We had referred to him as the Joker in our office. The two meanings of Joker apply here ~ firstly the Joker Card in a card deck, its multipurpose use during card games puts one at a certain advantage during card games. Our senior clerk, Mike, was that critical link in the administration of my Development Section at the Sri Aman Resident Office. His experience knows no boundaries. Secondly, his special Joker role was that unique ability to turn the silence in our office into roaring laughter. But Mike was also a heart patient with a fixed timeline and he knows it. He had been informed by his doctor that he has fifteen years after his heart operation twelve years ago. He has been undergoing treatment all this while and he also had that ability to use laughter for he feels that it is the best medicine for him and his colleagues. My last moment with Mike was on Friday, the 11th of September 2009, at the stroke of 5:00 pm, we both packed up for the weekend and he gave that cheeky grin with that all too familiar word. "See you next week Timbalan Residen" and waved goodbye as he strutted out of the office. He had to remind me so much needs to be done next week before the Hari Raya Holidays start.
Mike's most anticipated project was the implementation of E- Government application in our office and he has just recieved his Smart Card. Mr. Micheal was computer savvy for his age, always in the frontline when it comes to simplifying work with the use of information technology.
Mike was also a friend who shares his knowledge freely. (From left) Mr. Micheal Edward, Mr. Latif and myself during the Batang Ai By Election in April 2009. I can say Mr. Micheal is the dictionary for the constituencies in Sri Aman Division be it for the State Elections and Parliamentary Elections. He had served several times with the Elections Commission when elections are held. Most Ketua Tempat Mengundi (KTMs) would scramble to have him as part of the team. He shares his experience in life and also its ups and downs, his determination to see also that his family are well taken care of. I was surprised that he would even refuse to be considered for promotion outside Sri Aman if there was such an exercise. Many a times I had requested him to submit his personal particulars and service records so that I can recommend him for advancement as he had served for more than twenty two years without promotion, he'll just smile and tell me he will give it to me soon. For the record he had recieved the Excellent Service Award twice.
After attending the late Mr. Augustine's funeral mass at St. Joseph Cathedral, Kuching, I was greeted by this view at the late Micheal's house. He was gone within twenty four hours of saying goodbye for the weekend. Maybe he had wanted me to remember him that way. Cheerful and all smiles and laughter. Its something I have not prepared myself for and I have never lost a soldier in my team, a key personnel, while we are in this War to deliver development to the rural corners of Sri Aman Division. He was an expert in his field and it would be difficult to replace someone with Mike's capability. He had just celebrated his 50th birthday at the end of July 2009. Ironically, Mike was due to recieve his Long Service Medal from the Right Honourable Chief Minister this July 2009 in Betong but somehow his name was not in the medal recipient list when the invitations came in. He lays in the coffin with his special suit which was supposed to be used for receiving that medal.
The final farewell - the hearse carrying the late Mr. Micheal Edward and the motorcade following it went into the Resident Office compound for a final time on Tuesday morning led by the Resident's Office vehicle.
Rest in Peace Micheal Edward the Lion Hearted
This war goes on without you Mike, and we will badly miss the Joker in you. We will carry on this fight for you. I thank you for showing me how to serve with honour irregardless of what rank you are, I am humbled to learn from you. An Honour To Serve.