Everest climber laid to rest

KOTA KINABALU: A week after Kedah Civil Defence Force director Lt-Kol Awang Askandar Ampuan Yaacub perished on Mount Everest, his remains were brought home and buried beside his late mother at the Kampung Benoni Islamic Cemetery in Papar, about 60km from here.

His grief-stricken wife Siti Hafizan Abdul Hamid did not attend the funeral.

However, Awang Askandar’s eight-year-old daughter Ameera Hana joined immediate family members and relatives as well as colleagues from the Malaysia Civil Defence Force (APM) in giving him his final farewell as he was buried next to his mother Dayang Fatinah Awang Ampuan Jair.

Awang Askandar, 56, leaves behind his wife and six children aged between two and 12 years old.

Also present were Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Armizan Mohd Ali and Yayasan Sabah director Datuk Ghulam Haidar Khan, both Papar natives.

The funeral ceremony, which began at 4.20pm yesterday, ended an hour later.

Earlier at 2.20pm, Awang Askandar’s body arrived at the grounds of MASKargo of the Kota Kinabalu International Airport, where his brother Awang Asim, 57, was the lone representative of the family to receive it.

“I am here representing the family. My brother’s wife and children are at home.

“We are saddened by his passing,” he said briefly when met at the MASKargo compound.

Also present to greet the arrival of the body were Armizan, Ghulam, Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Mohamad Alamin and former foreign minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman.

Awang Askandar’s body was carried into a van by 10 members of the APM before being taken back to Kampung Benoni, where hundreds gathered to pay their last respects.

The remains of Awang Askandar were taken to the Jamek As Salam Mosque for prayers.

Awang Askandar, who was one of the Malaysian Everest 2023 team members, died from a fall at the 8,000m mark of the Everest summit trail on May 19. He was reportedly close to the peak but decided to make a descent.

Another member of the expedition, Muhammad Hawari Hashim, 33, remains missing after he reached the summit. Search-and-rescue efforts are ongoing.

In a Facebook post on May 22, Awang Askandar’s wife Siti Hamzan, 36, affectionately called him “Sawoku” (a Kadazandusun term for spouse) and said they were proud of him and they would always miss him.

“I am very, very proud of you, my dearest Sawoku,” said the housewife, who accepted their fate.

“My children and I count our blessings to have had Awang Askandar as a wonderful and loving father and husband for 13 years,” said the wife in her post with an assurance to remain strong and care for the children.

Siti said her husband was always a good father who spent time with his children.

In a previous interview, Awang Asim said his brother had always dreamt of becoming the first person from Sabah, Sarawak and even Kalimantan to summit Everest and that he wanted to inspire the young to chase after their dreams.

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