Iban war hero Datuk Awang Raweng dies, to be accorded state funeral Monday


Awang was the country’s sole recipient of the George Cross medal award. – DayakDaily photo.

IBAN war hero Datuk Awang Raweng, who died in Sri Aman yesterday, will be accorded a state funeral on Monday (Sept 21).

The body of the country’s sole recipient of the George Cross medal will lie in state at the Civic Centre Kuching from tomorrow (Sept 20),  said Malaysian Armed Forces Veterans Affairs Department Sarawak director Sarawak Major Pahot Joll.

The public can pay their last respect to Awang at the centre from 2pm tomorrow, before his body is buried at the Heroes Grave at Taman Budaya the following day, Borneo Post reported.

Awang passed away yesterday at the age of 91 at his son’s residence in Sri Aman at around 2.15pm.

“His remains are now at his son’s home in Taman Padri, Sri Aman where a wake is being held. On Sept 20 (tomorrow), the remains will be brought to the Civic Centre in Kuching, for people to come and pay tribute,” said Pahot.

Meanwhile, Sarawak Public Communications Unit (Ukas) in a media advisory stated the the remains of the late Awang will be brought from Sri Aman at 10am tomorrow before arriving three hours later at Civic Centre Kuching where the body will be lying in state.

Awang was awarded the George Cross — the second highest award in the United Kingdom’s honors system after the Victoria Cross — 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.

In a previous interview, Awang had reportedly held a live grenade in his left hand after his right hand was severely injured in the gunfight, and dared the communists to attack him, subsequently holding them off and forcing them to withdraw, saving Private Hughes’ life in the process.

Prior to his death, the Nanga Skrang native was one of 20 surviving George Cross recipients in the Commonwealth, and the only one from Malaysia.

He had been entitled to meet Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace once every two years and receives a tax-free annuity of about £1,300 from the British government.

He 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 was also conferred an honorary master’s degree in education strategy by Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia in 2015.S