SERIAN: Worried for her husband’s safety, housewife Claire Baor, 51, skyped her husband who was posted to Timor Leste, Indonesia on a peacekeeping mission under the United Nations (UN), on the night of Feb 6.
Chief Inspector Benet Pawun assured his wife that he was alright, adding that he was only having a fever as the local doctor there had given him some medicine and a sick leave for a few days.
At first, nothing seemed unusual. Chief Inspector Benet has served in Timor Leste for the past four months.
But little did his wife know that those words would be the last she would ever hear from her husband.
On Feb 7, Chief Inspector Benet was found dead on his bed in his living quarters in Dili, Timor Leste. He was 52.
Claire received the dreaded call at 10am that morning.
“After that last Skype video call, I tried calling him through his phone but he did not answer. I told myself he was alright and he was probably resting.
“He was supposed to come back this week for a family gathering,” sobbed Claire when met at her home at Taman Anggerik, Serian near here yesterday.
The unexpected death of Benet, an officer from the state contingent police headquarters, came as a shock for his family and friends.
He left behind six children — Moses (17), Cornelius (19), Leviana (26), Malcom (28), Connie (30) and Somers (32), as well as three, plus one more on the way, grandchildren.
“It began when he told me through a Skype video call that he had a fever on Feb 3. He said he went to a local clinic and the doctor there took his blood samples for testing while giving him some medicine.
“However, it was too late as he was found dead in his living quarters by his colleagues on Feb 7,” said Claire.
She said Benet’s last words were that he would be back for a family gathering in mid-February. They last met him when he was back for Christmas from Dec 19 till Jan 5.
“He was a gentleman… we will miss him dearly,” lamented Claire.
Benet was sent on the mission on Oct 14 and was supposed to serve there for a year.
He had served the force at the state contingent police headquarters since 1980.
His son Malcom, also a police constable serving in Johor in the the multimedia and public affairs department, said although his father was a strict man, he loved his family and children and was very close to them.
“He was firm and fair, always jolly and very close to me and my siblings.
“At work, he was very close to his colleagues regardless of their ranks. He was also very hardworking,” he said.
Malcolm revealed that his father’s body was expected to be flown back to Kuching and due to arrive here either tomorrow or Monday after quarantine in Darwin, Australia.
“A wake would be held at our village Kampung Mayang Kawan near Serian before burial the next day.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Richard Riot Jaem, who visited the family, said Benet’s death was probably due to dengue fever.
“However, it has yet to be confirmed. The body is now being held in Darwin for quarantine before being flown back to Kuching by the earliest this Sunday.
“I believe there would be a ceremonial welcome when his body arrives at the Kuching International Airport later,” he said.
“I am sure that the UN will compensate his family accordingly.
“Anybody who dies in the course of duty under the UN is a hero to me.”