Opinion

EDITORIAL: Ratu Epeli Sets Malaya Record Right

We congratulate former President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau for correcting a grievous wrong in a 673-page book entitled “Forgotten Wars, The End of Britain’s Asian Empire”. The former President went to
26 Oct 2017 10:59
EDITORIAL: Ratu Epeli Sets Malaya Record Right
Ratu Epeli Nailatikau

We congratulate former President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau for correcting a grievous wrong in a 673-page book entitled “Forgotten Wars, The End of Britain’s Asian Empire”.

The former President went to Malaysia as the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to launch the Back to Batu Pahat documentary on October 10.

Two renowned authors Christopher Bayly and Tim Harper according to Ratu Epeli made this derogatory reference when referring casually in a low blow passing remark about Fiji’s proud four years service to Malaysia during the Malayan Emergency:

“The askaris were poorly paid compared to the Ghurkhas and Fijian soldiers, the latter mostly volunteers from the poor lesser islands.”

When Ratu Epeli was just about to end his keynote address he said: “I just want to say this to the two authors and publicly.

“The poor lesser islands maybe! Just remember that Fiji may be a small developing country – but it is a proud developing country that has always punched brilliantly above its weight.

“Like in the First and Second World Wars, during the Malayan Emergency and afterwards – and particularly in the many peacekeeping missions around the world since: Lebanon, Sinai, the Golan Heights and Timor Leste to name but a few – when Fiji is called on to do its duty, Fiji has always delivered.”

During the four years of Fijian involvement in the Malaya Emergency, from 1952 to 1956, some 1600 Fijian troops had served there.

The first to arrive were the 1st Battalion, Fiji Infantry Regiment. Ratu Epeli’s late father Ratu Sir Edward Cakobau, was commander of the Fijian Battalion.

Twenty-five Fijian troops died in combat in Malaya.

When the call had come to Fiji to be part of the Malayan Emergency, recruitment was made in all provinces where many volunteered to go to Malaya.

Fijians covered themselves in medals once again – two Officer of the Order of the British Empire, one Member of the Order of British Empire, one British Empire medal, two Distinguished Medals, five Military Medals and 24 mentions in Despatches.

At that time Fijian men’s absence from their villages had cost Fijian people valuable productive time.

When they returned to their villages they were accorded the welcome of heroes returning from the fields of war.

It is a fact that Fiji had contributed to the development of Malaysia.

Malaysia and Fiji have signed bilateral agreements in the aviation, education, finance and the health sectors to name a few, and this will soon spread to the agriculture, fisheries, tourism and the cultural sectors.

Fiji and Malaysia continue to enjoy a deep, friendly, and mutually beneficial relationship.

According to Ratu Epeli close ties took years of hard work and mutual trust building.

For Fiji, it all started from the hard work of our gallant soldiers in Batu Pahat in the days of the Emergency. “And this has spread to the engagement of our soldiers in peacekeeping missions in other parts of the world. More than anything, their sacrifice is for the greater good of humanity.”

Fijian soldiers fought for something greater than themselves: the pursuit of peace, freedom and security seen today in modern Malaysia.



Five Square diwali dhamaka 2021


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