KUALA SELANGOR: Cockle farmer Abu Hassan Abu Latiff always wanted to help others – even if this meant his own death.
The 57-year-old was honoured by Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) after he drowned while trying to rescue eight airmen from a plane crash here on Friday.
The eldest of six siblings, Abu Hassan had worked along the coastline at various odd jobs to care for his epileptic sister Halimahtun Abu Hassan.
“I can’t take this sadness. I am just thankful that these people were willing to come see us and remember what he did,” said a tearful Halimahtun, 42.
Khazali Abu Latiff, 45, said he was proud of his brother for what he tried to do for the officers.
“That is just how he is. A good hearted person.
“He was always trying to help people and never thought about himself.
“Last week, I had a troubling dream that my brother was sick. I talked to him about it and he told me that it was just a dream. And then, I found out that he had died,” he said.
Their house in Kampung Assam Jawa was swarmed with air force officers who came to pay their last respects to Abu Hassan.
Hishammuddin traded hugs and tears with Abu Hassan’s siblings, handing over an undisclosed amount of cash aid.
“On behalf of Mindef and RMAF, I want to thank the people here who helped the officers during the crisis,” he said.
“The eight officers are being treated at the ATM Hospital and their injuries are not serious – probably because of the quick action of the locals here,” he said.
Kuala Selangor MP and Kuala Selangor Fisheries Development Board fisheries director Datuk Irmohizam Ibrahim said the agency was looking into some form of compensation for Abu Hassan’s family under its fishermen insurance.
“We are unsure if he is covered as he was a traditional fisherman,” he said.
Abu Hassan’s body was found near the crashed CN235 plane Friday morning.
It is believed that he had been trying to rescue the officers in the plane along with the other fishermen when his foot got stuck in the mud and drowned.
His body was taken to the Tanjung Karang Hospital for a post-mortem. He was buried Friday night in Kampung Assam Jawa.
The RMAF has set up a five-man investigation board to probe the cause of the crash.
Its deputy chief Leftenan-General Datuk Seri Affendi Buang said the air force was studying some methods on how to remove the plane wreckage, which was now lodged in an earthy concoction of “neither water nor sand”.
“It will take a lot of logistics. We have to determine whether to remove the wreckage by sea, ground or air lift. The situation on the ground is a bit complex,” he said.
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