Malaysian Veterans visit World War Two last battle site in Singapore
A 15-member delegation from Persatuan Veteran Angkatan Tentera Malaysia (PVATM) (Veterans Association of Malaysian Armed Forces) led by its President Capt Datuk Sharuddin Bin Hj Omar (Ret), arrived in Singapore on a one-day visit on April 27, 2022.
They visited Reflections at Bukit Chandu to retrace the Battle of Pasir Panjang when the heavily-outnumbered British defenders which included the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the nascent Malay Regiment made a desperate last stand against invading Japanese forces on 14 February 1942.
President PVATM Capt Datuk Sharuddin Bin Hj Omar (Ret) said: "We have not seen each other for about two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic lock-down.
The visit was also very timely, coming close to PVATM’s centennial celebration on May 20, 2022.
We have been closely associated with SAFVL historically as we were among the first co-founders of VECONAC, which included Legiun Veteran Republik Indonesia (LVRI), Veterans Federation of The Philippines (VFP) and The War Veterans Organization of Thailand (WVOT)."
Capt Datuk Sharuddin added: "We strongly believe that there is a need to strengthen relationships from time to time under the VECONAC Interaction Program (VIP). And it is in this spirit we also welcome all VECONAC member countries to visit Malaysia."
He said: "The visit to Bukit Chandu and Pasir Panjang is a must for all Malaysian Veterans leadership, where many of our comrades lost their lives there during WWII. It is also to pay our respects, show our appreciation and recognition for their sacrifices to the nation - Honour, Sacrifice and Dignity."
Vice President SAF Veterans League (SAFVL), COL (Ret) Lau Kee Siong hosted the visit on behalf of SAFVL President BG (RET) Winston Toh. He took the visitors to the ground to retrace and appreciate the tactical defensive positions held by the defenders of the battle. This included the final position at Point 226 where C Coy of 2nd Battalion, Malay Regiment (which included Lieutenant Adnan Saidi and his valiant men) met their demise.
COL (Ret) LAU said: "Walking the battle ground and seeing how some areas dominate certain approaches, clearly showed why these positions were key terrain.
The general layout of the ground and the way the contour lines are stacked up determined how the defenders deployed and the battle was prosecuted and the eventual outcome, as recorded in the history books.
Our visitors had a great time using their old skills endemic in their years of experience as veterans and military professionals. They easily pieced together and read the battle as if it were a jigsaw puzzle in reverse."
Reflections at Bukit Chandu was closed in 2018 for major renovation works. It reopened again to the public in September 2021.
The revamped interpretative centre takes visitors on an immersive journey to remember the heroic acts of the brave soldiers of the Malay Regiment. The exhibits include an extract of a film depicting the Malay Regiment and Lieutenant Adnan Saidi on parade.
The visit by PVATM reflects the warm and excellent ties between PVATM and SAFVL.
|The newly-revamped Reflections at Bukit Chandu takes visitors on an immersive journey to remember the heroic acts of the brave soldiers of the Malay Regiment.|
A bust of Lieutenant Adnan Saidi at Reflections at Bukit Chandu.
|PVATM and SAFVL veterans at Reflections at Bukit Chandu before their departure to walk the ground to retrace the Battle of Pasir Panjang.|
|SAFVL Vice President COL (RET) Lau Kee Siong (centre with raised hand) explaining the terrain to the Malaysian veterans led by President PVATM Capt Datuk Sharuddin Bin Hj Omar (Ret) (centre in black jacket).||The visitors at Point 226, Bukit Chandu (present day Kent Ridge Park), the final battle ground for Lt Adnan Saidi and his men of the Malay Regiment on 14 Feb 1942.|
|The Malaysian veterans next to the Memorial Plaque on Kent Ridge Park to remember the history of the area during WWII.|
President PVATM PVATM Capt Datuk Sharuddin Bin Hj Omar (Ret) (left) presenting a plaque to SAFVL Vice President COL (RET) Lau Kee Siong.
SAFVL veterans get their first of two pneumococcal jabs
MAJ (RET) Lock Hong Meng and his wife Angelina were among the SAF Veterans' League (SAFVL) members and their spouses who received their first shot of the pneumococcal vaccination on April 21, 2022, at the SATA CommHealth Uttamram Medical Centre in Bedok.
Each senior has to take two jabs, the second one to be taken one year after the first.
MAJ Lock said: “We appreciate the effort of the SAFVL to organise this for us all. My wife Angelina and I decided to sign up for the vaccination after the talk on April 2.”
He added: “During her time, my mother benefited from her pneumonia jab. She enjoyed good health and was lucid till the very end. She passed on in 2015, aged 92. My wife and I were exploring getting the pneumococcal jab when SAFVL offered it through SATA CommHealth, and we signed up for it without hesitation.”
The SAFVL Healthy Lifestyle committee had organised the vaccination exercise in collaboration with SATA CommHealth following the talk by SATA CommHealth held at SAFRA Toa Payoh in early April.
SATA CommHealth provided return transportation between SAFRA Toa Payoh and the Bedok vaccination centre.
The first group at SAFRA Toa Payoh before leaving for the SATA CommHealth Uttamram Medical Centre in Bedok on April 21.
MAJ (RET) Lock Hong Meng (left) and his wife Angelina, receiving their first shot at the SATA CommHealth Uttamram Medical Centre in Bedok.
LTC (RET) Chan Seck Sung (right) with his wife Siew Siew, at the SATA CommHealth Bedok medical centre to receive their jabs.
Veterans sign up to be vaccinated against pneumonia and other infections
Thirty SAF Veterans’ League members and 11 spouses turned up for a talk by SATA CommHealth on vaccinations against pneumococcal disease including pneumonia.
Held at the SAFRA Toa Payoh on April 2, 2022, the talk was organized by the SAFVL Healthy Lifestyle committee in collaboration with SATA CommHealth.
Chairman of the committee SLTC(RET) James Suresh said: “It was encouraging to see so many of our veterans responding to the talk which almost did not take place because of earlier COVID-19 restrictions. This is our first big gathering after more than two years of COVID control measures.”
Vice President SAFVL Veterans’ League COL (RET) Lau Kee Siong, a strong advocate of general health wellness for SAFVL veterans, said: “I am not a medical professional, but I saw this write-up some time ago about the sick and aged becoming bedridden and fluid collecting in the lungs. It complicates the exchange of oxygen our body needs. As a result, the heart pumps more blood to the lungs.
The heart is just another muscle, and like all things, it can cease working if overworked.
When this happens, it may cost us our lives.”
COL Lau added: “This vaccination can prevent the bacteria from creating this situation.
Such an event happened some years ago to someone I treasure greatly. I feel strongly that if I can help encourage the vaccination, fewer people will experience the tragic pain I felt before.”
MAJ (RET) Jimmy Cheong and his wife Sharon were among the first to sign up for the pneumococcal jab after the talk.
MAJ Cheong said: “My wife and I are above 60 and we’re both retired. We think maintaining our health is important if we want to enjoy our retirement years. So, we didn’t hesitate to sign up immediately for the jab after the very informative talk.”
In fact, all 41 participants present signed up for the jab after the talk.
The speaker was Dr Tang Teck Ung from SATA CommHealth, a Registered Family Physician with more than 20 years of experience in acute, chronic and preventive care. He explained the pneumococcal disease and took the audience through the entire vaccination package.
Each senior has to take two jabs, the second one to be taken one year after the first.
They will start their first vaccination on April 21, 2022 at the SATA CommHealth Uttamram Medical Centre in Bedok. A shuttle bus will take them from SAFRA Toa Payoh to the vaccination centre, and back.
Staff from the SAFVL Secretariat will be contacting them with more details soon.
Chairman SAFVL Healthy Lifestyle Committee, SLTC (RET) James Suresh making his opening remarks.
SAFVL veterans and spouses at the talk on 2 April 2022 held at SAFRA Toa Payoh.
SATA CommHealth Dr Tang Teck Ung (right) explaining a point to a member.
MAJ (RET) Jimmy Cheong (right) and his wife Sharon, were among the first to sign up for the vaccination after the talk.
SAFVL Honorary Secretary LTC (RET) Swee Boon Chai and his wife Doreen (left) signing up for the vaccination.
SAFVL Vice President COL (RET) Lau Kee Siong (left) presenting a memento to Dr Tang Teck Ung.
SAFVL holds its annual Konfrontasi memorial ceremony on Orchard Road
“Singaporeans must never forget the history of Konfrontasi, a dark and painful chapter where many lives were hurt, damaged and lost.”
The somber reminder came from SAF Veterans’ League President Brigadier-General (RET) Winston Toh speaking at a Konfrontasi Memorial Ceremony held at Dhoby Ghaut Green opposite MacDonald House on Orchard Road on 10 March 2022.
It was to the day 57 years ago in 1965 that bombs planted by Indonesian saboteurs went off at MacDonald House in Singapore that took the lives of three persons and injured 33 others, all innocent civilians.
During Konfrontasi, soldiers from the First and Second Singapore Infantry Regiment (SIR) were deployed to the frontlines in Johor and Sabah to conduct operations against Indonesian incursions.
Nine of them laid down their lives for Singapore, and many were injured fighting the aggressors.
Standing before the Konfrontasi Memorial, BG Toh said that SAFVL had petitioned the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth in 2014 for the Memorial to mark this significant event in Singapore’s history, to remember the victims of Konfrontasi.
He added: “Those turbulent times demonstrated the high price of not having a strong defence, and not being able to protect our nation’s sovereignty.”
Referring to the recent invasion of Ukraine by Russia, BG Toh said: “(it) reminded us yet again that we should not let our guard down. That we must defend Singapore ourselves in times of crisis and we need to have a strong SAF and commitment to defence from our next generation.”
SAF veterans, the commanders of 1 SIR and 2 SIR, NCC cadets, and friends and relatives were among those who attended the annual ceremony this year.
Cab driver declines fare from SAF veteran
One was the passenger and a Navy veteran of 45 years. The other was the cab driver who completed his full-time national service in 2 SIR.
After listening to the SAF retiree’s story of his active service and continuous service as a veteran, the cab driver declined payment of the fare from the veteran when he arrived at his destination.
Grab driver, Mr Cheong, seeing SWO (RET) William Wee in his full regalia (jacket and medals), started the conversation by asking SWO (RET) William Wee about his service.
And throughout the 15-minute journey from Jellicoe Road to SAFRA Mount Faber at Telok Blangah Way, both shared about their military service.
When they reached SAFRA Mount Faber, SWO (RET) William Wee started to prepare to pay the $14.50 fare but driver Cheong declined the payment even though SWO William Wee tried many times to get the driver to accept it.
He said the driver told him: “The ride is on me. You’ve done so much for the country and continue to serve as a veteran. This is the least I can do to respect your service to the country.”
SWO (RET) William Wee was at SAFRA Mount Faber to join other SAFVL Management Committee members to attend the Veterans Confederation of ASEAN Countries (VECONAC) 33rd Executive Board Meeting and 20th General Assembly hosted virtually by Vietnam on 15 December 2021.
SWO (RET) William Wee with (from left) SAFVL Management Committee members LSW (RET) Judy Kong and LTC (RET) Bob Cheah at SAFRA Mount Faber to attend the VECONAC virtual meeting on 15 December 2021.
SAFVL pays its respects to the late LT-GEN (RET) Rais Abin of Indonesia
SAFVL joined members from the 10-nation Veterans Confederation of ASEAN Countries (VECONAC) in observing a minute of silence at the VECONAC 20th General Assembly virtual meeting on 15 December 2021 as a mark of respect for Indonesia’s LT-GEN (RET) Rais Abin, who died on 25 March 2021.
General Rais Abin was Honorary President of Legiun Veteran Republik Indonesia (LVRI), and President of VECONAC from 2010 to 2012.
In August 2018, General Abin hosted a visit by VECONAC members who called on ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi at the ASEAN headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia.
General Abin is fondly remembered for his sterling service to VECONAC as President of VECONAC from 2010 to 2012. He was highly revered as a military leader and diplomat of national and international distinction.
LT-GEN (RET) Rais Abin (front row, ninth from left) hosted the visit by VECONAC members calling on ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi (centre) in August 2018 at the ASEAN headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia. SAFVL President BG (RET) Winston Toh is fifth from right.
The SAFVL leadership and management committee members led by SAFVL President BG (RET) Winston Toh (front row, centre), joining VECONAC members in paying their respects in a one-minute silence, to the late LT-GEN (RET) Rais Abin, during the 20th General Assembly on 15 December 2021.
Thailand is VECONAC Chair in 2022
At the Veterans Confederation of ASEAN Countries (VECONAC) 20th General Assembly hosted virtually by Vietnam on 15 December 2021, Thailand was appointed VECONAC Chair for 2022.
In his acceptance speech, General Santasana Nantibhakhirund, Director-General of the War Veterans Organisation of Thailand, thanked outgoing VECONAC President Senior Lieutenant General (Retired) Nguyen Van Duoc, who is also President of Veterans Association of Vietnam, and his team, for their dedication and contribution to the success of the virtual VECONAC meetings during their tenure in 2020 and 2021.
General Santasana Nantibhakhirund added: “I hope that the situation of COVID-19 outbreak will become better very soon….so that we can see one another in-person…in the upcoming Working Committee Meeting that will be held in 2022 at Pattaya, Chonburi, in Thailand.”
SAFVL was led by its President BG (RET) Winston Toh, at the virtual meeting.
Thailand is VECONAC Chair in 2022. Incoming VECONAC President General Santasana Nantibhakhirund, who is Director-General of the War Veterans Organisation of Thailand, delivering his acceptance speech at the virtual VECONAC 20th General Assembly on 15 December 2021.
SAFVL attends virtual 2021 VECONAC Executive Board Meeting and General Assembly
The Veterans Confederation of ASEAN Countries (VECONAC) held its 33rd Executive Board Meeting and 20th General Assembly on 15 December 2021.
Conducted virtually and attended by all 10 ASEAN member countries, the meeting was hosted by Vietnam who held the VECONAC Chair for two years in 2020 and 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under normal circumstances, both meetings are held annually in the host country.
SAFVL was represented by its President BG (RET) Winston Toh, Vice President COL (RET) Lau Kee Siong, and Honorary Secretary LTC (RET) Swee Boon Chai.
Members of the SAFVL management committee and SAFRA were also present as observers.
In his closing address, outgoing VECONAC President Senior Lieutenant-General (Retired) Nguyen Van Duoc, who is also President, Veterans Association of Vietnam, said he believed the results achieved at the meeting met “the practical interests of the veterans of the 10 VECONAC member countries, contributing to peace, security and common prosperity of our region and the world.”
Thailand takes over as VECONAC Chair in 2022.
At the meeting, President SAFVL BG (RET) Winston Toh (seated front row, centre) and flanked by Vice President COL (RET) Lau Kee Siong (left), and Honorary Secretary LTC (RET) Swee Boon Chai. Seated behind them are observers from SAFRA and the SAFVL management committee.
The 10 Veterans Confederation of ASEAN Countries at the virtual 33rd Executive Board Meeting and 20th General Assembly on 15 December 2021.
SAFVL Management Committee visit to Singapore Discovery Centre, 'Through Lens of Time' Gallery.
The SAF Veterans' League Management Committee experienced one of Singapore Discovery Centre's latest Total Defence permanent galleries when they visited 'Through the Lens of Time' on 22 April 2021, as they travelled through Singapore's early history, key milestones and events. The exhibits showcases Singapore's beginnings and the tumultuous moments of past events such as the Japanese Occupation, Konfrontasi and the Sentosa Cable Car Tragedy and Rescue Mission.
A reminder not to take the peace we enjoy for granted
The ‘Konfrontasi’ Memorial Ceremony is an opportunity to remind this generation and the coming generations not to take peace for granted, said Guest-of-Honour Lieutenant-General (Retired) Winston Choo at the event held at Dhoby Ghaut Green opposite MacDonald House on Orchard Road on 10 March 2021.
LG (RET) Winston Choo, who was the first Singapore Armed Forces Chief of Defence Force from 1974 to 1992, said “standing up in the defence of our home and loved ones is the ultimate sacrifice we can give to our Nation.”
SAF Veterans’ League (SAFVL) President, Brigadier-General (Retired) Winston Toh, in his opening address, said the memorial service was to remember those who lost their lives and suffered.
It is also to honour those who fought valiantly for the survival of our nation during Konfrontasi,” he added.
Held outdoors on 10 March each year since the inaugural one in 2014, this year’s ‘Konfrontasi’ event was attended by some 50 people, with COVID-19 safe management measures in place.
The annual ceremony remembers those who lost their lives and suffered during Konfrontasi, particularly the dark day on 10 March, 1965, when a bomb planted by saboteurs at MacDonald House killed three persons and injured 33 others, all innocent civilians.
BG (RET) Winston Toh urged Singaporeans not to forget the impact of Konfrontasi. “Konfrontasi has reminded us to never take our peace and security for granted. In our ongoing fight against terrorism, there is no room for complacency. We need to strengthen our Total Defence pillars and brace ourselves to respond to an attack on our sovereignty.”
(From top left) Wreath and flowers laid at the Konfrontasi Memorial Ceremony. LG (RET) Winston Chew and BG (RET) Winston Toh giving an opening speech to never forget this fateful incident and may this be a lesson for us to remember those who have lost their lives during these times and never to take peace for granted. (From bottom left) BG (RET) Winston Toh and the SAFVL veterans who were mobilised during Konfrontasi, giving respect to the civilian victims and also soldiers who had fought and died during Konfrontasi.
Our pioneers have taught us that there is no trouble we cannot endure; no calamity we cannot overcome as a people
These were the sobering words from Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for Education, at the 54th War Memorial Service in commemoration of the civilian victims of the Japanese Occupation, and Total Defence Day Commemoration, held on 15 February 2021 at the Civilian War Memorial on Beach Road.
The theme for this year's Total Defence campaign is "Together We Keep Singapore Strong". It focuses on the many ways we can put Total Defence into action in our daily life.
Our strongest response to any challenge facing Singapore is a collective one, where we stand together as one united people, Mr Lawrence Wong said.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year's event was attended by only 50 representatives from Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCCI), MINDEF, inter-religious organisations, SAF Veterans' League, and the families of the war victims.
The annual event, co-organised by SCCCI and Central National Education Office of MINDEF (NEXUS), with SAF Veterans' League as strategic partner for the event's military proceedings, reminds us of what could happen to us if we cannot ourselves defend Singapore.
(From left) Mr Lawrence Wong and representative from SCCCI and SAFVL observe 1 minute of silence in memory of civilian victims of the Japanese Occupation. (Middle to right photo) Followed by the wreath laying ceremony at the Civilian War Memorial.
See below for the Total Defence Video.
For more details on the Civilian War Memorial event:
Lest We Forget: To remember and to honour those who have fought and died for freedom.
This year, the British High Commission, in partnership with SAF Veterans' League, organised the Virtual Remembrance Sunday Service which will be held online on Sunday, 8 Nov 2020 at 10.40am.
Watch a replay of the pre-recorded ceremony below.
SAFVL launches 30th Anniversary commemorative book
SAF Veterans’ League launched its 30th Anniversary commemorative book when SAFVL President BG (RET) Winston Toh presented a personal copy of the book to Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen at MINDEF on 7 October 2020.
Personal copies were also presented to Senior Minister of State (Defence) Mr Zaqy Mohamad who is also President of SAFRA, and Chief of Defence Force LTG Melvyn Ong.
BG(RET) Winston Toh also visited LTG(RET) Winston Choo at his residence to present a personal copy to him. Gen Choo was the SAF’s Chief of Defence Force from 1974 to 1992.
SAFVL President BG (RET) Winston Toh presenting the SAFVL book to (from left) Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen, Senior Minister of State (Defence) Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Chief of Defence Force LTG Melvyn Ong, and LTG (RET) Winston Choo.