By Natasha Jee & Sarah Hafizah Chandra
KUCHING: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg paid his last respects to national hero Datuk Sgt Awang Raweng, who passed away last Friday, at the Kuching Civic Centre here on Monday (Sept 21).
Abang Johari arrived at 9.30am, accompanied by other state dignitaries, including Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas; Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah and Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah and State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion.
He was also seen conveying his condolences to Awang’s family members.
Before the late Awang, Malaysia’s sole George Cross recipient, was laid to rest at the Heroes Memorial cemetery in Jalan Taman Budaya, a prayer service led by Reverend Canon Roannie W Cannidy was held at 10am.
It was then followed by the reading of Awang’s eulogy by Uggah.
“We congregate here today to mourn the great loss of a true hero. He had the central traits of a hero. Bravery, conviction, courage, determination, helpfulness, honesty, inspirational, protectiveness, self-sacrifice, selflessness and strength.”
Uggah said Awang’s selflessness was exemplary and he had acted voluntarily in the service of others and performed actions without any expectation of reward or external gain.
“He knew the potential risks or sacrifice made by taking such heroic actions. But what really made us, all Malaysians, proud is that he lived to the spirit of our war cry ‘Agi Idup Agi Ngelaban’ (as long as I live, I shall fight). And without a doubt, Datuk Awang was a hero in every sense.”
Uggah said Awang’s bravery and courage were renowned, as during a firefight with communist terrorists on May 27, 1951 in Johor, he had shown immense courage and bravery.
“His demise is a tremendous loss not just to his family and friends, but to all of us and to our nation. We have lost an illustrious hero who sacrificed selflessly for his country, and a family man who gave back to his community, without expecting anything in return.
“His legacy shall live on. He has shown us the spirit of ‘Agi Idup, Agi Ngelaban’ to his last breath. May Datuk Sergeant Awang Raweng rest in peace,” said Uggah.
Awang breathed his last breath at the age of 104 at his son’s residence in Sri Aman. He had nine children, 24 grandchildren, 26 great grandchildren, and two great great-grandchildren.
Based on his biography, Awang, was born in 1929 in Nanga Skrang. He decided to sign up as a jungle tracker to defend the country.
He served in Malaya before being posted to the Worcestershire Regiment in December 1950. It was his stint at the Worcester Regiment that he was involved in firefights with communist terrorists on May 25, 1951 in Johor, that led to him being awarded the George Cross medal for his gallantry in November 1951.
Awang was also the member of the elite Iban trackers who served during the Malayan Emergency from 1948 to 1960.
Apart from the George Cross medal, Awang was awarded the Pingat Jasa Malaysia in 2011, General Service Medal, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012, Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002, Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977 and Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal in 1953, and Oct 13, 2018, the Sarawak government bestowed upon him the Panglima Setia Bintang award in 2018, which carries the title ‘Datuk’, as a recognition of his heroism in conjunction with the Sarawak Governor’s 82nd birthday celebration.