Sunday February 3, 2013
Another hero passes away
By VANES DEVINDRAN
KUCHING: The youngest recipient of the country’s gallantry award, “Pang- lima Gagah Berani” (PGB), ASP (Rtd) Wilfred Gomez Malong, passed away around 7am yesterday. He was 63.
His wife, Angela Austin, who was by his side all the way, said he died like the true hero that he was, holding on till his last breath to the famous Iban motto/mantra, “Agi idup, agi ngelaban” (Fight as long as there is life) made famous by the Sarawak Rangers and then the Royal Ranger Regiment.
Angela said she was amazed by the strength her husband showed despite the pain he endured.
“I saw his survival spirit even at the last hour. It was extremely strong. I guess it was the same for the others (war veterans),” she told reporters at their home in Kampung Entingan here yesterday.
With grief visible on her face, Angela spoke of her late husband with pride and in a composed manner.
Glancing once in a while at her husband’s lifeless body just a few feet away, she recalled the remaining hours she had with him.
She said her husband had just undergone his second operation to remove part of his colon and was recuperating well. Gomez has been battling colon cancer since early last year.
He spent 13 days in Kuching Specialist Hospital where he was operated on, and was discharged last Wednesday.
She recalled that he was recovering well and was active. He was energetic and his voice was clear on Friday morning.
“It was only around 10pm that he felt pain in his stomach and we rushed him to the emergency unit of the Sarawak General Hospital,” she said, adding that though he was still alert, his condition soon deteriorated.
“Doctors told me that his (body) system was shutting down and his kidney was failing,” she said.
Prior to that, Angela said he managed to say his prayers in which he mentioned his love for his mother, Betty Kiai, his siblings, wife and children. That to her was a touching moment for he mentioned the names of his loved ones in his conversation with God to whom he asked for their well-being.
Gomez was the eldest of seven siblings and he had three children of his own.
Angela, 41, said the nation might remember her husband as a hero, but to her he was a very caring, soft-spoken and understanding life partner.
She said even when he was sick, he would crave foranice-cream — icy lime with a vanilla centre being his favourite — and somboi (dried prune).
“Before the last surgery, he wanted to eat ambal (bamboo snail) and thank goodness I managed to buy some and cooked it for him. That was his last complete dinner. After that, he just lost his appetite. It is all these little things like going grocery shopping together which I shall miss about him,” she said.
Gomez’s funeral is expected to be on Tuesday. He might be laid to rest at Kampung Entingan Christian cemetery near Kota Samarahan.
Gomez who hailed from Rumah Mandau in Lempaong, Betong received the Panglima Gagah Berani for his valour during an attack on a communist camp deep in the interior of Kanowit.
He served in the Border Scout as a police inspector.
He left the force in 1980 to read law in London and returned to Malaysia to practise law. He was a president of the Veterans Association of Malaysia for five years.
In 1989, he involved in the movie Farewell to the King starring Nick Nolte and directed by John Milius. The movie was shot in Borneo.
Wreaths bearing written condolences arrived at Gomez’s home yesterday from Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein as well as Sarawak police commissioner DCP Datuk Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani.