Taib’s remains being carried upon arrival at the Kuching International Airport while (from second right) Abang Johari, Awang Tengah and Raghad look on. – Photo by Chimon Upon

KUCHING (Feb 21): The remains of former Head of State Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, who passed away in Kuala Lumpur in the wee hours today arrived safely in Kuching at 4.25pm.

The body of the 87-year-old was flown from the air force base in Subang at 1.58pm to the Kuching International Airport (KIA) here on board the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) C130 Hercules aircraft.

Shortly after the aircraft landed, the remains of Taib was taken to the hangar where he was accorded military honors by personnel of the 11th Battalion Royal Malay Regiment and the police.

A seventeen-gun salute was also fired to mark Taib’s passing at the airport.

Among those who were at KIA to pay their last respects was Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg and his deputies Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, and Datuk Amar Dr Sim Kui Hian.

Also seen were Taib’s wife Toh Puan Datuk Raghad Kurdi Taib, former deputy chief ministers Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan and Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang, Minister of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah and his deputy Datuk Sebastian Ting, Minister for Women, Childhood and Community Wellbeing Development Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah.

The casket was then taken at 4.45pm to his house in Demak Jaya, Jalan Bako via a Lembaga Amanah Kebajikan Masjid Negeri Sarawak hearse.

Taib’s remains will be taken to the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly building tomorrow, where members of the public can pay their last respects between 8am to 11.30am.

After that, his remains will be taken to Masjid Demak for prayers before a state funeral at his family cemetery in Demak Jaya.

Taib passed away at a private hospital in Kuala Lumpur at 4.40am today, and funeral rites were performed at Masjid Negara in Kuala Lumpur.

He was born on May 21, 1936 and was the man who shaped Sarawak’s development when he led the state as chief minister for 33 years.