Two Malaysians appointed Honorary Members of the Order of Australia
Mr Sevee Charuruks and Ms Catherin Chua will be appointed Honorary Members of the Order of Australia (AM) for their exemplary commitment to preserving the memory of Australia’s fallen soldiers who died in tragic circumstances in World War II in Sabah. They were among only 13 non-Australians to be recognised for their service to Australia.
Mr Charuruks, the caretaker and custodian of Kundasang War Memorial in Sabah, was recognised for his dedication in restoring and maintaining the memorial since 2003.
The memorial was built in 1962 to remember the 2,428 Australian and British prisoners of war, who died at the Sandakan prison camp, on the death marches, and at Ranau.
Mr Charuruks undertook the important task of restoring and rebuilding the four interlocking gardens – an Australian garden, an English rose garden, a Borneo garden and a Contemplation garden.
The memorial contains honour boards depicting the names of all those who died. With a team of 15 workers, the project took more than a year to complete in time for the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in 2005. Mr Charuruks also oversaw the building of the new Australian Memorial Hall, which opened in August 2009.
Ms Chua has been the Senior Personal Assistant to the President of Sandakan Municipal Council since February 2009. She was recognised as the prime driver of the success of the many commemorative activities conducted in Sabah in memory of Australia’s fallen soldiers.
Over the years, Ms Chua has welcomed an increasing number of Australians visiting Sandakan. She provides invaluable assistance to the Office of Australian War Graves for the annual Anzac Day Service and organises the 15 August Sandakan Day memorial service. Last year, the Australian Governor-General, Ms Quentin Bryce AC, attended the memorial service in Sandakan.
Ms Chua organises all of the arrangements, liaising with the Australian High Commission and other support personnel. She also arranges events and functions, in addition to the normal memorial services, for visiting veterans groups, their families and friends.
The Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia, Mr Miles Kupa, said he and his colleagues at the Australian High Commission were delighted at the news of Mr Charuruks and Ms Chua’s awards, which signified Australia’s gratitude to two wonderful Malaysians.