Hundreds attend Celestine Ujang’s funeral service

Friends and family hug one another during the funeral service at St Joseph’s Cathedral yesterday.

KUCHING: Parishioners comprising friends and relatives packed the St Joseph’s Cathedral for the funeral service for the late Tan Sri Celestine Ujang Jilan yesterday.

Prior to the service, the people came to pay their last respects to the late Celestine at the front of the church. They cried and sobbed as they walked pass the open casket, and some gave hugs and words of condolence to family members.

The eulogy was read by his youngest daughter Priscilla. She said that Celestine’s  health started deteriorating rapidly last year and he had requested to go home to celebrate the new year eve in his own home, surrounded by family.

She likened her father to a Tapang tree that grew strong through the years despite coming from a poor family.

She said her father studied in a Bintulu primary school before coming to Kuching to study at St Joseph’s secondary school. He decided not to further his studies after Form 5, but chose work as an administrative officer in the civil service. Four years later, his hard work and dedication led him to be chosen to stand on a Barisan Nasional (BN) ticket in Kemena state seat which he won and represented for several terms. He was the first Iban to be appointed as the state legislative assembly speaker. He had also served in several portfolios in the state cabinet.

She also thanked the doctors for trying their best to sustain him, as well as families and friends who came to the house to pay their last respects.

The service started with all parishioners singing ‘Amazing Grace’. People still kept pouring in during the hymn.

The entrance to the church was adorned with many wreaths from well-wishers.

The late Celestine was then transported to his final resting place at Nirvana Memorial Park, Seniawan, Jalan Kuching-Bau.

He left behind wife Puan Sri Elizabeth Pawa, two other daughters Malvina and Angelina, and five grandchildren.

He passed away at a private hospital here on Wednesday after he collapsed at home.

At the time of his passing, he was an advisor to the Dayak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI). He was DCCI deputy president for two terms from 2008 until 2014 when Tan Sri Datuk Amar Leo Moggie was its president.

After retiring from politics in 2003, he became actively involved in DCCI and he was also credited with charting new direction for the Dayak music industry by coming up with Dayak Music Awards.

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