KUCHING, Sept 21 — The demise of former Iban tracker and the nation’s sole recipient of the George Cross gallantry medal Sergeant Dato Awang Raweng is a tremendous loss not only to his family and friends but to the whole nation, said deputy chief minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.
“We have lost an illustrious hero who have sacrificed selflessly for his country, and a family man who gave back to his community without expecting anything in return. His legacy shall live on.
“He has shown the true spirit of ‘Agi Idup Agi Ngelaban’ (as long as I live, I shall fight) right to his last breath,” he said in his eulogy to the late Awang at the funeral Monday.
Awang passed away on Friday (Sept 18) at the age of 91 at his son’s residence in Sri Aman at around 2.15pm.
Uggah pointed out that Awang’s selflessness was exemplary as he acted voluntarily for the service of others knowing the potential risks or sacrifice made by taking such heroic actions.
“What really made us all Malaysians proud is that he lived to the spirit of our war cry ‘Agi Idup Agi Ngelaban’.
“Without a doubt, Sergeant Dato Awang Raweng was a hero in every sense,” he said.
The state government has accorded a state funeral to Awang at the Heroes Memorial here. Following the prayers at Kuching Civic Centre, the cortege proceeded to the grave site.
Uggah represented the state government in handing over the national flag to Awang’s son KK Panggau.
Awang was laid to rest at 11.45am, surrounded by all who had known, respected and loved him.
Among those present included British High Commission Defence Adviser Group Captain Simon Hindmarsh, Eastern Field Commander Lt Gen Datuk Mohd Zakaria Yadi, and State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion.
Earlier, chief minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg paid his last respects to the late hero at Kuching Civic Centre. He was accompanied by Cabinet ministers including Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Dato Sri Michael Manyin Jawong, Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah, Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, and others.
Awang was the nation’s sole recipient of the George Cross gallantry medal – the second highest award in the United Kingdom’s honours system after the Victoria Cross, which he received on Nov 20, 1951.
As a member of the Worcestershire Regiment, he fought off 50 communists while defending the position of an injured British soldier, Private G Hughes, in Johor in May that year, despite sustaining serious injuries himself.
Upon his retirement, he returned to his Nanga Skrang longhouse where he had served as Tuai Rumah until 2018.
Awang was awarded the Panglima Setia Bintang Sarawak award, which carries the title ‘Dato’, by Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud in conjunction with the Head of State’s 82nd birthday in 2018.
He left behind nine children, 24 grandchildren and 26 great-grandchildren to mourn his passing. — Borneo Post