Boat people condemn loss of monument
Leaders of the Vietnamese community in Melbourne have expressed anger and disbelief that a monument has been removed at the request of the Vietnamese Government.
The monuments were erected as a symbol of the refugees' gratitude to their rescuers in Malaysia. The Vietnamese community in Melbourne said the monument on Bidong "honours the humanity and the compassion of the Malaysian people towards their fellow human beings in time of need".
The president of the Archive of Vietnamese Boat People, Dong Tran, called on Australians to join the group's condemnation of the Vietnamese Government's "callous acts of cruelty towards the deceased refugees. We call on the Malaysian Government not to give in to the demands of the Vietnamese communists to destroy the monument, which the Malaysian people should be proud of."
Mr Tran said the monuments "preserved the physical remnants of a major tragedy in human history. The fact that the Vietnamese Communists go out of their way to put pressure on the Malaysian Government to erase history . . . is damning evidence of their inhumane nature."
The engraving on the Bidong monument reads:
"In appreciation of the efforts of UNHCR,the RedCross and Malaysian Red Crescent Society and other world relief organizations. The Malaysian Goverment and people as well as all countries of first asylum and resettlement. We also express out gratitude to the thousands of individuals who worked hard in helping the Vietnamese refugees. - OVERSEAS VIETNAMESE COMMUNITIES 2005.
The reverse side of the plaque read:
"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. Their sacrifices will not be forgotten. - OVERSEAS VIETNAMESE COMMUNITIES 2005."