State funeral for Iban war hero

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 20 Sep 2020

Medals of honour: A file picture of the late Awang.

KUCHING: A 104-year-old Iban war hero who single-handedly fought off communists in the jungles of Johor to defend an injured comrade will be accorded a state funeral.

Datuk Awang Raweng, a former member of the elite Iban trackers during the British colonial era, passed away at about 2.15pm on Friday at his son’s residence in Taman Padri, Sri Aman.

News of his death was confirmed by his son, Panggau Awang.

Panggau said his father’s remains would be taken to Dewan Suarah Kuching to lie in state for the people to pay their last respects.

“On Monday, the remains will be brought to St Thomas Church, Kuching, before being laid to rest at the Heroes Memorial, Taman Budaya, Kuching, ” he said.

Awang came to Malaya then as an Iban tracker around December 1950 before being absorbed into the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment.

He was awarded the George Cross, named after King George VI, for his gallantry and dedicated service by the Queen of England in November 1951.

The award was in recognition of his fight against 50 communists in the Kluang forest, Johor, where he defended an injured British soldier alone.

He continued to fight despite having suffered serious injuries himself.

Awang was reported to have flown to London 20 times to attend the reunion of the First Battalion of the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiments where he was considered a dignitary and celebrated hero.

He was also given the opportunity to meet Queen Elizabeth II and members of the royal family at Buckingham Palace, in addition to receiving a special allowance of £100 every month from the British government.

He was also the recipient of the Panglima Setia Bintang Sarawak award, which carries the title “Datuk” by Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud in 2018.

He also received the Malaysian Service Medal in appreciation of the sacrifices he made for the sake of the country.

In a statement, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said Awang’s passing would be deeply felt by all Sarawakians, calling him one of the state’s finest soldiers.

“He was the epitome of sheer dedication to duty and responsibility, blended with uncommon valour, ” he said, while expressing his condolences to the family. — Bernama

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