Besides language barriers and ideological animosity during the Cold War, the wartime division of areas of responsibility between the British in Malaya and Singapore, and the United States and Australia in Sabah and Sarawak also resulted in different historical experiences of the Malaysian resistance in the Pacific War.

Historian Chen Jian and his fellow historians are now working on Sabah and Sarawak attempting to reconstruct a larger national narrative.

Q: A dignified monument was finally erected in Kuala Lumpur in 2003 by private funding to the honour and memory of the 18 CPM leaders and MPAJA commanders who sacrificed their lives in the Battle of Batu Caves on Sept 1, 1941. Why did it take such long time to do what is only reasonable, proper and appropriate by the standard of other countries treating their war dead and heroes?

A: The origin monument of the 18 Martyrs was erected in 1946 at the site of the Japanese Batu Cave Massacre which was known as the Sept 1st Incidence or the Batu Cave Incidence. It happened in Sept 1, 1942. It was erected by the Association of the Ex-Comrades of MPAJA after the Japanese surrendered.

The original site was lost to development in 1999. A group of volunteers then got together in proposing a new monument to be erected at new sites. It had taken some years for looking for suitable site and campaigning for funding for the project. Eventually, The Xiao-En Yuan Memorial Park in Nilai kindly donated a piece of land for the project. Thus, a new site was secured and the new monument had been erected and officially declared open in Dec 7, 2003.

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