KUCHING: Sarawakian Kanang Langkau, one of Malaysia’s real heroes and a recipient of the country’s highest bravery award – the Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa (SP) – has declined offers to be made a “Datuk”.
The 68-year-old former Warrant Officer I, who killed six communist terrorists in his career, took three bullets in the chest and stomach and still returned to active duty, said he could not afford a Datukship.
“I am not a rich man. I am poor. If I am made a Datuk, I will have to dress up smartly and get a driver which I cannot afford,” he said when interviewed after a wreath-laying ceremony at the Warriors Monument at the Museum Garden here yesterday.
Kanang is the sole surviving Malaysian to have received both the Panglima Gagah Berani (PGB) and the SP, which is equivalent to the Victoria Cross, the British highest bravery award.
It is the highest award in the Malaysian Federal Ranking of Awards, outranking awards that carry the Datuk and Tan Sri titles. Yet, the SP does not carry any title and is not listed in the Federal Order of Importance. The award carries a memorial allowance of RM400.
Kanang, whom Wikipaedia describes as a famous Malaysian hero and soldier from the Iban community in Sarawak, said he felt sad during the ceremony for fallen heroes as some of his former colleagues had sacrificed their lives to defend the country against the communist insurgents.
“I am lucky as I am still alive to see my six children and nine grandchildren,” he added.
Kanang, who retired from the army in 1985, now lives in Sri Aman where some 500 communist terrorists laid down their arms and returned to society in the early 1970s.
He said the fallen heroes and war veterans who had fought against the communist insurgents should be given recognition by the authorities as it was their sacrifice and contribution that had enabled the country and people to enjoy peace now.
Kanang, an expert tracker, was tasked with leading 25 soldiers to route out the communists during an operation in Perak in 1979. After tracking for 11 days in unfamiliar terrain, the soldiers were ambushed by the insurgents. Kanang himself was shot thrice – in his chest and stomach.
But the indomitable Kanang, then a sergeant with the Eighth Battalion Malaysian Rangers intelligence unit, rallied his comrades and fought. His courage inspired the others to battle on and routed the enemy.
State Assembly Speaker Datuk Mohd Asfia Awang Naser led the ceremony to mark Warriors Day jointly organised by the 3rd Infantry Brigade and Ex-Servicemen Association of the Armed Forces.