KUCHING: The state’s sole surviving George Cross medal holder Awang Raweng can now expect brighter days ahead as the state government, through the Ministry of Social Development, will ensure that his gallantry is duly recognised.
Its minister Tan Sri William Mawan acknowledged that the ‘exemplary warrior’, who had helped to defend the Malayan Union against the communists in the 1950s, had been neglected of sorts.
“We don’t want to be accused of being uncaring so my ministry will try to look at how best we can help in improving his living condition especially when many others seemed to have enjoyed better deal than him.
“We want to show that the government really cares about gallantry award recipients because if we are not caring enough the young people will not be inspired in defending the country,” he added.
Speaking to reporters after meeting with Awang at his office in Bangunan Masja in Petra Jaya here yesterday, Mawan said it was rather unfortunate that the 83-year-old former Iban tracker had not obtained recognition like holders of Pingat Gagah Berani (PGB).
“I was told that he was seldom invited to federal and state historical ceremonies except for Commonwealth events.
“So for him to receive only the gallantry award from Great Britain and not the federal and state governments is something that we are going to look at now. It is true that he was attached with the British army but we have to remember that he fought to defend the Malayan Union and therefore he also deserves some kind of recognition from the Malaysian and Sarawakian governments as well,” Mawan said.
One of the ways the government can assist the forgotten warrior, he explained, is to construct a proper road to Awang’s longhouse in Nanga Skrang, Sri Aman apart from upgrading his wooden house built by the government through the Defence Ministry in 2006.
Upon the request from Awang himself, Mawan said he would talk to the relevant authorities to look for a piece of land in Sri Aman town for the veteran to build a house.
Meanwhile, he said, out of courtesy and respect Awang should also be invited as a guest during state ceremonies, such as Independence Day, National Day and so on.
“At the moment only PGB holders are usually invited so I will discuss with the state secretary to see whether we can also include our George Cross holder in the state’s invitation list.
“We want to invite him so that he will feel that he is part of us. Whether he will be present or not that is a different matter,” he said.
Mawan, who is also Sarawak Dayak National Union (SDNU) president, also said he would discuss with the Veterans’ Affairs Association (JHEV) to advise Residents and districts officers throughout the state on the list of veterans who should be invited as special guests.
Among those accompanying Awang yesterday were State Veterans’ Affairs Department (JHEV) director Lt Col Monday Juhid, Sarawak Rangers Veterans’ Association (SRVA) secretary Capt (Rtd) Mohd Johari Ibrahim and SRVA committee member Stanley Oscar Bryan.