Thousands pay last respects to Taib despite rain

KUCHING: Despite the rainy weather, thousands of Malaysians, particularly Sarawakians, gathered at the State Legislative Assembly Complex here on Thursday (Feb 22) to bid farewell to former Sarawak governor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud.

Describing the late Abdul Taib as a legendary figure of the state, Zaahara Mahlidi, 55, a teacher from Bintulu, seized the opportunity to pay her final respects to the former Sarawak chief minister together with her husband.

"Coincidentally, I was in Kuching visiting my family when I heard the news of Tun’s passing yesterday morning. Despite uncertainties about entry, I was determined to come.

"Abdul Taib has been my idol since childhood for his wisdom in governing Sarawak. This is the last time I will be able to see him,” she told Bernama.

Zaahara, who is of Malay-Melanau descent, said she once had the opportunity to see the Father of Modern Sarawak up close during an event attended by Abdul Taib when he was the chief minister.

Meanwhile, Kuching Melanau Association president Faridah Osman said the passing of Abdul Taib, a Melanau native, is a significant loss to the community.

She said Abdul Taib had played a pivotal role in fostering unity among the diverse ethnicities and cultures of the state.

"He has done a lot for Sarawak, and from my involvement in the association, whenever we organise a state event, he would tell us to uphold the Sarawakian hospitality. I will always remember that,” she said.

At 7.50am Thursday, Abdul Taib’s remains were brought for a lying-in-state at the State Legislative Assembly atrium to allow members of the public, dignitaries and Cabinet members to pay their last respects between 8am and 11.30am.

The funeral prayer will be held afterwards at the Demak Mosque near his residence followed by the state burial at the family cemetery in Demak Jaya.

Abdul Taib, 87, breathed his last at a hospital in Kuala Lumpur at 4.40am Wednesday (Feb 21).

Born on May 21, 1936, Abdul Taib was the main figure who shaped the development of Sarawak during his 33-year tenure as the chief minister, making him the longest-serving chief minister in Malaysia. - Bernama

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