We remember the forgotten conflicts

22:52, Apr 25 2013
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They fought in two of the most decisive victories of the past half-century.

They are veterans who make up a large proportion of those who line up at Anzac services, but the memory of what they did has largely been lost in Asian jungles.

Ask where the West fought communism during the Cold War and few people think of Malaya and fewer still name Borneo.

At the time the public was told almost nothing. Intervening years have meant the conflicts have become almost forgotten.

Today and tomorrow, The Southland Times looks at the impact of both conflicts on southern veterans who each completed two-year tours of duty in the jungle.

The Malayan Emergency and Borneo Confrontation form the backbone of our coverage this year, and both in these pages and online at southlandtimes.co.nz we present a comprehensive look at conflicts overshadowed by the Korean and Vietnam wars.


With a little coaxing, the veterans spoke of the time they served. They opened their photo albums, told their stories and spoke of their disappointment in both successive governments and the public at large.

Recognition in the form of an official medal did not come until 2005 for stoushes that had already slipped from the collective memory.

Up to 10,000 died in the conflicts, but the Brits who led the Commonwealth forces are still frightened to acknowledge them.

In 2005, Malaysian King Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin said he wanted to honour servicemen who fought for his country by awarding them a new medal, the Pingat Jasa Malaysia. While Kiwi veterans can wear the medal, the British Ministry of Defence will not give ex-servicemen the same permission. The British veterans are still fighting.

The Southland Times