BY NATASHA JEE & AINI SELIKANG
KUCHING: Melanau elected representatives in the states today described the passing of the former Head of State Tun Pehin Sri Datuk Patinggi Muhammad Salahuddin Abang Barieng as a great loss to the Melanau community.
Women, Childhood, and Community Wellbeing Development Minister and Dalat assemblywoman, Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said that it was a sad day for the people in Sarawak as Salahuddin was not only well respected as governor but also much loved for his simplicity, friendliness, genuine love, warmth and care for the people which cut across race, religion, and social status.
“My husband and I always enjoyed his non-official birthday celebrations organised by his late wife, Toh Puan Norkiah.
“We enjoyed seeing him enjoying his favourite food, his favourite songs and bermukun activities.
“We will miss him. May Allah grant him Jannah and may his family be given strength in facing his demise,” said Fatimah in a message shared through WhatsApp on Saturday(Jan 29).
Meanwhile, Assistant Minister in The Chief Minister’s Department (Integrity and Ombudsman) and Jemoreng assemblyman Datuk Juanda Jaya described the late Salahuddin as a symbol of unity of the multiracial society in Sarawak.
He said that Salahuddin was a great leader of the Melanau community in Sibu Division then.
“Apart from that, although he had converted to Islam, Salahuddin still maintained the old Melanau culture.
“I myself had a lot of personal experiences with him. He was one of our Melanau references to understand the old Melanau culture and customs,” he said when met by reporters after paying his last respect to Salahuddin at Masjid Jamek in Petra Jaya today.
He added that many people from all walks of life came to pay their last respect to the late Salahuddin because he was a humble and approachable leader..
“Actually, he always called himself a father and called those who visited him his children,” he said.
Meanwhile, Natural Resources and Urban Development Assistant Minister and Kuala Rajang assemblyman Datuk Len Talif Salleh expressed his sadness over the passing of the late Salahuddin.
“He was like a father figure to me and he was also a very good family friend,” he said.
He also described the passing of Salahuddin as a huge loss to Sarawak, particularly the Melanau community.
“Indeed, he is a very gentle and jovial and generous person, and he is also a big supporter of football.
“Before he was appointed as the governor, he was a follower of football not only in Sarawak but also in Sibu,” said Len Talif when contacted today.
Meanwhile, chairman of Sarikei Melanau Association Sulaiman Buhari said the state has lost a good leader following the passing of the late Tun Saluddin.
“He was a great leader that all the people of Sarawak love him very much.
“His departure from life is a great loss for Sarawak. On behalf of the Melanau Sarikei Association, I would like to express my sadness and condolences to the family of the late Tun,” he said.