Letter to the Editor — Remembering the service of our Malaya and Borneo veterans

Tuesday, August 25 2020

The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel

On 31 August each year Australia commemorates Malaya and Borneo Veterans’ Day, recognising the valuable contribution of our personnel who served in two post-Second World War conflicts, the Malayan Emergency (1948–1960), and the Indonesian Confrontation, or Konfrontasi, (1962–1966).

Although sensitivities surrounding the conflicts prevented widespread media coverage at the time, our Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel played an important role in bringing these conflicts to an end.

The Malayan Emergency was declared three years after the end of the Second World War, when the Malayan Communist Party launched an insurgency against British colonial rule.

Australia’s commitment began in 1950 with the Royal Australian Air Force. They were joined by the Royal Australian Navy and Australian Army in 1955.

On 31 July this year, we marked 60 years since the end of the Malayan Emergency and while the Malayan government declared the Emergency over on 31 July 1960, some Australian units remained in Malaya until 1963.

Our Defence personnel served over 13 years, in what was one of Australia’s longest military commitments.

The Indonesian Confrontation was a small undeclared war, which began in 1962 after Indonesian forces launched attacks on the newly federated state of Malaysia.

Australia’s commitment began in 1964, and in 1965 our troops assisted in small-scale operations in the thickly forested terrain of Borneo. Our troops remained in Borneo until 1966.

Thirty-nine Australians died while serving in the Malayan Emergency, 15 of whom were killed in action, and more than 20 Australians died while serving in the Indonesian Confrontation.

On Malaya and Borneo Veterans’ Day we should all pause and remember their service and sacrifice.

On behalf of Australia, thank you for your service and sacrifice.

Lest we forget.

Media contacts

Rachel Tharratt: 02 6277 7820

DVA Media: 02 6289 6466

Office of the Hon Darren Chester, Canberra ACT

Open Arms — Veterans and Families Counselling provides support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families. Free and confidential help is available 24/7. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 1800 011 046 or +61 8 8241 4546) or visit www.OpenArms.gov.au