Dunstan Melling: Gone but not forgotten
Date Posted : Monday 27-May-2013
Date Updated : Thursday 01-Jan-1970 07:30 AM
Date Updated : Thursday 01-Jan-1970 07:30 AM
KUCHING: Today is the first anniversary passing of the late New Sarawak Tribune Executive Editor Dunstan Melling Undau.
Also the Sarawak Chief Scout Commissioner at his demise, Melling succumbed to head injuries and reportedly died on the spot at a dangerous curve at Selepong near Sri Aman while on the way to Kedap, Saratok to get materials for an election supplement.
Prior to driving with his wife Jacqueline Bungai Gawan in their newly acquired 4WD, Melling conducted (his last) State Scout Dinner Committee meeting where this writer was also present. It was Saturday 26 May, 2012.
When receiving a call from his (Melling’s) number to my handset at the wee hour of 27 May (around 3.20am), there were contractions in my tummy for I felt something out of the ordinary had happened. And when I heard his wife’s voice saying that her ‘Apai Pat’ had died due to car crash, I simply could not believed it and thought it was a dream. How I wish it was. She was composed in the phone and said I was the first person she called but asked for my favour to call her daughter Nina, our (New Sarawak Tribune/Utusan Sarawak) Senior Manager Operations.
“Jang, I’m at the Sri Aman Hospital morgue now, please call Nina and Tim (Timothy Alexander, Nina’s hubby) for me,” she asked.
When I called Tim at the dead hour, just like me, he could not believe the news. He called me three minutes later just to confirm. How I wished it was just a dream.
Melling’s passing left a void in our New Sarawak Tribune, sister paper Utusan Sarawak as well as the Malaysian Scouts Association Sarawak Branch that he headed as State Chief Scout Commissioner and not to mention to his family in Kuching and Saratok.
Our fond address of each other was Jang – the wife also followed suit. Melling was my cousin from my mum and his biological father Kikih and adopted mother Sindun but he was my uncle from his biological mother Nawai anak Pipit, a cousin of my late grandma Kejuang anak Melling.
For his leadership and achievement, Melling characterised our ancestor Anya’s dream that all his (Anya’s) male descendants would become the leaders of men. In his dream Anya met some warriors from Panggau Libau, the folklore abode of Iban’s epitome of bravery Keling Gerasi Nading Bujang Berani Kempang, Jelingau ke Betugau Mayuh Rambang (Keling the bravest of men, the heartthrob adored by many).
True to his dream, Anya acquired vast farming land and other wealth. His eldest son Bungin became a Penghulu for the area.
Truly the late Melling, Anya’s great-great grandson was an example typing the leader of men as dreamt by Anya.
In the later part of our adult days, he was always inspiring for being a leading figure in youth movement, including winning the first Youth of The Year Award in 1983 and later various other accolades including having a stint as Malaysian Information Attaché in India and later helming the Sarawak Scout Movement as State Chief Scout Commissioner Chief where his commitment and integrity was second to none.
He readily acknowledged I was the first graduate from Melupa area but all along before getting his Advanced Dip In Management and later the MBA, I knew his capability.
This was because he was my idol since getting acquainted with him in 1962, but more so when he became Radio Iban news reader later. His voice was distinctive, his language and reading skill impeccable.
Much has been said of his many firsts but many of readers missed the glaring tributes given to him by those attending the Scout Fundraising Dinner at Riverside Majestic Hotel, here on 12 June, 2012 just two weeks after his demise, including by Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Mahmud and also by Tan Sri William Mawan Ikom as well by National Chief Scout Dato’ Seri Paduka Dr Haji Shafie Haji Mohd Salleh.
There were teary eyes during the tributes with screen showing his smiling faces and his famous quotation: “I may be a poor man, but if I were to die, I would die a happy man because I love helping people in as many ways I can.” His love for helping people is also shared by his widow Jacqueline and their children as well as grandchildren.
Gone for a year but my Jang is certainly not forgotten. Once again, may your soul rest in peace my dear cousin, friend and boss Dunstan Melling Undau.