KUCHING: The remains of the late war hero Datuk Awang Raweng, who died on Friday at the age of 104, was brought to the Dewan Suarah building here to lie in state so that people can come and pay their last respects to the nation’s sole George Cross medal recipient.
The body of the late Awang, a former member of the elite Iban trackers during the British colonial era, was brought to the hall from his hometown in Sri Aman today.
Sarawak State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion, who will represent the state government in leading the memorial service, said the late soldier would be honoured with a state funeral conducted with military protocol.
Among the state dignitaries who paid their last respects were Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing and former Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang.
Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg is expected to pay his last respects tomorrow, before Awang”s body is taken to St Thomas Church and than laid to rest at the Heroes Grave at Taman Budaya here.
Awang died at his son, Panggau Awang’s residence in Taman Padri, Sri Aman, about 200 kilometres from here, at 2.15 pm on Friday.
He came to Malaya as an Iban Tracker around December 1950 before being absorbed into the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment.
For his dedicated service, he was awarded the George Cross, named after King George VI, for gallantry by the Queen of England in November 1951. It was in recognition of his fight against 50 communist terrorists in the Kluang jungle, Johor, alone while defending an injured British soldier, despite sustaining serious injuries himself.
The late Awang was reported to have flown to London 20 times to attend the reunion of the First Battalion of the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiments. His presence at the event was not as a regular guest, instead he was considered a dignitary and was celebrated as a hero.
He also got the opportunity to meet Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the royal family at Buckingham Palace, in addition to receiving a special allowance of £100 (RM494) every month from the British government.
The late Awang was also the recipient of the Panglima Setia Bintang Sarawak award, which carries the title ‘Datuk’ bestowed by Sarawak Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud in 2018.
He also received the Malaysian Service Medal in appreciation of the sacrifices he made for the country.