Sunday January 6, 2013
Don’t belittle our hero
By SHARON LING & VANES DEVINDRAN
KUCHING: The nation’s war hero, the late Temenggong Datuk Kanang Langkau, deserves national recognition for his valour and bravery in fighting against communist insurgents without regard for his personal safety.
“The beneficiaries of Kanang’s valour include members of Pakatan. For them to think that he does not deserve national honour is a betrayal of all members of the armed forces who had sacrificed their lives so that Malaysians can now live in peace. Pakatan’s attitude on this matter is most dishonourable and distasteful,” the state's senior minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing said.
By “them” Masing meant an article headlined “Kanang bukan hero sebenar” (Kanang not a real hero) posted on the Suara Pakatan Rakyat website on Friday. The article by an unnamed writer questioned the government’s decision to give Kanang a state burial which it claimed would cost not less than RM1mil.
Meanwhile, state Barisan Nasional secretary-general Datuk Dr Stephen Rundi said he was baffled as to what was considered heroic in the eyes of the writer of the article.
“If he (Kanang) doesn’t deserve the honour, I don’t know what sort of sacrifice and service would deserve honour in their perspective,” he exclaimed.
“What kind of attitude is that! And these kind of leaders (Pakatan Rakyat) will not only hinder our progress but will ruin our vision 2020,” he said.
A friend of Kanang, Lt Col (Rtd) Fabian Wong, said whoever wrote the online article did not know what they were talking about.
“Countries the world over have their respective heroes who have been given awards for bravery,” he said.
“The UK has its Victoria Cross given to those who show courage (in their nation’s time of need). In Malaysia we have the Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa (SP). It is even higher than the title ‘Tun’.
“So who is the person or people who said Kanang is not a hero and that he does not deserve a state funeral?” he questioned.
Wong said to earn the SP required one to serve in the military. Thus the writer of the article was in no way qualified to even talk about the subject matter or comment on Kanang.
He said not only in Sarawak, but also in the whole of Malaysia and other countries, people would be angered upon hearing that their veterans were belittled.
“In the recent election campaign of the USA, notice that both sides never dared comment negatively on the military. Such is the respect they have for their heroes. Don’t let us take our soldiers for granted. They (soldiers) are heroes at their own level. They are in-combat heroes,” he said.
Sharing the same sentiment with Wong, Capt Johari Ibrahim (Rtd), a veteran of the Sarawak Rangers who had served with Kanang, was angered by the article.
“It’s talking utter rubbish. I served together with Kanang and I know the two incidents in which he was hurt and fought back. Kanang was shot, he took a bullet in his body to defend the country. I would like to see this fellow being shot at and see how he will react. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
“How can you say Kanang is not a hero, especially when he was given two gallantry awards? Nobody else in Malaysia has those two awards,” he told The Star, referring to the Panglima Gagah Berani (PGB) and Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa (SP) which Kanang received in 1980 and 1981 respectively.
According to the article, Pakatan Rakyat felt that a state burial for Kanang would be a waste and proof of the Barisan Nasional’s inefficiency in managing the people’s money.
Johari said it made him very angry to hear of the writer’s comments that Kanang did not deserve a state burial with full honours and that this was a waste of taxpayers’ money.
“To me the comments are criminal. What Kanang did cannot be measured in ringgit and sen — it’s priceless,” he said.
He added that Kanang and other military personnel had contributed to the nation’s peace and security.
“After 50 years of independence, for people to come out and say things like this is very bad. Before the writer comments about Kanang, he or she should talk to people like me who knew Kanang personally.”
Meanwhile, state PKR chief Baru Bian distanced the party from the website, saying it was definitely not theirs.
In fact, he said that persons like Kanang should be given due honour and recognition.