Greetings to YB Minister of Transport and President of MCA, Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong, YB Deputy Minister of Education and Deputy President of MCA, Dato Dr Mah Hang Soon, His Excellency Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China in Malaysia, Ouyang Yujing, Honourable Member of Parliament for Segambut YB Hannah Yeoh, President of the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH), Datuk Ong Seng Khek, Honourable guests and friends, welcome!
My name is Ngan Teng Ye, Chairman of the Nanyang Truck Drivers and Mechanics War Heroes (Nanqiao Jigong) Memorial Committee.
The July 7th Memorial Ceremony is once again organised by KLSCAH after more than 50 years later. Originally to be held at the Kwong Tong Cemetery, we decided to pay our respects with an online event because of the ongoing pandemic.
July 7th is a date that carries historical importance for today’s public memorial ceremony. It marked the beginning of war and aggression of Japanese fascists against China and this region. Appointed by the Selangor Ancestral Chinese Relief Committee, the public memorial service is entrusted to our committee to serve and honour the sacrifices of these Nanyang war heroes.
It all started on July 7, 1937, when Japan officially decreed a full-scale war against China. In response, China opened up China-Burma Road – for transportation of military supplies – and contacted the South East Asia Federation of the China Relief Fund, led by the late Mr Tan Kah Kee. On February 8, 1939, advertisements called for volunteers – to join the resistance – distributed throughout newspapers of Malaya-Singapore. At that time, the Nanyang volunteers were divided into nine batches. A total of 3,193 brave volunteers, including 4 female heroines, travelled to China to transport military vehicles. These people are the Nanyang Truck Driver and Mechanic War Heroes (Nanqiao Jigong).
On data alone, more than a thousand drivers and mechanics have died during this war.
In 1947, in tribute to these war heroes’ sacrifices in the resistance against Japan, the Relief Committee set up the “Selangor Nanyang Truck Drivers and Mechanics World War II Monument – in remembrance of the martyred Nanqiao Jigong war heroes.
In 1952, the Relief Committee decided to entrust the funds for the Nanqiao Jigong memorial ceremony to KLSCAH (formerly the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall). Since then, the duty to conduct the July 7th memorial events are entrusted into the hands of KLSCAH every year.
The sacrifices of Nanqiao Jigong must not be erased from the history of resistance against Japanese war fascism. These war heroes are also a reflection of the hard times faced by the people in Malaya and this region.
In 1969, when it was a difficult period for our country, Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall had to put a stop to the memorial services of Nanqiao Jigong.
As Japan announced its unconditional surrender on August 15, 1945, and after many many discussions, KLSCAH decided to uphold the responsibilities entrusted by the Relief Committee and resume the Nanqiao Jigong memorial this year.
The theme of this memorial service – Anti-Fascist War, Sustain World Peace – aims to promote the spirit of peace and anti-war. Since the July 7th incident in 1937, Japan has launched a series of attacks. On December 8, 1941, the “Pacific War” broke out. The war spread from mainland China to Southeast Asia, including Malaya and Singapore. All were affected by the invasion of Japanese fascists. Until Japan announced its unconditional surrender in 1945, Japan occupied Malaya for three years and eight months.
During the Second World War, Japan carried out various levels of massacres in its occupied areas. The people of the Malay Peninsula were also brutally tortured and massacred during the occupation.
Today, 75 years have passed. We should remember the lessons of these two world wars: to oppose fascism and any form of war, cherish and seek peace.
Today’s peace is hard-won, and it is all because of the bloody battles that our ancestors have defended to their deaths. The fascism that emerged during World War II has caused people around the world to suffer greatly. Although we live in an age of peace, we should not forget history and the efforts of our ancestors. Thank you.