The Kedah government today apologised for what it said was a technical mistake of the use of the word wira (heroes) on a signboard of a recently-opened monument to three Japanese soldiers in the compound of the Kedah State Museum.
State Youth and Sports, Tourism, Arts and Culture, and Entrepreneurship Development Committee chairperson Mohd Asmirul Anuar Aris said he also apologised on behalf of the Kedah branch of the Malaysian Historical Society and Kedah Museums Board.
He said the mistake occurred when the company that prepared the signboard and banner for the opening of the monument translated the information provided by the Consulate of Japan.
The monument was built in 1941, before the end of World War II, and it was rehabilitated recently to preserve the historical artifact, he said.
Mohd Asmirul said that for the Japanese, their soldiers who were killed in the war are heroes but “for us they are regarded as colonialists”.
A viral message of the opening of the monument elicited criticism and the signboard was taken down yesterday evening.
In Kuala Lumpur, NGO Pertubuhan Sahabat Erat dan Amanat Rakyat Malaysia (Sedar Malaysia), called for the monument to be torn down to safeguard the sensitivities of Malaysians.
Its president, Nazrin Norani, said the deeds of the national warriors who perished to save the country from colonialists should be appreciated.
“Sedar Malaysia will oppose any action that glorifies colonialists or communists,” he told reporters after handing over a protest memorandum to the Embassy of Japan.