I see that Minister Foss has recanted on his previously expressed opposition to the repatriation of the remains of servicemen killed in the Malayan and Vietnam conflicts and buried in Malaysian cemeteries and is instructing the Veterans' Advisory Board to investigate the matter and recommend an appropriate course of action.
Better late than never. My sources tell me the PM did not take kindly to the original advice provided by the Minister's office and that, combined with some heavyweight lobbying by senior cabinet ministers saw Foss forced to backtrack.
For the record and I know this view is not shared by all veterans my own position is that the NOK of soldiers buried in in civilian cemeteries should be offered the opportunity of having their remains repatriated at public expense. I am less convinced that this should be extended to those buried in the British Military Cemetery at Terendak, Melaka. I have visited there a number of times . It is well maintained and cared for.
Having said that I acknowledge there will be pressure have these men bought back too given that the Australians have, in repatriating their own, made no distinction between civilian and military cemeteries.
I'm sure the VAB will consider at the matter sensitively. A little bird tell me that Sir Wira Gardiner, himself a Vietnam veteran, will be seconded to the Board to assist them in their deliberations. That is a smart move.
Should the Board decide to recommend repatriation I would hazard a guess that a number of NOK will decline the offer taking the view that 50+ years is too long they should continue to 'Requiescat in pace'.