KOTA KINABALU: The late Lt Kol Awang Askandar Ampuan Yaacub (pic) wanted to set up a Malaysian Civil Defence Force (MCDF) "Extreme Squad" to help nations hit by disasters, says the Force's chief commissioner Aminurrahim Mohamed.
Aminurrahim said the Malaysian Everest 2023 (ME2023) participant - who was also the Kedah MCDF director - had expressed his wish to help countries affected by disasters such as earthquake-stricken Turkiye.
He also described the late Awang Askandar, 56, who perished on Everest, as an active person and his selection as one of the climbers in the ME2023 mission had raised MCDF’s profile and image.
"The deceased had a strong spirit even though he reached the age of 56, but his spirit and commitment were very high. MCDF is indeed at a loss and it will be difficult to find a replacement,” he said when met after the funeral at the Kampung Benoni Islamic Cemetery here today.
Awang Iskandar died after falling when climbing Mount Everest, from 8,000m above sea level when he had only about 20min left to reach the peak.
He was with national climber Muhammad Hawari Hashim, 33, who is hearing-impaired.
Muhammad Hawari is still missing after successfully reaching the highest peak in the world and search operations to find him are still ongoing.
Meanwhile, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Sabah, Sarawak Affairs and Special Functions) Datuk Armizan Mohd Ali said all matters related to assistance for the deceased’s family would be taken care of.
He said several affairs such as entitlements including pension, insurance and other incentives would also be managed accordingly for the family.
"We will help with the matter so that the family can easily receive compensation in addition to other assistance,” he said.
Awang Askandar’s friend, Masneh Jaafar, 50 who has known the former since their days at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) in the late 90s, described Awang Askandar as a big brother to Sabah students at that time.
Masneh said at that time, Awang Askandar was a junior student at USM, although in terms of age, he was older.
"Any problems (we had), we would refer to him (the deceased),” she said, tearfully recounting her memories of the deceased.
Hamzah Madi, 50, who was also a university mate, said the last time he met Awang Askandar was last year in Ranau.
He said every time Awang Askandar went to Ranau to climb Mount Kinabalu for training, they often met up and at their last meeting, Awang Askandar invited Hamzah to visit him in Kedah.
"The last time I saw him, the deceased was also on an aid mission to several schools in Ranau,” Hamzah said while reminiscing about a planned celebration at Bukit Bendera, because he shared the same birth month as the deceased, which is December. - Bernama