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Sabahans join in mourning
Published on: Saturday, August 23, 2014

Kota Kinabalu: Sabahans joined thousands of Malaysians nationwide to observe a minute of silence at 10.55am Friday as the remains of 20 of 43 Malaysians killed in the MH17 air tragedy over Ukraine in July arrived home.

The 150-strong crowd clad in white and dark attire showed up outside the Hyatt Hotel venue here as the country marked the National Day of Mourning in memory of those who perished in the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

They watched a live telecast of the victims' arrival at the Bunga Raya Complex at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport through a screen projector curtain.

Hotel staff, sympathisers and a State leader were seen holding white roses in their hands as they viewed the 20 caskets and urns draped in the Jalur Gemilang carried out from the special Malaysia Airlines aircraft and into the hearses.

A commentator called for a minute of silence after the last victim was carried out as the traffic police halted moving vehicles passing through Jalan Segama 2 while those present lowered their heads.

The crowd then moved to the nearby Waterfront Square adjacent to the hotel and threw white roses into the sea along with Sekong Assemblyman Datuk Samsudin Yahya who was coincidentally staying at the hotel.

"It's just a coincidence that I am here and decided to join in the procession to give my respects to the victims," said Samsuddin, who also extended his condolence to the families of MH17 victims.

"I hoped they will stay strong and accept that this is the call of Allah," he added.

Some 200 personnel from various agencies under the Communications and Multimedia Ministry participated in a similar event at the KKMM Integrated Complex in Kepayan, Kota Kinabalu.

On July 17, the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 departed from Amsterdam at 7.15pm Malaysian time but Ukrainian air traffic control lost contact with the aircraft about 50km from the Russia-Ukraine border.

The aircraft is believed to have been brought down by a surface-to-air missile, killing all 298 people onboard.

In the days that followed, the remains of those who perished in the air tragedy were sent to the Netherlands for identification even as authorities launched an investigation into the incident.

Based on news reports the remains of 30 Malaysians have been identified as of Aug 21.

Elsewhere, the 'Jalur Gemilang' national flag was flown at half-mast as the nation of 30 million stood united in mourning for those killed.

Many Malaysians opted to wear black on this day which had been declared a day of national mourning as they observed the minute of silence in remembrance of the victims.

The focus was on the ceremonial military honours at the Bunga Raya Complex at the KL International Airport (KLIA) accorded to the victims during which the announcement for the whole country to begin observing the one-minute silence was telecast live over radio and television.

The announcement came after all the 17 caskets and three urns bearing the remains of the Malaysian nationals, which had arrived aboard a MAS MH6129 flight from Amsterdam, had been placed inside 20 hearses.

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Hajah Haminah, who graced the event together with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, joined the next-of-kin of the victims at the sad occasion.

Also present at the complex were Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and wife Puan Sri Norainee Abdul Rahman, Cabinet members, Members of Parliament and foreign diplomats.

After it was announced that the nation observe a minute's silence, Muslims recited the al-Fatihah while non-Muslims offered prayers according to their respective faiths.

About 3,000 people of various races stood side by side at the Dataran Merdeka in central Kuala Lumpur as they observed the historic moment.

The scene was repeated at other locations in this capital city and across Malaysia as traffic came to a standstill to mark the sombre occasion.

Earlier, all aircraft movement at KLIA and neighbouring KLIA2 for low-cost carriers came to a brief halt as the special aircraft bearing the remains came in for landing.

As a mark of respect, many local newspapers opted for black and white front pages as numerous online news portals, including that of the Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama), chose similar colour tones.

Many shopping outlets in various parts of the country marked the occasion by toning down their in-house music and reminding patrons to be ready for the start of the moment of silence.

A number of major highways, including the Lekas Highway, Besraya Highway and New Pantai Expressway, closed their lanes for a minute in respect of the victims.

Malaysian missions abroad also flew the Jalur Gemilang at half-mast in observance of the day of national mourning.

Likewise, foreign missions here, such as the Japanese, Philippine and United States embassies, marked the occasion by flying their national flags at half-mast.

People held gatherings in the states to observe the one-minute silence.

In Negeri Sembilan, more than 3,000 civil servants gathered at Wisma Negeri in Seremban to observe the minute's silence.

In Pahang, Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob led 3,000 civil servants in marking the occasion at Dataran Setia, Wisma Sri Pahang, in Kuantan.

In Melaka, some 500 people comprising government personnel and the public, led by State Secretary Datuk Naim Abu Bakar, paid their last respects in silence at the Historical City of Melaka Square.

In Kelantan, about 200 military personnel said their prayers in silence for the victims at the Desa Pahlawan Kok Lanas Camp.

In Johor, people gathered at the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) Complex in Johor Baharu to observe the moment of silence, as did a congregation at the IKBN mosque in Pagoh.

In Perak, the occasion was observed by 500 Sekolah Tuanku Abdul Rahman students in Ipoh, as state Fire and Rescue Department personnel throughout Perak organised 'tahlil' sessions and recited the 'Yasin' and special prayers in memory of the MH17 victims.

In Selangor, some 100 Selangor government personnel as well as representatives from the Indonesian Embassy observed the moment of silence at a ferry terminal in Port Klang.

Activities at the Satok Market in Kuching, Sarawak, came to a brief standstill as traders and shoppers marked the moment of silence.

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