Full state funeral today for the father of modern Sarawak

Show of respect: The Sarawak flag flying at half-mast in front of the Sarawak Legislative Assembly complex in Kuching in conjunction with the two days of mourning. — KAMARUL ARIFFIN/The Star

KUCHING: Two days of mourning have been declared for Sarawak following the passing of former Sarawak Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud, says Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He added the state flag will be flown at half-mast and entertainment events postponed.

“Mosques and houses of worship are encouraged to hold prayers to remember Taib,” he told a press conference at Kuching International Airport ahead of the arrival of Taib’s remains here yesterday.

He said Taib will be laid to rest with full state honours in recognition of his service to Sarawak.

Taib, 87, passed away at a private hospital in Kuala Lumpur at 4.40am yesterday.

Taib’s remains arrived here at 4.25pm in an RMAF aircraft from the RMAF airbase in Subang, Selangor.

The casket, draped in the Sarawak flag, was carried by eight pallbearers past a guard-of-honour mounted by the 11th Battalion of the Royal Malay Regiment, while a 17-gun salute was fired.

Taib’s wife Toh Puan Raghad Kurdi Taib and his four children -- Jamilah, Datuk Seri Mahmud Abu Bekir, Datuk Seri Sulaiman Abdul Rahman and Datuk Hanifah Hajar, accompanied the remains on the flight.

The casket was then transported in a funeral van to Taib’s private residence in Demak Jaya here.

A state funeral will be held at the Sarawak Legislative Assembly complex today where the public can pay their last respects from 8am to 11.30am.

Following that, his remains will be brought to Masjid Demak for prayers before being laid to rest at the family cemetery at Demak Jaya.

A visibly emotional Abang Johari paid tribute to Taib as an “institution” who contributed immensely to Sarawak’s development.

He said the former chief minister and governor laid the foundation for Sarawak to become a modern state through his politics of development.

“As Governor, he was an adviser to the late Tan Sri Adenan Satem who succeeded him as chief minister and myself.

“He gave his whole life to serve Sarawak,” he added.

Abang Johari also said Taib was his mentor since he entered politics in 1981.

“He was always very generous in sharing his experience with us,” he added.

He added that Taib emphasised the importance of maintaining Sarawak’s harmony, being humble and serving the people to improve their lives.

Abang Johari also recalled that Taib was a fan of P. Ramlee movies because of their underlying philosophy.

“He appreciated the principle of equality in Antara Dua Darjat and the need to treat everyone fairly,” he said.

Earlier in Kuala Lumpur, a sombre atmosphere was felt at Masjid Negara as people, comprising family members and dignitaries, came to pay their last respects to Taib.

Among the dignitaries who came were Tengku Mahkota Pahang Tengku Hassanal Ibrahim Alam Shah Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, Perlis Regent Raja Muda Tuanku Syed Faizuddin Putra Jamalullail and Tengku Mahkota Kelantan Tengku Muhammad Fakhry Petra Sultan Ismail Petra. Also present was Melaka Governor Tun Mohd Ali Rustam.

The VIPs who also came were Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Razarudin Husain, Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Hasbi Habibollah and Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail.

The funeral prayers were led by the Grand Imam of Masjid Negara, Ehsan Mohd Hosni.

Taib’s remains was later transported to the RMAF airbase in Subang at about 12.30pm where it was flown to Kuching through a RMAF C-130 Hercules aircraft.

Selangor Ruler Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah was among those present at the RMAF airbase to pay respects to the former Sarawak chief minister.

Also present at the airbase were Sarawak governor Tun Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar and his wife Toh Puan Fauziah Mohd Sanusi, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and other Cabinet ministers.

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