A doting father dearly missed

Corrine Masing (third right) with (from left) Anna Sulan, Ashley Layo, Emma Maria, Rachel Lian, and Karen Julan at the state funeral service. Photo: Mohd Alif Noni

KUCHING: While the late Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing has undeniably left behind a meaningful legacy for Sarawak and its people, on a more personal level he is remembered as a doting father and family man, an advocate for education, an inspiration, and one with a great sense of humour.

This was evident through the heartfelt eulogies delivered by the late Deputy Chief Minister’s five children at his state funeral service held at the Christian Ecumenical Worship Centre, Association of Churches in Sarawak (ACS) at Jalan Stampin here today (Nov 3).

Through their respective eulogies, they reminisced fond and cherished memories of their beloved father.

Karen Julan Masing shared that her father had taken her to see all his works and projects, including the bridges and roads he had strived to develop. 

“He was so proud of them. He was proud not because it was a project done, but rather he was proud because the people get to enjoy all these basic facilities,” she said.

She noticed that whenever they visited the interior regions, the people were always eager to meet her father and their faces would brighten up upon seeing him. She added that this feeling was mutual too.

“When he met them, it was like a father meeting his children. He would listen to them and find out what they needed. And whatever he could do to help, he would. And whatever he couldn’t, he would be very frank with them,” she said.

She said her father prioritised education including among his children, remarking that he did not mind what course she and her siblings took as long as they had the best education.

“For others, he had been silently helping so many families with their children’s education; applying for scholarships for them and supporting them with financial aid, even out of his own pockets. There was no publicity because my dad did not believe in highlighting such personal contributions,” said Karen.

She noted that her father was known to be outspoken in issues affecting all communities.

“I believe that it is his hope that other Dayaks will continue his legacy of being bold and sincere in raising the issues and needs of the Dayak community,” she said.

She also shared a favourite quote of her father: “If you love me, I will always remember you in my heart. If you help me, I will always remember you in my mind.”

Anna Sulan Masing highlighted her father’s avid love for reading, adding that he was a strong believer in education and constant learning.

“This was so clearly seen in his political and work life, but I think it’s best seen in the way he encouraged us kids to live our lives – to go out into the world and explore, to seek our own paths, and to always have adventure,” she said.

She said family was everything to her father; family was his joy. She said he always wanted to know what they were up to and, most importantly, if they were looking after each other.

“To me, this was always about how he looked to the future and he was always seeing things with such positivity and having a great vision even in the smallest moments. And there was always so much joy with everything that he did and spoke about.

“My dad was an inspiration. He is essential to everything that I have become and that I will be. And I know he was and will continue to be an inspiration to so many,” Anna said fondly.

Ashley Layo Masing (left) delivers a eulogy for his late father as (from second left) Emma Maria Masing and Karen Julan Masing look on. Photo: Ukas

Meanwhile, Rachel Lian Masing said she would always remember her dad for the softness of his heart, pointing out that her father never seemed to run out of patience to show his love to all of his children.

“He would call each of us ‘sweetheart’, put his hand on our shoulder, and bend his head to listen to what each one was saying with so much interest. He would often respond with a chuckle to what we said – we all loved to make him laugh,” she said.

She expressed sadness that her father was gone too soon and wished that her sons could have had more memories with their grandfather.

“We love to laugh about Dad and with Dad, and I want to continue to do that because he would hate to see us sad.

“And for the rest of our lives without Dad, I want to remember him with a smile and a laugh and a joke. We love you so much Dad, we miss you too much.

“Be safe, be in peace, and watch over us all. As you looked after all of us so well in life, we are counting on you to look after us still,” said Rachel.

Ashley Layo Masing compared the loss of his father with the similar experience Masing had gone through when he had lost his own father too.

“I think back to the story of how he had lost his own father whilst at university in a faraway country, and how he struggled to find his way back home to pay his respects and say goodbye. And in a strange twist of fate, the same thing happened to me,” he said.

He said the house he had grown up in now felt haunted albeit in a good way, remarking that he saw his father’s ghost lingering in the books he kept by the office, the now empty dinner chair he used to sit at, and the wedding ring and cell phone he had left behind and was now laid to rest with.

“And I like to think that maybe his spirit lingers around me the same way it lingers around our house,” he said wistfully.

Emma Maria Masing shared that it was the little things that she would miss about her father.

“The way I would call for him when it was dinner time, the silence we shared at the farm whilst we drank coffee, the cheesy action movies that I would put on for him which he always fell asleep to, or the way he came to mind when I watched an interesting documentary or picked up a good book,” she said.

She said she missed his smile and the looks he would give his children from afar.

“But the one phrase I will remember the most is: “I love you kids.” He was a man worthy of praise and a man humble enough to shyly deny them,” she said tearfully. 

Masing – who was also Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president, Minister of Infrastructure and Port Development, and Baleh assemblyman – passed away on Oct 31.

He is survived by his wife Puan Sri Datin Amar Corrine Masing and five children.

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