Tanah Tumpah Darah

Marker at the entrance of Bukit Chandu memorial

Second Lieutenant Adnan Bin Saidi.

Lieutenant Abdullah Bin Saad.

Lieutenant Ariffin Bin Haji Sulaiman.

Lieutenant Ibrahim Bin Sidek.

Lieutenant Abdul Wahid Bin Mat Kidam.

These are just some of the names that no one knows, who fought, bled and died for this land. These are the officers of the Malay Regiment. These are the anak watan who lived a short life, but left a great legacy. These are the men who lost their lives, so that we could gain our freedom.

The irony of it all, is that these brave men, pre-independence, gave up their lives for a country that has yet to exist. Yet, our country built a memorial for these men, so that we may remember all that they have given up, so that we could live.

Our citizens though have seem to forgotten the deeds of these men. The valiant few who stood tall in the face of danger, who fought to death to uphold honour and spilt their blood for the land they called home, even though Singapore was home for only a few months.

The British had decided that their stand would be at Singapore. That anything defensible was only at Singapore. They posted the Malay Regiment to Pasir Panjang, Singapore, and that was home for the next few months awaiting the arrival of the Japs.

What these men defended was more than land. It was the land of their fathers, and the land of their fathers' fathers. This was a land of a mystical past, and an optimistic future. This, Singapore (and the rest of the Malay peninsula), was where they belong, and they would not allow another colonialist to take it away from them.

Pepys Road off Pasir Panjang Road

Our country is young. The concept of a national identity is still forming. There is some idea of what it means, and how much a difference it is between being a Singapore citizen and being a Malaysian, and Indian or a Chinese citizen. But if you look into the past, regardless of where our forefathers came from, all of them defended this "foreign land" against the invaders.

Whether it is the Malay Regiment, the Indian Regiment or Force 136, all of them spilt blood for this land, and you cannot take it away from them. It is obliged upon us that we remember these names, and honour them, because our citizenship owes them our respects.

Kastam Malaysia Quarters

When you walk up Pepys Road, up Bukit Chandu, reminisce how this land we call home was once a part of our neighbour's. We will always be reminded of it. Part of our land is still owned by our neighbour, and they left remnants of pre-65 behind. We must always remember, that no matter how different we are from the Malaysians, no matter what race, our neighbour is our brother. We divided only because of political differences. Only because a few men in politics had differing views. There are many of us, whether they be Malay, Chinese or Indian, have relatives up north. When I served in the army, my Indian seargeant-major, a regular, was born in Johor. My Indian warrant officer, was born in Selangor. They spoke perfect Malay. Yet they served the Singapore army.

I have Chinese friends, Singapore PRs, who were born in KL, Malacca or Selangor. Yet despite their blue ICs, their allegiance was to Malaysia. It was evident where their loyalties lied when I'd bring them to Singapore-Malaysia football matches. They bunched up with their Singapore friends, whom they've lived with for years. But their shirts reflected the Merah, Putih, Biru, Kuning. It was to the "Negaraku", they'd sing and chorused.

It is more important today, that we Singaporeans realise that we are not much different than our Malaysian brothers. We share a common heritage, a common past, and common heroes. The only thing different is our political ideology, and what we stand for in this land we call home.

In order to understand Singapore, we must also understand Malaysia. We are who we are, because of our brothers. Our Singaporean-ness can sometimes be described by how un-Malaysian we are. Yet in the same meaning, it can also be how Malaysian we are.

We both confer the Durian as the King of fruits and we both love our Nasi Lemak and Nasi Ayam. We both use "lah" in our daily conversations, and we both strive for a more harmonious multi-racial country.

Our Fallen Heroes

Sweating from the climb up Bukit Chandu, read every name on the roll-of-honour. Every single soldier who fell, fighting for this land, who formed the last stand of Singapore. From the lieutenants to the drummer, each one of them boots to helmet, dug in along that ridge, and gave everything for the freedom we enjoy. Some of them, like Lieutenant Adnan, mutilated, decapitated, refusing to remove their uniforms. Refusing to die without honour.

Ta'at Setia. Each soldier echoed their pledge to the regiment, to their land. Ammo was short. Fix bayonets! Fight to the death. Honour before death. And we... we call ourselves patriots? We call ourselves proud Singaporeans?

Pertempuran di Pasir Panjang

(End of Part 1)

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