Friday January 4, 2013
Passing of a heroic fighter
By YU JI
KUCHING: The passing of national hero Datuk Temenggong Kanang Langkau, a former member of the famed and fearsome Sarawak Rangers, has led to an outpouring of public grief here.
Deputy Parliament Speaker Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said Malaysia, and Sarawak within it, had lost “a man among few who dared to put their lives on the line so that others can live”.
Kanang died of a heart attack at 1.45am yesterday at the Sarawak General Hospital. He had been rushed there from his home at about midnight when he complained of breathing difficulties. He was 68.
Initial reports said he collapsed while watching television at home in Sungai Apong here.
Kanang was a Sarawakian who became the nation's pride for his bravery in fighting communist terrorists in 1962 and 1963 while in the service of the Malaysian Armed Forces.
Wan Junaidi said there were very few people like Kanang.
“The stability of this country was laid upon the blood and sweat of men like him. Their sacrifice during the time when this country needed such men has been the bedrock upon which a multitude of citizens could live in peace and harmony. This country and its prosperity in wealth and potential owes a great deal to the late Kanang.”
The late Kanang's personal friend Lt Col (Rtd) Fabian Wong said he felt immensely saddened upon hearing about the death of a “dear friend, whom I've known since 1964”.
Wong, who these days is a social activist with the Society for Kuching Urban Poor, last spoke to Kanang just a month ago.
“We called each other. We spoke about personal matters, including about our families.
“It's very sad to find out that he has gone so suddenly. I'm glad that while he was alive the nation honoured him with the top two highest awards. With his passing, I hope that this state recognises him with a hero's burial.”
Wong described the late Kanang as a “responsible” soldier.
Yesterday, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the decorated Iban war hero would be given a state funeral in Sarawak on Sunday.
Sarawak Rangers Veterans Association chairman Lt Col (Rtd) Robert Rizal Abdullah said he had future plans for Kanang.
“We have been trying to set up the Survival and Jungle Tracking Academy and we were very much hoping that Kanang would be one of our teachers,” Rizal said.
“It's very sad. We weren't personally very close, but I've always had the highest respect for Kanang. I think everybody did. On the occasions we've been together, he seemed so humble, despite his national honours. He was a very easy-to-get-along-with type of guy. He could also be very humorous. May he rest in peace.”
PM: He will be remembered