BY NURULDAYANA RAFIEE
KUCHING: Alfred Brayan Tangkong may be a stranger to most people especially the younger generation as his name is almost never mentioned as a national hero who defended Sarawak from the communist threat.
This unsung hero, who was born on Dec 31, 1936, at Rumah Panjang Skra, Sri Aman, is the former chief inspector with the Police Field Force Kuching during the communist era.
“As a child, my parents, who were farmers, refused to send me to school as most parents at that time thought that they would be abandoned by their children if their children were educated
“Eventually, our village had a visit from the police who later announced that they were recruiting and looking to young men to join the force. Force, without hesitation, I immediately agreed.
“From there, I learned how to write and read,” said the Iban man in relating his story to this writer.
Today, at the age of 85, he could share his memories of past events thoroughly, remembering the details of his history as if it just happened yesterday.
Brayan shared how he started his service at Bukit Siol Camp, his migration to Brigade Commander Camp and Jalan Astana which he served last.
He had also served at Kuching Airport Camp, Semunjak Serian Camp, Temudok Camp Sri Aman and Lanang Camp in Sibu.
Looking back, Brayan said he never forgot all his battles with the communist terrorists.
“One of the incidents was at noon on Feb 27, 1966, where Cpl Langgong and I managed to shoot dead several communists — a Javanese, a Chinese and another whose identity was unknown.
“Another incident I remember was the second battle of Operasi Jala on March 21, 1970, in Nunok, Kuching where one enemy was killed,” he said, adding there were many more battles where he managed to kill several enemies.
Apart from that, he was also among those who rescued one Cpl Kuda who was shot in the stomach during a war but unfortunately, he never received any medals or awards like other national heroes.
His son Calvert Brayan said that to this day, his father often asked about the Bukit Siol Camp and wanted Calvert to send him there.
“He also asked other camps as well as his comrades-in-arms-and I told him that all of them had retired and returned to their hometowns and were now being replaced by younger ones,” he explained.
Elaborating further, Brayan’s 55-year-old son said his father also still remembers exactly the locations he once served.
“Any place we go, my father will remember everything that happened in that place — the time, the date and with whom he went, he also remembers.
“Even though my father is over 80 years old, his body is still fit.
“Sometimes he would say that he wants to go home to get his gun as he is afraid there are communists in the backyard, and he also instructed me to be ready for fear of communists attacking,” he added.
Before ending our conversation, Brayan reminded us that even though we are now an independent country, we should always appreciate the sacrifices of the country’s heroes who had worked hard to protect the country.
“We must also continue to maintain national sovereignty for the sake of security and harmony.
“Besides that, the younger generation also needs to appreciate history so that they know the true meaning of independence,” he stressed.
Brayan served with the Police Field Force for 35 years and retired on Dec 31, 1991.