KUCHING - Sarawak's leaders have paid tribute to the late Tun Abdul Rahman Yakub, hailing him as a 'golden son' who will be missed.
Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem said Rahman was always present at Sarawak's historic moments, from the formation of Malaysia in 1963 to the formation of the first coalition state government in 1970 and the surrender of the communists in 1973.
"Whenever there was a historical and critical moment for Sarawak he was there at centre stage.
"We have lost a golden son of Sarawak and Malaysia and we will miss him," Adenan said when met at Rahman's home on Friday night.
Rahman, 87, passed away after a long illness at Normah Medical Specialist Centre here at 9.30pm on Friday.
He was Sarawak's third chief minister from 1970 to 1981 and subsequently served as Yang di-Pertua Negeri from 1981 to 1985.
Sarawak's current Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud, who is Rahman's nephew, said he was greatly saddened by his uncle's passing.
"He contributed so much to Malaysia and Sarawak. He was one of very few people left who were involved in the formation of Malaysia," he said, wiping away tears.
State Housing Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said Sarawakians had lost a great leader who served the nation at both state and Federal levels.
"In terms of education, he will be remembered for founding Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).
"He also helped many Sarawakian students to pursue higher education," he said.
Meanwhile, the state government announced that all flags would be flown at half-mast on Saturday to mourn Rahman's passing.
His remains will be brought to Masjid Jamek in Petra Jaya here for prayers and final respects on Saturday morning.
Members of the public can pay their last respects from 10.30am to noon and VIPs from 11.30am to 12.30pm.
The late Rahman will be laid to rest at the Semariang Muslim cemetery.