Former Sarawak Border Scout Nyayang an unsung hero

08 Aug 2022 09:08am
Veteran Sarawak border scout, Nyayang Angie, an unsung hero for all Malaysians - 123RF Photo
Veteran Sarawak border scout, Nyayang Angie, an unsung hero for all Malaysians - 123RF Photo
KANOWIT - It happened nearly five decades ago but the chilling memories of an incident that took place in the Lubok Garan area on March 30, 1973, remain firmly etched in Nyayang Angie’s mind.

He and three other members of the Sarawak Border Scouts were travelling in a boat in Ulu Sungai Kanowit on that day when out of the blue they heard gunshots and found themselves "bombarded” by bullets - they were ambushed by a group of communist terrorists.

"The four of us exchanged fire with the communists but one of our comrades was injured when a bullet hit his mouth,” recollected Nyayang, who is 91 years old now.

Speaking to Bernama after attending the Sibu Division Warriors’ Day celebrations at the Kanowit Heroes Monument here recently, he said the Lubok Garan incident occurred while he and his comrades were on their way back to their base at Pos Entabai after attending a function held in appreciation of their success in defeating several communist insurgents in an operation in Majau earlier that month.

"We were shot repeatedly... I just stood on the boat and returned fire. Their bullets pierced through our boat, causing it to spring a leak.

"Fortunately, we all had long lives and successfully overcame the attack although my comrade Chakat was injured after a bullet hit his mouth,” he added.

Nyayang was among the early members of the Sarawak Border Scouts, a special unit established in 1964 to serve as the "eyes and ears” of the police force during the Malaysia-Indonesia confrontation era.

Made up of people from various indigenous groups such as the Iban, Bidayuh, Kayan, Kenyah and Kelabit who had sound knowledge of their surrounding forests, the paramilitary squad also helped the authorities to fight against the communists who infiltrated into Sarawak from North Kalimantan.

Dicing with death
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During the time he was on active duty as a border scout, Nyayang, who is an Iban and hails from Ensiring, Julau, diced with death on several occasions.

Recalling the incident in Majau on March 1, 1973, he said he shot dead two communists, one of them being the deputy commander of the North Kalimantan Communist Party’s third regiment.

In October the same year, Nyayang was almost killed after he was shot by a communist.

"That incident had occurred in Ulu Lijan. I ‘bumped’ into a communist who was bathing in a river and I shot him dead. But I didn’t realise his comrade was somewhere close by and he fired several shots at me before running away.

"I guess it was not yet time for me to die,” he said, adding that one bullet, however, slightly scraped his back.

Then, on the day the nation was busy celebrating its 21st year of independence in 1978, Nyayang had another encounter with a group of communist terrorists in the Sungai Machan area. The valiant border scout shot dead two of them while another terrorist died after Nyayang struck him with a machete.

Unsung hero

Nyayang had attained the rank of corporal by the time his service as a border scout ended in 1986. Two years later, he was appointed headman of a longhouse in Kanowit.

He told Bernama it is impossible for him to forget his experiences of fighting with the communists as well as the mayhem they had caused, particularly in Kanowit and Julau.

He also said that the three comrades who were with him when they were attacked by the communists in Lubok Garan had passed on, adding that it saddened him that "they departed without any recognition for their bravery and services”.

"I’m hoping the government remembers me... I never ran away from the government. After I stopped working (as a border scout), I became a headman... a post I’m still holding,” he added.

He, however, acknowledged that he received the Sarawak Bentera Bintang medal while he was still in service and the Sarawak Ahli Bintang medal in 2017.

"But since my retirement, I’ve never received a pension. I just got a one-off payment, nothing else,” he said, hoping that either the state or federal government would take the initiative to identify veterans like him and offer them help in appreciation of their services to the nation. Translated by Rema Nambiar. - BERNAMA