Kundasang War Memorial – called “Tugu Peringatan Perang Kundasang” in Malay language – is dedicated to the 2,428 British and Australian soldiers who died as Prisoners Of War camp during the infamous death marches from Sandakan to Ranau at the hands of the Japanese. To be noted that only 6 Australian (and no British) survived the horror to tell their tales. The memorial also stands to recognize the suffering and sacrifice of the native population of Sabah, several of whom risked their lives to help the prisoners of war.
Kundasang War Memorial was found by Major G.S. Carter DSO, a New Zealand World War II veteran and employee of the Shell Oil Co in Borneo, who after lobbying and fund-raising as well as support from pressure exerted on the British and Australian governments, initiated the building in 1962, to coincide with the launching of Kinabalu Park. The fort-like design is by J.C. Robinson, a local architect. Kundasang War Memorial was built on a small, pine-tree-clad hill.
The place is divided into four interlocking but separate gardens areas that are over four levels connected by small trails: the Australian garden, the English Rose Garden, the Borneo Garden and the Contemplation Garden, with its reflecting pool and its pagoda. Each garden has a different choice of plants and landscapes; for instance the Australian garden contains green fields, while the English Rose Garden contains pink roses in every corner, hence the name, and the Borneo Garden boasts wild flowers of Kinabalu.
These gardens represent the homelands of those who died, and the magnificent war memorial welcomes all visitors, both those who come to see the gardens and those who come to remember those who sacrificed their lives for the freedom of others.
In the years, Kundasang War Memorial suffered years of neglect exacerbated by acts of vandalism and, despite funds injections by the Sabah government in 1995, by 2003 it had been reduced to a virtual ruin.
It was in 2005, in occasion of the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, that a Mr Sevee Charuruks of Kota Kinabalu made his own personal funds available for a major restoration project, that he considered a private retirement project, going as far as mounting a full Roll of Honour with the names of all those who died at Sandakan, which shows details including age, date and place of death, and original place of burial inscribed in gold on highly polished, black granite slabs. Mr. Sevee Chararuks, a native Thai pensioner, was awarded an MBE, an Imperial Award, by the British government and an honorary award (AM) under the Order of Australia by the Australian government in recognition of his efforts.
Kundasang War Memorial is located in Kundasang, on a hill on the slopes of Mount Kinabalu, immediately behind the vegetable wholesale stalls. It is a 10 minutes drive away from Kinabalu National Park and about a two-hour drive from Kota Kinabalu. It is open daily from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm, with admission fees at RM 2 for Malaysians and RM 10 for foreigners.
Further information, click on http://www.sabahtourism.com/destination/kundasang-war-memorial