VC destroyed Boat People Memorial

in Pulau Bidong

 

Links: Boat People

April 30th and the Boat People

The Price They Paid For Freedom

 

 

 

 

The Memorial was unveiled March 2005

 

The front reads: “In commemoration of the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese people who perished on the way to freedom (1975-1996). Though they died of hunger or thirst, of being raped, of exhaustion or of any other cause, we pray that they may now enjoy lasting peace."

Overseas Vietnamese Communities, 2005

The back reads: “In appreciation of the efforts of UNHCR, the Red Cross and Indonesian Red Crescent Society and other world relief organizations, the Indonesian Government and people as well as all countries of first asylum and resettlement. We also express our gratitude to the thousands of individuals who worked hard in helping the Vietnamese refugees.”

Overseas Vietnamese Communities, 2005

 

The Memorial has been demolished (June 2005)

 

Bill Laurie's note: Recall Orwell's dictum: "He who controls the past controls the future; he who controls the present controls the past."  Here is another example of Hanoi's efforts to perform historical lobotomy on an already grossly ill-informed world.  Wipe out the memory...and the Boat People don't exist!!  Never did!!  Make no mistake about it, Hanoi is still waging a major-league industrial strength propaganda war.

 

The islands of Pulau Bidong (Malaysia) and Galang (Indonesia) are sites of 2 of the largest refugee camps for Vietnamese boatpeople who escaped Vietnam the South fell to the communists. From 1975 to about 1996, more than 500,000 boatpeople reportedly stayed at these camps while an estimated 800,000 perished in the high seas.

 

In March 2005, 150 former boatpeople returned to these 2 islands to pay homage to the camps and to pray for those who lost their lives in their quest for freedom. This historical trip was spearheaded by the office of the Archive of Vietnamese Boat People (Australia) and sanctioned by the federal and local governments of both Malaysia and Indonesia. At each of these camps, a Memorial was erected to commemorate those who lost their lives and to thank those who extended a helping hand during this dark chapter of history.

 

The front of each of the Memorials reads: “In commemoration of the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese people who perished on the way to Freedom (1975-1996). Though they died of hunger or thirst, of being raped, of exhaustion or of any other cause, we pray that the may now enjoy lasting peace. Their sacrifice will never be forgotten. Overseas Vietnamese Communities, 2005.”

 

The back of the Memorial at Pulau Bidong reads: “In appreciation of the efforts of the UNHCR, the Red Cross and Malaysian Red Crescent Society and other world relief organizations, the Malaysian Government and people as well as all countries of first asylum and resettlement. We also express our gratitude to the thousands of individuals who worked hard in helping the Vietnamese refugees. Overseas Vietnamese Communities, 2005.”

 

The back of the Memorial at Galang reads: “In appreciation of the efforts of the UNHCR, the Red Cross and Indonesian Red Crescent Society and other world relief organizations, the Indonesian Government and people as well as all countries of first asylum and resettlement. We also express our gratitude to the thousands of individuals who worked hard in helping the Vietnamese refugees. Overseas Vietnamese Communities, 2005.”

 

The touching ceremonies to dedicate the Memorials at the camps were witnessed by officials of the respective government and received tremendous press coverage – both local and international.

 

Yet, in June 2005, a mere 3 months thereafter, it was reported that the Vietnamese communist government pressured the governments of Malaysia and Indonesia to demolish the Memorials. It was learned that the Malaysian Foreign Affairs Ministry had ordered to local government of Terengganu (to which the island of Pulau Bidong belongs) to tear the Memorial down. Immediately, overseas Vietnamese worldwide protested with phone calls, letters, emails, etc., and the order has not been carried out. It was then learned that the Memorial at Galang (Indonesia) had already been destroyed, without any notice, right before the President of Indonesia visited Vietnam.

 

On June 17, 2005, the Consulate General of Malaysia in Los Angeles (California, USA) stated that his consulate had no information on the demolition and was still waiting for “advice” from the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia).

 

On June 17, 2005, Kathleen Nguyen of Little Saigon Radio and Viet Tide Newspapers (California, USA), a recipient of President Bush’s Presidential Service Award for, among other projects, helping raised about 1 million US dollars from Vietnamese American communities towards the tsunami relief efforts, wrote to the President of Indonesia, requesting for the reasons to demolish the Memorial. On June 20, 2005, Mr. Fadli of the Jakarta Post wrote an article about the circumstances surrounding the demolition of the Memorial

 

(http://www.thejakartapost.com/detailnational.asp?fileid=20050620.D07&irec=6) and was immediately harassed and may lose his job.

 

Other relevant articles may be found below

 

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2005/6/17/nation/11239933&sec=nation

http://asia.news.yahoo.com/050615/ap/d8anolo00.html

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2005/6/15/nation/11224959&sec=nation

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/4094370.stm

http://www.littlesaigonradio.com/new/usnews.asp

 

 

* * * * *   sample letter to send to the Minister of Foreign Affairs - Malaysia   * * * * *

 

June , 2005

 

The Honorable YB DATO' SERI SYED HAMID ALBAR

Minister of Foreign Affairs - Malaysia

Wisma Putra

No 1 Jalan Wisma Putra

Precint 2

62602 Putrajaya

Malaysia

 

Telephone No.: 011 (603) 8887-4000

Facsimile No.: 011 (603) 8889-1717 or (603) 8889-2816

 

Re: The Memorial at Pulau Bidong, Terengganu

 

Dear Mr. Minister:

 

We are shocked to learn of your decision to demolish the memorial recently erected at Pulau Bidong, the former refugee camp, to commemorate the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese boat people who perished in their quest for freedom as well as to thank the Malaysian people, the Malaysian Red Crescent Society and the Malaysian government for extending a helping hand in their hour of need.

 

In one simple act, this decision erases the ultimate sacrifice of people for freedom, and, thus, the sacred significance of freedom itself. This decision is wrong and must be reversed.

Further, this decision is a direct attack at freedom loving people, especially former Vietnamese refugees worldwide, and most particularly more than 250 thousand Vietnamese boat people spending time in Pulau Bidong, who have contributed greatly to make the world a better place in which to live. This decision is wrong and must be reversed.

 

Overseas Vietnamese communities worldwide have always acknowledged the much needed help from the Malaysian people and government. Overseas Vietnamese communities worldwide showed that gratitude by helping in every which way, including donating millions of US dollars to the tsunami relief efforts. Overseas Vietnamese communities worldwide consider Pulau Bidong a sacred place worthy of visit and the memorial the ultimate expression of freedom. The decision to demolish this memorial is wrong and must be reversed.

 

We respectfully urge you to reverse the decision to demolish the memorial so that freedom may be forever respected as well as the sacrifice of the Vietnamese boatpeople and the help of the Malaysian people may be forever remembered.

 

Very truly yours,

 

* * * * *   sample letter to send to the Minister of Foreign Affairs - Malaysia   * * * * *

 

 

 


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