KUCHING: Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president Dato Sri Dr James Masing described the appointment of soldier Stephen Mundaw as Brigadier General, a recognition to “what the Dayaks have sacrificed and achieved in defending this nation.”
Masing, who is also Land Development Minister, said it should be an honour for Sarawakian of Iban origin, to be appointed as Brigadier General.
Masing was overjoyed for Stephen’s success because the government, particularly the Malaysian Army has finally appointed a Dayak to such high rank, an acknowledgement that only came after so many years.
Stephen who hails from Sg Melaban, Pakit in Sri Aman is the first Iban General in the Malaysian Armed Forces history.
Born on May 31, 1958 here (Kuching), he is an avid golfer and enjoys water sports particularly jet-skiing.
During his younger days, he was a formidable athlete and a natural born swimmer.
He represented Malaysian Armed Forces Under-23 team in hockey and squash.
When asked if the appointment is part of the 1Malaysia concept framework, Masing said: “It is both. His appointment is based on merits and 1Malaysia (concept).”
“Yes. I have talked to Brig Gen Stephen Mundaw two weeks ago and congratulated him on his appointment. It’s an honour to any Iban Sarawakian to be appointed as Brigadier General,” said Masing, who is also the Balleh assemblyman.
Stephen, a steadfast believer of the Royal Ranger Regiment war cry ‘Agi Idup, Agi Ngelaban’ (Never Say Die), was promoted to the current rank yesterday (Nov 1, 2010) and also assigned as the Commander of Ninth Infantry Brigade based in Sibu.
Deputy Parliament Speaker Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, who is also Santubong MP, congratulated Stephen stating that the latter truly deserves the post.
He said: “I would like to extend my congratulations to the Brigadier General and I am sure he deserves it. I am sure it was based on merit.”
“To be a general of an army is not for an ordinary leader. Certainly it must be on merit. It would be less meaningful if otherwise,” he explained.
Sarawak should be proud that an Iban is promoted to that position, said Wan Junaidi, who is also the Ex-Policemen Association chief.
“I hope the Army Commission will see more of the ability, talent and merit of Sarawakian officers in the army and other services for promotion to higher position in their respective services. This will augur well with the concept of 1Malaysia,” Wan Junaidi added.
“No one should be left behind,” he added.
Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) president Dato Sri William Mawan Ikom said the appointment was the reflection of Malaysian Army’s multi-racialism.
“I am sure the gallantry and quality of Iban trackers as well as the spirit of Sarawak Rangers is now manifested in modern day officers, for instance, in Brigadier General Stephen Mundaw,” said Mawan, who is also Social Development and Urbanisation Minister.
Mawan also congratulated the Malaysian Armed Forces for appointing Stephen to the rank and new commander post.
“I wish him the best. To have reached that point, he must have unquestionable dedication and commitment to serve. Other officers should emulate Stephen and serve with integrity and professionalism,” said Mawan, who is also Pakan assemblyman.
Sarawak Barisan Nasional (BN) secretary Dr Stephen Rundi Utom said Sarawak truly deserved the acknowledgement for the contributions and sacrifices of Sarawakians in the past in countering insurgents and securing Malaysia’s sovereignty.
“Obviously we are proud of his promotion and also as a personal recognition,” he said.
Such recognition also meant a lot for the whole Dayak community, he explained.
“We (Dayak) deserve it as we had fought hard and sacrificed a lot for the sovereignty of our nation,” said Dr Rundi, who is also Kemena assemblyman and the Public Health Assistant minister.