Awang Raweng conferred honorary master’s degree from UPNM

A photo of Awang taken after the graduation ceremony.

A photo of Awang taken after the graduation ceremony.

KUCHING: Sgt (Rtd) Awang Raweng, the nation’s sole recipient of the George Cross Medal has been conferred the Honorary Master’s Degree in Education Strategy at the 6th Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia (UPNM) convocation ceremony.

The 86-year-old was bestowed with an honorary degree in recognition of his services and deeds in protecting the country during the insurgency era.

The university’s pro-chancellor Tunku Panglima Besar of Kedah, Tan Sri Tunku Puteri Intan Shafinaz Sultan Abdul Halim, officiated at the graduation ceremony in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.

Former Armed Forces chief General (Rtd) Tan Sri Mohd Ghazali Mohamed Seth was conferred an Honorary Doctorate in Defence Human Resource Management, while a board member Brig Gen (Honorary) Tan Sri Datuk Mohd Kamil Jamil received an Honorary Doctorate in Mechanical Engineering.

Awang was enlisted with the British Army as a scout in December 1950. After one month of training, he was attached to the 10 Platoon, D Company, 1st Battalion Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment in Malaya.

He was conferred the gallantry medal for his act of valour following a skirmish with about 50 communists in Kluang, Johor, during a routine jungle patrol on May 27, 1951.

Two members of the platoon, the leading scout and section commander were killed while he was wounded in the thigh and right arm. Despite his injury, Awang managed to pull a British officer Pte Griff Hughes to cover. For five hours Awang remained resolute in standing his ground. He returned fire, repulsing every attempt by the insurgents to advance. After running out of ammo, he clasped a grenade and fended off communists attack for another 40 minutes before reinforcement arrived, forcing the insurgents to retreat. The skirmish lasted six hours.

Awang was only 22 at the time of the incident while Hughes was 19. He was involved in a few other skirmishes before he left the service.

He was conferred the George Cross Medal on Nov 20, 1951. The George Cross is ranked of equal precedence to the Victoria Cross, the highest military decoration awarded for valour to members of the armed forces of various commonwealth countries and previous territories of the British Empire.

Today, he is only one of nine George Cross and 20 Victoria Cross survivors. Close to 500 Iban trackers served during the Malayan Emergency of 1948-1960.

The decorated war hero is now a longhouse chief at Nanga Skrang, Sri Aman. He receives monthly allowance from both the British and Malaysian governments.

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