National hero, Datuk Awang Raweng, 104, who passed away in Sri Aman, about 200 km from here, last Friday was accorded a state funeral at the Heroes Memorial cemetery in Jalan Budaya today.
The funeral service which started at 10am at Dewan Suarah Kuching was solemnised by Reverend Canon Roannie W Cannidy in the presence of Deputy Chief Minister, Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah and State Secretary, Datuk Amar Jaul Samion.
Several state cabinet ministers, Malaysian Fifth Infantry Division commander and Army Eastern Field Command commander, Lt Gen Datuk Mohd Zakaria Yadi; Defence Advisor of the British High Commission, Group Captain Simon Hindmarsh; the deceased’s family members and members of the public were also present.
Uggah also read the eulogy for Awang, who is Malaysia’s sole George Cross Medal recipient, at the service, before Awang’s casket was brought to the cemetery with full military honours for the burial service.
Earlier, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg paid his last respects to the late Awang who had been laid in state at Dewan Suarah Kuching upon being brought from Sri Aman yesterday.
A former member of the elite Iban trackers during the British colonial rule, Awang died at 2.15 pm on Friday at his son’s residence in Sri Aman due to pneumonia.
He was awarded the George Cross medal, which was named after King George VI, for gallantry by the Queen of England in November 1951, in recognition of his bravery in battling 50 communists in the Kluang forest in Johor alone while defending an injured British soldier despite his own serious injuries.
Being a George Cross medal recipient, he had been reportedly flown to London each year to attend the reunion of the First Battalion of the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiments and had the opportunity to meet Queen Elizabeth II.
He also received a master’s degree (honorary) in Strategic Studies from Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia on Oct 27, 2015 and in 2018, he was awarded the ‘Panglima Setia Bintang Sarawak’, which carries the title ‘Datuk’ by the Yang di-Pertua Negeri of Sarawak, Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud.