Thursday, 19 November 2009

Op Ngerapuh is Back on Track

Op Ngerapuh is Back on Track After 6 months of inactivity and not knowing whether the project is on or has been derailed, I finally received the good news on 10 November 2009. A 15.4 acres site at Kota Sentosa near Penrissen Camp has been identified. On 20 November 2009, I made a press release through the States' Borneo Post:

Kota Sentosa 15-acre site for heroes

With monument and cemetery plot identified, remains of rangers and trackers set to return home

KUCHING: The dream of bringing home the remains of Sarawak Rangers and trackers who were killed in the peninsula and Singapore during the Emergency is now a step closer to realisation with their final resting place identified.‘Ops Ngerapuh’ organising chairman Lt Col (Rtd) Robert Rizal Abdullah announced yesterday that Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) chairman Datuk Talib Zulpilip had helped to locate a piece of land for the Heroes’ Monument and the cemetery near Kota Sentosa.

“A 15.4-acre state land has been identified by the Land and Survey Department as the site for the Heroes’ Monument where the remains of the Iban trackers and Sarawak Rangers killed and buried in Semenanjung and Singapore during the First Malayan Emergency will be relocated to,” he said in a press statement yesterday. Robert said according to Talib, who played an important role in helping the committee realise the plan, “the next phase is to get it officially approved and alienated to SEDC for that purpose”.

“The proposed design and layout has also been made. It will have to go through the committee before it is approved,” said Robert.

He said a fund-raising campaign would be launched and he hoped the states where they had given their lives to would also contribute to the fund.

Any remaining balance from the fund would be used to improve the welfare of trackers and members of the Sarawak Rangers still alive today, said Robert.

He said part of the fund-raising effort was the sale of multi-coloured T-shirts now in progress. According to him, a percentage of the sale would go to ‘Ops Ngerapuh’ Fund. Those who wish to make orders can call Lian Hun at 016-8950203.

Robert was inspired to organise the return of the dead Sarawak Rangers and trackers by the late Lance Corporal Ungkok Jugam, a Sarawak Ranger whose grave was found on a patch of green on a road shoulder in Jalan Langgar, Alor Setar last year.

Ungkok, who is from Lubok Antu, had served at the height of the first emergency in Malaya from 1948 to 1960. He was reburied in a more dignified grave at St Michael’s Catholic Church at Jalan Sultanah on April 28, 2009.

Since learning of Ungkok’s case, Robert had tracked down 21 Sarawak Rangers and trackers, including one border scout. They are buried at Batu Gajah Christian Cemetery, Cheras Road Cemetery, Kamunting Road Christian Cemetery, Batu Gajah Christian Cemetery and Kranji Military Cemetery in Singapore.

Robert’s plan had received the support of the state’s leaders, including Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang.

Proposed Layout of the Heroes' Monument