In a rare interview to a Japanese media, Malaysian tycoon Robert Kuok talked about the brutal killings and rape against people close to him during the Japanese occupation of Malaya from 1941 to 1945
The media-shy business magnate who is known for his reclusive nature was interviewed by a Japanese daily called The Asahi Shimbun, during which he detailed the horrors of the brutal Japanese occupation of Malaya during the World War II.
Kuok, who mostly talked about his wartime experiences, said that he agreed for the interview because he wants many Japanese, who do not know the truth about their country's atrocities, to know what happened more than 70 years ago.
"I want the younger generation to know the history," Kuok said when asked to explain why he accepted The Asahi Shimbun's request for an interview.
"Once, a young Japanese woman who was our family friend asked me to talk about the war. After I told her about my experiences... she said, 'I cannot believe you. What you have said was not in the Japanese history textbooks.' I was shocked."
He shared an incident involving a close ethnic Indian friend of his who was among those killed near Johor Bahru by Japanese soldiers after Eurasian families rose up against them for molesting a girl
"In a town called Ulu Tiram, about 50 kilometres away from Johor Bahru where I used to live, a group of Eurasian families was massacred.
"After the Japanese invaded Malaya, about 80 or 90 Eurasian people took refuge in the town because it had a small Roman Catholic church.
"One day, some Japanese soldiers touched the Eurasian girls. Enraged by this behaviour, the Eurasian men took out their revolvers and asked (them) to stop the nonsense.
"The Japanese left that day but after several days, they came back one evening with three truckloads of soldiers, which was about probably 60 or 80 people, surrounded the whole compound and killed everyone," Kuok told the Japanese daily.
One of the victims was my close friend. He was an Indian who was close to the Eurasian families and he was there at the time. About 15 or 20 people that I knew, including my school teacher, were killed in this one incident.
Kuok said that there was not only one massacre but many
"My classmates from a family originally from Chaozhou (in China's Guangdong province) in the Johor Bahru Chinese school were also killed.
"When I went back to Johor Bahru from the plantation, I went to look for my classmates and was told that they had been raped, brutally killed and buried in a sports field, together with their whole family," he said while recalling how when he was a student at the Raffles College, where Lee Kuan Yew (the first Singapore prime minister) was one year his senior, one of the senior students was singled out as anti-Japanese.
He was made to kneel facing the water on Changi beach and shot with his hands tied with barbed wire.
The Hong Kong-based tycoon, who considers himself a friend of the Japanese, said that while he has an understanding of the Japanese people, he hopes that they will not repeat their "stupid actions"
According to Kuok, Japan is a nation of honest, hard-working people.
"They only wanted to lead normal decent lives. They were misled by a handful of criminal-minded men," he told in his interview with The Asahi Shimbun, 16 August, adding that it is his fervent hope, "that such horrible misdeeds are never done again."