600 honour proud son of the Kelabits — national hero SI (B) Ngalinuh Bala

Former Deputy State Secretary Dato Ose Muyang about to place a traditional Kelabit headgear on Ngalinuh (in wheelchair) during the ‘Nebang’ ceremony, while Gerawat (standing, third from right) and others look on. (file photo)

MIRI, Sept 30: About 600 people, including some 250 Kelabits, converged here last night to honour the nation’s hero Sub-Inspector (B) Ngalinuh Bala @ Kilah Ratu.

Ngalinuh, who is now wheelchair-bound, is one of the last two surviving recipients of the Darjah Kebesaran Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa (SP – Grand Knight of Valour).

The SP award was created on July 29, 1960, and was gazetted on Aug 11, 1960. It is ranked higher than the Order of the Royal Family of Malaysia (DKM) that is awarded to Malaysian royalty. As the highest federal award, it outranks awards that carry the title of Datuk, Tan Sri or even Tun.

Among those present at the gathering in Pullman Miri Waterfront were State Assembly Deputy Speaker Dato Gerawat Gala, former Deputy State Secretary Datu Ose Murang, Army Field Commander (Eastern Command) Lt General Datuk Stephen Mundaw, Sarawak Police Commissioner Dato Azman Yusof and Rurum Kelabit Sarawak president Dr Philip Raja.

In his opening remarks, Gerawat urged young Kelabits to emulate the fighting spirit of their elders who had served the nation’s security forces.

“With such spirit and courage, we can achieve success,” he said.

Gerawat narrated to those present that Ngalinuh not only fought with the enemy even when he was shot and injured, he also made sure the enemy did not get or kill his colleagues.

“His platoon was outnumbered by the enemy, and they were also caught in a very disadvantaged position. This was because the enemy ambushed them from a higher ground,” said Gerawat, when reciting the heroic actions of Ngalinuh.

But due to Ngalinuh’s fighting spirit and effective leadership, he was able to fight off the enemy and save all of his colleagues.

“This is the fighting spirit that will help to sustain our community in this increasingly competitive and challenging environment around us,” he said.

Gerawat added that Ngalinuh’s achievement had made the Kelabit community proud.

“To date, you are the only one from the Kelabit community, and even from the Orang Ulu community, who has achieved the highest possible distinction for military service.

“Through your bravery award, your sacrifices and duty to the nation, all of us will forever be grateful to you,” he said.

Gerawat pointed out that the security forces were key assets that were safeguarding the country’s peace and security.

“The sacrifices made by these veteran heroes have allowed the peace and harmony that we all live in today to prevail,” he added.

At the event, Gerawat announced a RM10,000 allocation to the Rurum Kelabit Sarawak Association and RM7,000 to Ngalinuh.

Meanwhile, Dr Philip, who also spoke, said the association had listed out some 300 Kelabits who had served in the nation’s security forces before and after the formation of Malaysia.

“The Kelabits have contributed five per cent of our total population of 6,000 in the service, past and present; thus, we are indeed proud that our small community had contributed significantly to the peace and security of our beloved country,” said Dr Philip.

In his speech, Stephen suggested a merger of the army and police retiree associations for better benefits of its members.

“I believe that when these two associations merge, we can voice out members’ welfare more effectively to the state government,” reckoned Stephen.

The evening wrapped up with a traditional Kelabit ceremony known as ‘Nebang’ for Ngalinuh. — DayakDaily