Japanese Occupation survivors recount their tales to the new generation
Most of Southeast Asia was occupied during most of World War II by the Japanese. The Japanese captured Southeast Asia very quickly but had not planned very well for occupying it. In many ways the Japanese ruled through violence and repression rather than reasonable and humane governing. Southeast Asians that might have welcomed them as liberators were quickly turned off by Japanese brutality
PETALING JAYA: It has been 70 years since Japan’s surrender after its occupation of Malaya during World War II, and with each passing year, more stories are being lost due to death and old age.
R.AGE, an online video documentary team, is hoping to change that with the launch of The Last Survivors (rage.com.my/lastsurvivors), an online video campaign to document the stories of Malaysia’s WWII survivors.
The first video will be released later today, the 70th anniversary of the final signing ceremony in Kuala Lumpur confirming Japan’s surrender.
The video shows Omar Senik, 85, revisiting Pantai Sabak, Kelantan where he witnessed the start of WWII in Asia when the Japanese landed in Malaya – an hour before the bombing of Pearl Harbour.
Another WWII survivor featured in the series is Etheline Lee, who was 13 when the Japanese arrived in Kuantan.
Lee recalled how she was forced to watch the execution of locals accused by the Japanese of being “traitors”.
“They made them walk into this jungle and stand near a big hole they had dug, and shot them one by one so their bodies would drop into the hole,” said Lee.
According to her, the bodies were buried at the beach now known as Teluk Cempedak. Some were buried right beneath the beach’s popular fast-food outlets.
“It’s important to document stories like these,” said Chen Yih Wen, one of the R.AGE producers working on the series. “They really are the last survivors, and it isn’t enough to read about what they went through, you have to see it with your own eyes because these are places we walk by every day.”
The Last Survivors campaign also hopes to encourage young people to document WWII stories from their own communities, especially through the memories of survivors.
To participate, record a video interview with a WWII survivor, and e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The campaign website features an interactive map which will show the exact locations of all the survivors’ stories, so that anyone can visit them and add to the narrative.
To add a story, photo or video to the map, go to rage.com.my/lastsurvivors or e-mail email@example.com.
> Know any World War II survivors with interesting stories to share of the war in Malaya? E-mail the R.AGE team at firstname.lastname@example.org .http://rage.com.my/lastsurvivors/
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