No more tears left to shed

Painful loss: A file photo of Nur Izzati and Sumiati as they hold a photo of Sjn-Mejar Baharin.

KOTA KINABALU: For the past 10 years, Sumiati Suarah feels a sense of loss whenever March rolls in.

It was in early March 2013 when the mother of two lost her husband, Sjn-Mejar Baharin Amit.

He was among the policemen on duty when the Lahad Datu intrusion happened and was killed in an ambush at Kampung Simunul in Semporna.

The 61-year-old Sumiati has never been able to get over it but is living with as much positivity as she can.

“I had to be stronger emotionally and mentally for my two children, who were only aged 15 and 11 then,” Sumiati said.

She knows several women who share her sorrow – those who also lost their husbands during the intrusion.

She made friends with these widows in Sabah, Sarawak and the peninsula. They bonded and kept each other stronger.

“We set up a WhatsApp chat group, just the few of us and we always share our thoughts and feelings whenever we feel down, or when we miss our husbands,” she said.

Sumiati, being the oldest, was referred to as their elder sister.


Every March, the feeling of loss and heartache would grow, she said, and they would also be more emotional and sadder than usual.

“But I have learnt to just try to suppress those emotions, and to ignore the feelings while I listen to the other widows share their sadness,” she said.

Sumiati, who did not want to be photographed, said all her tears had dried up.

She is just too tired to relive the incident.

Instead, she tries to help her “younger sisters” feel better by sometimes making jokes and just trying to brighten up the mood.

At times, they usually joke among themselves about who has found a boyfriend or who has remarried.

So far, only two had remarried, she said.

“The rest of us, especially myself, don’t see the need to. For me, I am old and always sick,” she said.

“Any man who marries me would feel burdened. I have nothing to offer except trips to the hospital,” said Sumiati who has kidney and cholesterol issues.

She said her children – Mohd Izzat Syafiq, now 25, and Nur Izzati Syafiqah 21 – have also learnt to move on with their lives but still keep the memories of their father close to their hearts.

Whenever they miss their father, they would go through the photo album and reminisce about him.

With Sjn-Mejar Baharin’s grave not far from their homes, the family of three would often visit,

“We all miss him, but we have found our own ways to cope and continue to pray for his soul,” said Sumiati.

Apart from Sjn-Mejar Baharin, five other policemen were killed in the ambush at Kampung Simunul.

They were Supt Ibrahim Lebar, ASP Michael Padel, Sjn Abdul Aziz Sarikon, Kpl Salam Togiran and L/Kpl Mohd Azrul Tukiran who have all been promoted posthumously.

They were among the 10 security forces killed following the Kampung Tanduo intrusion by a group of about 200 Sulu militants in Lahad Datu in February 2013.

Others who were killed in this incident were two VAT69 commandos Insp Zulkifli Mamat and Kpl Sabarudin Daud, both from the Hulu Kinta Camp of the General Operations Force, Pbt Ahmad Hurairah Ismail who was killed by a sniper and Pbt Ahmad Farhan Ruslan who got into a road accident.

The intrusion that began in February resulted in a standoff and skirmishes with the Malaysian security forces until March when the government launched Ops Daulat.

A total of 30 people, including Filipino militants and locals, were eventually charged with waging a war against the King and other related offences.

Eleven Filipinos were acquitted, while 16 were given life imprisonment while two died during the trial.

Nine of them were subsequently sentenced to death after they appealed their sentence.

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