd Asmirul Anuar Aris has responded to the controversy by issuing an apology over what seemed to be an “error in translation.”
The error occurred when a Japanese officer from the Consulate-General of Japan tried to communicate with a local contractor in Kedah, Asmirul was quoted to have said.
Asmirul further stated that the Kedah government will have the signboard replaced and the word “Wira” amended as a way to compensate for their so-called “honest mistake.”
He had reportedly explained that for the Japanese, their soldiers who were killed in the war are heroes but “for us they are regarded as colonialists.”
(This article was first published by The Mole on 26 March 2019)