The Thai-Burma Death Railway


The movie, The Bridge on the River Kwai, turned the horrendous sufferings of those who worked on the Death Railway into a romantic musical.

The following theme from the movie remains definitive in our impression of the Death Railway.

Mitch Miller – The River Kwai March ~ Colonel Bogey March

Video:Thai-Burma Death Railway by David John Boggett

Bridge on the River Kwai Week and Light & Sound Show is from 28 November to 7 December 2014

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River Kwai Bridge Festival and Light & Sound Show is from 28 Nov-7 Dec. Click here:

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The light and sound show for the Bridge on the River Kwai Week in Kanchanaburi is from 28 November to 7 December 2014

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Bridge over the river Kwai. Also Honoring Hindi forces of WWII

And here, walks the length of the iconic bridge on the River Kwai. Bonus, musical nostalgia:

Did the Jap Govt pay a RM207bn compensation?

The money, said to have been handed over to the Malaysian government by Tokyo as far back as 2004, was meant to be distributed to some 30,000 Malaysians who had been recruited as forced labourers. The RM207 billion in compensation means each affected family is entitled to receive between RM2.8 and RM3 million.


  • 13 Feb 2013
  • The Star Malaysia

Hellish life on Death Railway

88-year-old survivor recalls horror of forced labour during WWII

PETALING JAYA: Even after 65 years, the memories of dicing with death thrice remain fresh for Death Railyway survivor Loke Wing Yew.

Close call: Loke posing with a photo of the Death Railway.

Loke, who is still hale and hearty at 88, recalls vividly living in hellish conditions as he toiled alongside tens of thousands of men in the jungles of Burma during World War 2.
Loke said he was 17 when he was taken by the Japanese in 1942 and amongst the first few hundred workers sent to Burma.


Blood money for Death Railway used on MISC?

Harakahdaily, 18 January 2013

Jan 18: The mystery surrounding a huge amount of compensation allegedly paid by the Japan to the Malaysian government for victims of the Death Railway project took a twist with PAS demanding an explanation whether the money had been used to develop the Malaysia International Shipping Corporation (MISC).

PAS information chief Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man referred to a 2007 report carried by UMNO mouthpiece Utusan Malaysia quoting Ahmad Shabery Cheek, the then secretary at the Foreign Ministry as saying that the ‘blood money’ paid by Tokyo had been used to develop MISC.

Shabery, now the Youth and Sports minister, had also said that the government would not allow individuals and organisations to make direct claims of compensation from Japan.

“The victims are now faced with an even more unfortunate news when the money which was meant for them was said to be abused by the government to build Malaysia International Shipping Corporation Berhad (MISC) as reported by Utusan in a report in 2007,” said Tuan Ibrahim.


The movie, The Bridge on the River Kwai, turned the horrendous sufferings of those who worked on the Death Railway into a romantic musical.

The following theme from the movie remains definitive in our impression of the Death Railway.

Mitch Miller – The River Kwai March ~ Colonel Bogey March


Suegami said all matters related to compensation during the Second World War had been settled under the San Francisco Treaty, 1952.

He added there was also a mutual agreement between Malaysia and Japan in 1967 whereby Japan had agreed to supply Malaysia with grants, products and manpower totaling RM25 million.

“All the supply in accordance with the agreement was completed by May 6, 1972,” he added.

Free Malaysia Today

Japanese embassy: What RM207b?

Lisa J. Ariffin | January 8, 2013

The embassy says it has never confirmed that the sum was paid to the Malaysian government as compensation for the Death Railway project.


KUALA LUMPUR:  The Japanese embassy today denied any knowledge of the RM207 billion compensation for Japan’s Death Railway project as pursued by PAS’ Mohamad Nizar Jamaludin.

Japan’s second secretary to Malaysia Takaharu Suegami said today his government never confirmed that RM207 billion was paid to the Malaysian government to compensate some 30,000 Malaysians once recruited as forced labour in its Death Railway project.

“Regarding the compensation of RM207 billion inquired by (Nizar), it is outside of the involvement and knowledge of the government of Japan,” he said in a statement.

“We must remind you that the embassy of Japan has never confirmed that RM207 billion was paid to the Malaysian government as compensation for the victims of the ‘Death Railway’ project,” he added.

Japanese embassy: What RM207b?


Show proof, MIC tells PKR

B Nantha Kumar | January 8, 2013

A MIC leader tells Chua Jui Meng not to spin tales over the compensation for the Death Railway workers.

PETALING JAYA: A MIC leader has challenged PKR vice-president Chua Jui Meng to expose the evidence regarding the Death Railway compensation.

S Vell Paari claimed that the opposition leader had come up with another tale to confuse the Indian community.

“Since [PKR vice-president] N Surendran failed to convince the Indians on the ‘stateless Indians’ issue, now its Chua’s turn…” said the MIC publicity and communication chief.

Vell Paari, however, found it odd that apart from Pakatan leaders, nobody else was aware of the compensation.

“He (Chua) said the money was given in the 1990s. Then, how come there was not a single media report about this?” asked the MIC central working committee (CWC) member.

Show proof, MIC tells PKR


River Kwai Bridge or Death Railway

Location: Muang County, Kanchanaburi Province (128 km west of Bangkok)

If you are looking to maximize Bangkok sightseeing to nearby provinces, many tour operators would reckon a one-day trip to the world’s infamous Death Railway, the tragic Thailand-Burma rail route that claimed the lives of thousands of Allied Prisoners of War (POWs) as well as even greater numbers of civilians forced to work on the project.

The 415-km long track traverses steep hills and deep valleys. Part of it is known as the Bridge over the River Kwai.

death railway
war cemetery, Kanchanaburi

Though, partly destroyed from hard bombing during the Second World War, the black iron bridge crossing the River Kwai was rebuilt and it is now a popular photogenic site.

The notorious railway was built by the Japanese Army in 1942 during WWII as a route of supply extending 415 km from Nong Pladuk of Thailand to Thanbyuzayat of Burma (former name of Myanmar).

To rush the work to an early completion in rugged mountains and deep jungles of Kanchanaburi, a total of 61,700 allied POWs (mainly Australians, Dutch and British) and 270,000 Asian forced labourers were sent to work on the project. They had to work in hot and damp weather conditions ten hours a day seven days a week with little to eat. Epidemics of malaria and cholera were rampant among them, and there was not enough medicine to go round. Under such extremely harsh conditions, almost half of the men had perished when the construction of the railway and the bridge was rushed to finish in 13 months.

After the war ended, the dead were reburied in Kanchanaburi War Cemetery (Don Rak) and Chong Kai War Cemetery.

Death Railway, River Kwai Bridge, Kanchanaburi – Thailan


Japanese Embassy clarifies report

Harakahdaily, 07 January 2013

Jan 7: The Japanese embassy in Kuala Lumpur has clarified a report by Harakahdaily quoting Bukit Gantang member of parliament Nizar Jamaluddin.

Nizar, who heads Jejak, a secretariat formed to investigate the claim that compensation paid by Tokyo to the Malaysian government for victims of the Death Railway project has yet to reach them, had last week met officials of the embassy to get more details.

In its report, Harakahdaily quoted Jejak as saying that the embassy’s second secretary Takaharu Suegami confirmed money had been paid to the Malaysian government in the 1990s.

In a short email to Jejak clarifying the report, the embassy said it was not aware of any other compensation paid to Malaysia other than the 1967 agreement between Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur.

Under the deal signed in September 1967, the two governments agreed that Japan would pay “blood money” to the Malaysian government being settlement of the issue of compensation to those forced to work on the “Death Railway”, an ambitious project by the Japanese imperial power to link Burma and Thailand with 400-kilometres of railway tracks.

The Japanese embassy also further clarified today that the undisclosed amount was transfered “around 1970’s or 80’s”, but added that it had to check with its government on the list of victims as well as whether there has been any other compensation.

Nizar had earlier suggested that based on documents he had, Japan had paid some RM207 billion to the Malaysian government in 2004, while the money had yet to be distributed to family members of the estimated 30,000 Malaysians who worked as forced labourers for the project.

Embassy clarifies report on ‘Death Railway’ compensation


Missing RM207b: Group to visit Japan embassy

Harakahdaily, 02 January 2013


Whoever stole the money from the 30,000 dead Malaysians is/are worse than animals, hitting the depths of greed.

Malaysian Chronicle

Sunday, 06 January 2013 10:44

‘Disappearing’ compensation: ARE YOU SO GREEDY, DR M, HAVE YOU NO CONSCIENCE?

Written by  Chua Jui Meng


The sum of RM207 billion or whatever the amount must be revealed by Mahathir.

He was close to the Japanese government and corporate sector when he promoted his Look East Policy aimed at enhancing trade with Japan.

The stinking part of the Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government is that the public is today unaware of the compensation payment by the Japanese.

We would have thought Mahathir would have brought the money back from Japan in triumph, like a victorious Roman general.

Umno would have organised a huge gathering of the victims or their families and distributed the money. No, it was all covered in secrecy!
The money is believed to have been transferred by the Japanese government to Malaysia in the 1990s.

This means it happened during Mahathir’s 22-year reign.

Who then has hijacked or stolen the money?

It is no small sum and surely Mahathir cannot expect us to accept his infamous “I cannot remember” or “I am unaware of such compensation money from Japan”?

This time, Malaysians cannot accept his “selective loss of memory” or “selective amnesia”.

Who hijacked the Death Railway money?



Whither RM207bil Death Railway compensation?’

9:47AM Jan 5, 2013

Until today, neither hide nor hair of the estimated RM207 billion Japanese compensation, for using over 30,000 Malayans as forced labour for the infamous Death Railway from Siam to Burma during World War II, has been seen by surviving victims or their heirs, claimed former Perak menteri besar Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin.

“We don’t know if the money is still in the keeping of the government or has been disbursed to the victims.

NONE“There were 30,000 who had survived to come back to Malaysia, though some had died, they have heirs who formed the Association of former labourers and heirs of the Siam-Burma 1942-1946 railway construction,” Nizar was quoted in a Harakahdaily report.

‘Whither RM207bil Death Railway compensation?’


Embassy confirms huge compensation paid to Malaysian govt

Harakahdaily, 03 January 2013

Jan 3: The Embassy of Japan has today confirmed that it had paid money to the Malaysian government being compensation for families of victims of the so-called ‘Death Railway’ project in the 1940s.

Jejak, the PAS-backed secretariat led by Bukit Gantang member of parliament Nizar Jamaluddin, visited the embassy today in a bid to unravel truth over some RM207 billion in unpaid compensation. Also present were PAS Youth vice  chief Raja Iskandar Al-Hiss and Jejak operation chief Safarizal Saleh.

The secretariat was formed to track down next-of-kins of those forced to work in the ‘Death Railway’.

Jejak quoted the embassy’s second secretary Takaharu Suegami as saying that the money was transfered in the 1990s, but added that his office would have to consult Tokyo to get further details.

Suegami however said Japan had no details about how the money was distributed by the Malaysian government.

Read more: Embassy confirms huge compensation paid to Malaysian govt


From Wikipedia

The Burma Railway, also known as the Death Railway, the Thailand–Burma Railway and similar names, was a 415 kilometres (258 mi) railway between Bangkok, Thailand, and Rangoon, Burma (now Yangon, Myanmar), built by the Empire of Japan during World War II, to support its forces in the Burma campaign.

Forced labour was used in its construction. About 180,000 Asian labourers and 60,000 Allied prisoners of war (POWs) worked on the railway. Of these, around 90,000 Asian labourers (mainly romusha) and 16,000 Allied POWs died as a direct result of the project. The dead POWs included 6,318 British personnel, 2,815 Australians, 2,490 Dutch, about 356 Americans and a smaller number of Canadians and New Zealanders.


Excerpts from:

The Death Railwayb

When people come to Thailand, one of the first things they want to visit is The Bridge on the River Kwai. Made famous by the 1957 film starring Alec Guinness, William Holden and Jack Hawkins, the bridge is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Thailand today.

DeathbridgeKwai.jpg (25694 bytes)
The rebuilt Bridge over the River Kwai

Located in Kanchanaburi, it’s 120 km west and about two hours drive from Bangkok. The town was founded by King Rama I against a possible invasion by Burmese soldiers through Three Pagodas Pass.

Kanchanaburi is a pleasant town with beautiful scenery, nice people and numerous picturesque Buddhist temples. Many people stay in guest houses which are located right on the river. It is a great place to escape from the hustle and bustle of busy Bangkok life.

From rich tourists traveling on expensive package tours to backpackers traveling thru on the cheapest form of public transport, hundreds of people make their way to Kanchanaburi everyday to catch a glimpse of the famous bridge.

During World War II, the Japanese used this train for the transportation of ammunition to expand the fight into Burma and India

When people come to Thailand, one of the first things they want to visit is The Bridge on the River Kwai. Made famous by the 1957 film starring Alec Guinness, William … – Cached


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2 Responses to The Thai-Burma Death Railway

  1. shawnkwong says:

    Too many people died in vain. It’s time to give them the honor of a royal funeral service.

  2. Subra Pillay says:

    At least this time around can the MIC keep the mouth shut ! Afterall, MIC has not done anything good for the Indian community.If you cannot do any good for the community,at least allow others do some good work. Do you know the kind of sufferings the victims of the death railway underwent. Do not come and ask for proof of the payout of RM 207 bil.Bank Negara and the Japanese High commission have admitted it.Whatever denials NOW are an afterthought. Nizar Jamaludding or Chuah Jui Meng are no fools to talk about this matter, if they hadn’t evidence.-subramaniam
    Subra Pillay

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