Celestine Ujang remembered for his fierce loyalty, sacrifices

Abang Johari (second from left) together with his wife Datin Patinggi Datuk Juma'ani Tun Tuanku Bujang (left), Ujang's widow Puan Sri Elizabeth Pawa (third from left) and family members standing over Ujang's casket at his house in Tabuan Jaya, Kuching.

KUCHING: ‘Unity’ and ‘loyalty’ were the prevalent words various state ministers used to describe the late Tan Sri Celestine Ujang.

During the wake at his house in Tabuan Jaya here earlier today, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said because of the late Ujang’s loyalty to the state government and Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) and strong belief in unity, it has made Sarawak and its state government what it is today.

“During the Ming Court incident in 1987, he sacrificed his ministerial post to make way for others, because he believed that it will bring about unity among PBB at the time. Despite various party members leaving the party during that incident, he was among some other veteran leaders who stayed put in the party.

“And now we are as strong as ever, all thanks to him,” said Abang Johari.

Hundreds of family members and friends as well as state ministers attended the wake for the late Tan Sri Celestine Ujang at his house in Tabuan Jaya, Kuching.

Abang Johari said he was among the luckiest second generation PBB politicians who had the privilege to work under Ujang, and cherished all the lessons he had learned throughout working under the latter.

“When we had the (Ming Court) crisis, he volunteered to accommodate our Barisan (BN) friends from other parties to join the government by sacrificing his post and giving cabinet seats to them. That was the sacrifice he made which eventually led to Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) joining BN and part of the state government at that time. In other words he set aside his personal interest for the sake of government stability,” he said.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said Ujang’s complete faith in unity was the greatest thing that had happened not only to Sarawak but also to the Dayak community in the state.

He said Ujang was very committed in upholding unity among the Bumiputeras in the state and did not condone extremism.

“During the Ming Court incident in 1987, Dayakism was very much at the forefront. Committed to making sure that unity was being upheld, he managed to convinced the people that extremism was not the way to go, and all Bumiputeras in the state should be united if they were to move forward,” said Uggah.

Abang Johari (second from right) speaks to reporters during the wake for the late Tan Sri Celestine Ujang at the latter’s house in Tabuan Jaya, Kuching. Also seen is Ujang’s widow Puan Sri Elizabeth Pawa (centre) and (from left) Minister of Tourism, Arts. Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, Juma’ani, and Uggah.

Assistant Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin pointed out that when he was a council member of Curtin University Malaysia together with Ujang in the late 90s, Ujang had always stressed on the importance of helping the young people to having access to tertiary education.

“I was youth leader for Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) while he was youth leader for PBB at the time (early 90s). We were together the council members of Curtin University as well. He showed great dedication in ensuring young people had access to tertiary education.

“I learned a great deal from him during our time working together,” he said.

Meanwhile, Datuk Seri Rohani Karim said Ujang had always been a very cheerful and vibrant person despite his age.

She said whenever there was a karaoke event at functions attended by them, Ujang had always requested for his favourite song “The Young Ones” by Cliff Richards.

“We the later generation of PBB are lucky to have him as the earlier generation who managed to lead the party through thick and thin. From that we have learned a great deal and we are indebted.

“Everything we do now was passed from his generation, and is still being practised. That is what has made our state government and party what we are now.

“In fact, if you mention his name, many veteran politicians throughout Malaysia will know him. That is how great of an impact he had had for the state,” said Rohani.

The funeral is scheduled for this Saturday, Jan 13 at the Nirvana Memorial Park, here. — DayakDaily