Adieu PPD Walter Lamat
Walter Lamat (second from right) witnessing the handing over of cheques by NSTP's Gray Player Charity event organised at the SK St. Luke, Sri Aman to assist selected primary schools in Sri Aman
How does one start to blog about a close friend and comrade in arms who has just passed away? Its never easy. It won't be easy. After all he was the most health conscious person that I had ever known. He plays badminton almost everyday, sometimes he would be my partner and sometimes he plays against me, exhibiting his beautiful drop shots at the net, sometimes successful and sometimes not. Its hard also because during official functions we would always meet one another. We would sit down and talk about sports and health almost immediately which is why its hard to believe. He rarely touches the Tiger cans like I do at longhouse functions, if I can recall, he never does. I would always commend him on his new look as he looked fitter every time we meet.
Mr. Walter Lamat watches as YB Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu ak Numpang paints at the Sri Aman Education Department Booth during Fiesta Sri Aman 2008 held at Padang KPSU Lama Sri Aman
I met Mr. Walter two and half years ago when I first started playing badminton in Sri Aman upon reporting duty here. Compared with the younger players who were mostly teachers, Mr. Walter and I became friends quickly as we were listed in the veteran category by our more younger competitors but I think they were too polite by saying that we were in the 'Boss' Category. When I paired with my staff from the Resident Office, he would pair with his best teacher player and we would battle it out on the court for hours. Joking in between and sometimes serious, it would be a very competitive game and when one side loses, the losing side will be required to pay for the shuttlecocks. It makes us look forward to square off for a revenge match the next day. That is Walter, always someone who is energetic and almost willing to keep up with the pace that is required of him be it at the court or at work. His commitment to work is something to be proud of as he would always be in the forefront when it comes to pursuing the betterment of education in Sri Aman. His cooperation was always appreciated and it was always prompt whenever I requested for it. There was no barrier between our departments even if he was with the Federal agency and we were from the State. His effort was acknowledged when he was both promoted in his Department and also awarded the Pingat Perkhidmatan Bakti (PPB) by the Sarawak Governor two years ago.
Walter sings Clement Joy song "Entara Dua" perfectly during SK Klassen's Sportsday in July 2010
As fast as we made friends, news of his departure also came as a sudden and unexpected for many. It came as a shock to everyone who knew him, colleagues, subordinates and former students. The day he left, I had not known that he was attending a function in Kuching. I was looking forward to another round of badminton with him as I had just resumed duty in Sri Aman after the 2010 year end holidays. It was to be a renewal of badminton rivalry to open up the 2011 curtain. Just as we would always meet at 7 pm at the badminton hall, his friend called me up at about the same time I left my house in full badminton war gear. The news was not good as I was informed that Mr. Walter had collapsed at the Kuching Waterfront during his jogging routine. They were unable to revive him at the Intensive Care Unit. I was stunned for a moment and slowly went back inside my house. I sat quietly in front of my Netbook hoping that the news was not true. There was a moment of denial for a while but it slowly sank in that Mr. Walter was indeed not with us anymore as more calls and SMSes flooded my handphone. This can't be.....Not Mr. Walter. To us he was an example of what being healthy was all about. His beaming smile and positive outlook whenever he delivers his speech of encouragement to the teachers and students is always an inspiration.
A formidable Education Officer: Mr. Walter poses with Cikgu Dennis in February 2010 during the YAB Prime Minister Dato' Sri Najib visit to Rumah Radin in Lachau
Browsing the pictures in my Netbook I came across something that I had meant to give Mr. Walter when the appropriate time comes. It brought a deep sense of sadness in my heart everytime I looked at it. This special picture which I had wanted to enlarge and print for him - but only when it was time to say farewell to one another during the end our official capacity in Sri Aman ~ something like a farewell present. It seems that I'll never get the chance to see that beaming smile on his face when he receives it. He had always talked about my meeting with the Right Honourable Prime Minister YAB Dato' Sri Najib Razak in March 2010. He was looking forward to an opportunity to meet the YAB Prime Minister also. This candid moment which I took of him greeting the YAB Prime Minister in February 2010 (earlier than me!) would have been a memorable going away present....but not this kind of sad farewell now.....
Mr. Walter Lamat welcomes YAB Dato Sri Najib Razak at SK St Martin Sri Aman on 22 February 2010 during the launching of the Rural Electric Supply Project at Rumah Radin, Lachau.
Mr. Walter at the Ketua Masyarakat Seminar Sri Aman Seminar held at Dewan Suarah Sri Aman on 16 Dec 2010: The smile everyone will miss
We will miss our PPD (Pegawai Pelajaran Daerah), as we fondly call him in Sri Aman......in fact all of Sri Aman will feel his absence. The badminton hall will feel empty without you Sir. Adieu and God Bless.