Celebrate end of Japanese Occupation in a memorable way

Sept 12 marks the 70th anniversary of the official end of the Japanese Occupation of South-east Asia, including Singapore. How will Singapore commemorate it?

The Battle of Singapore lasted seven days, and the fall of the country on Feb 15, 1942, saw the largest surrender of British-led military personnel in history, with about 85,000 British, Indian and Australian troops becoming prisoners of war. Thousands died protecting our land and are buried at the Kranji War Cemetery.

The three and a half years of occupation were a period of great darkness. The Sook Ching Massacre claimed the lives of between 25,000 and 50,000 ethnic Chinese in Singapore and Malaya. Other ethnic groups were not spared either. Basic necessities were scarce. My grandmother said sweet potatoes featured a lot in her diet then. When asked to describe more, she would only repeat: "Life was sad. Life was hard."

The end of war saw the formal signing of the surrender instrument at City Hall, on Sept 12, which was accepted by Lord Mountbatten. This was followed by a celebration at the Padang, which included a victory parade.

Britain just marked the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day (VE Day) with a number of well-publicised events, including a military parade, a fly-past of World War II aircraft and a concert with musical and dance acts influenced by the era ("Remembering the war dead"; May 11).

I was at St James' Park, and it was emotional to see veterans, men and women alike, being cheered by the crowd as they walked past, dressed in their uniforms and wearing their medals with pride. Shouts of "thank you" filled the air.

I hope that the authorities here will also plan a memorable nationwide ceremony on Sept 12, with invitations sent out to Allied forces veterans and to pioneers, like my grandmother, who survived the war.

For most of us who read of the war only from school textbooks, it would be good if MediaCorp could broadcast WWII video clips and interviews with veterans and pioneers.

Finally, a parade from City Hall to the Civilian War Memorial would be apt, for the nation to say "thank you" to these veterans, remember those who perished in the war and, at the same time, show appreciation to the current armed and civil defence forces which help to protect our homeland.

Ng Wee Chew (Ms)