Thursday, January 20

Nation mourns death of hero

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A TRUE PATRIOT: This file photo shows the late Kanang taking the salute during a recent national event. — Bernama photo

Country’s war hero Kanang dies of apparent heart attack, funeral this Sunday

KUCHING: The last surviving recipient of the country’s highest gallantry medal Sri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa (SP) Temenggong Datuk Kanang Langkau died suddenly early yesterday morning at the age of 68.

The national hero collapsed while watching television at his home in Sg. Apong shortly after he complained of chest pains.

He was immediately rushed to the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) but attempts to revive him were to no avail before being pronounced dead at 1.45am.

The state government has confirmed through the State Secretary office that he would be accorded a state funeral with full military honour.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu when met by reporters at the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) mortuary yesterday revealed that Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud had given the directive.

“The nation has lost a great warrior who had devoted his life to the state and nation during the insurgency. Risking his life to fight the communist in the name of freedom and democracy is truly what makes him a national warrior,” said Jabu.

A statement issued by the Information department here yesterday said the funeral would be held at St Thomas Cathedral this Sunday at 1pm before proceeding for the burial ceremony to take place at 3pm at the Heroes’ Grave at Jalan Budaya.

The public can pay their final respects starting tomorrow from 10am to 12pm and 2pm to 5pm and from 9am to 12pm on Sunday at the Civic Centre.

The retired Warrant Officer One (WO1) was among the very few people to be conferred the Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa (SP) and Pingat Gagah Berani (PGB) gallantry awards while still alive.

Kanang served in the 8th Royal Ranger Regiment until his retirement after serving in the military service for 21 years.

He was honoured for his bravery during an encounter with communist insurgents at Tanah Hitam, Perak in early 1980 during which he was shot three times.

Five insurgents and a soldier were killed while another was seriously injured in the battle.

He was then tasked to lead the Unit Combat Intelligence Platoon of the 8th Battalion Ranger to seek and destroy the group of communists in February 1980.

For his bravery in battle, he was awarded the SP and PGB medals by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Ahmad Shah on June 3, 1981.

Kanang was born in Julau, in 1945 and joined the service with Sarawak Rangers which was then part of the British army as an Iban tracker on April 21, 1962.

He was absorbed into the Malaysian Rangers when Malaysia was formed in 1963.

He was married to Helen Latai Ini and they were blessed with six children and eight grandchildren.

After the demise of his first wife in 2011 he married Brawang Chungsot.