Saturday, March 23

Heavens open as James Wong laid to rest


LIMBANG: The heavens opened as Sarawak’s veteran political leader Datuk Amar James Wong was finally laid to rest late yesterday morning.

The seven-term Limbang assemblyman was buried at his family’s plot at Jalan Pandaruan.

Rather aptly, 48 years prior, on July 22, 1963 — the day that Sarawak was granted independence — Wong was appointed the state’s first Deputy Chief Minister.

Politicians from both sides of the political divide; community leaders; family members, including from Brunei; friends; and well-wishers from various communities such as the Tabun, Iban, Kedayan, Bisaya, Brunei Malays and Chinese gathered as early as 8am at the family’s ancestral residence to pay their last respects.

Among those present were Batu Danau assemblyman Paulus Palu Gumbang, Sarawak National Party (SNAP) president Edwin Dundang Bugak, SNAP secretary-general Stanley Jugol, former SNAP secretary-general Datuk Justine Jinggut, and Limbang District Officer Anyie Lah.

Friends fondly recalled their experiences with Wong, who they described as always fair and spoke his mind with a healthy dose of humour and sense of poetry.

Wong’s widow Datin Amar Valerie bade him a tearful farewell before Archdeacon Canon Solomon Cheong from St Columba’s Church, Miri led the prayers.

The funeral party then processed around the town for a grand, but solemn final send-off.

Upon their arrival at the burial ground after 11am it began to drizzle.

Minutes later, as the casket was lowered into the ground, it began to pour, as if signifying the state’s tears for her faithful son.

All those present were drenched but continued to wait patiently for the burial to be completed.

When the tomb was finally sealed around noon, as if on cue, the rain also came to an end.