KUCHING: A feeling of sadness hung in the air when the remains of the last ‘Bujang Berani’ Datuk Awang Raweng arrived at Kuching Civic Centre here Sunday afternoon (Sept 20) for the final tribute ceremony.
The tributes quickly poured in for the late Iban tracker, with ministers and veterans who were present describing Awang’s death as a great loss.
Among those who paid their last respects were Deputy Chief Minister, Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing and State Secretary, Datuk Amar Jaul Samion, the former Deputy Chief Minister, Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang, Layar assemblyman, Gerald Rentap Jabu and former Eastern Field Commander, Lt Gen Datuk Stephen Mundaw.
Awang, a former member of the elite Iban trackers during the British colonial era, died at 2.15pm on Friday at his son’s residence in Sri Aman due to pneumonia.
His body was taken to Kuching at 8am on Sunday for the final tribute ceremony before being laid to rest at the Heroes Cemetery tomorrow (Monday, Sept 21).
The late Awang was married thrice.
From his first marriage, he was blessed with a son named Maling, who is now 72 years old, while from his second marriage, he was blessed with two children, Doris and Punai.
From his third marriage, he had six children — Menaul, now 60, Kenyalang (died two years ago), Douglas, 53, Panggau, 52, Giok (died at the age of three), and Lily, 50.
Awang was awarded the George Cross, which was named after King George VI, for gallantry by the Queen of England in November 1951.
This was in recognition of his bravery in battling 50 communists in the Kluang forest in Johor alone while defending an injured British soldier despite his own serious injuries.
He reportedly flew to London every year to attend the reunion of the First Battalion of the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiments and had the opportunity to meet Queen Elizabeth II.
He also received a (Honorary) Master of Strategic Studies Degree from Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia on October 27, 2015.
In 2018, Awang was awarded the ‘Panglima Setia Bintang Sarawak’, which carried the title of ‘Datuk’ by the Head of State, Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.