IT seems almost poetic that Dato Sri Tra Zehnder returned to the Lord yesterday, July 22 — the day of Sarawak’s independence 48 years ago or as blogger Rimau Atas Kerusi calls it, Sarawak Day.
Dato Sri was a true Sarawakian of Substance.
She was the first woman to achieve so many things in the State. She was the first woman Council Negri Member, the first woman Temenggong, and the first woman Majlis Adat Istiadat head.
Dato Sri represented the Sarawak Dayak National Union (SDNU) at the Cobbold Commission meeting regarding the formation of Malaysia.
She always had a very dignified manner about her and you couldn’t help but be in awe despite her pint-sized frame.
On Sarawak Day, the State’s first Deputy Chief Minister and fellow Sarawakian patriot Datuk Amar James Wong was laid to rest.
He was Tra’s colleague in the Sarawak National Party (SNAP) and became president in 1981. She was women’s wing chief from 1969 to July 1983.
The good Lord also chose to call Dato Sri Tra home on Sarawak Day.
May you also rest in eternal peace in the loving arms of our Father in Heaven Dato Sri.
And may Sarawakians never ever forget what you have achieved for our beloved State.
Report from The Borneo Post:
Dato Sri Tra Zehnder passes away
Posted on July 22, 2011, Friday
KUCHING: Patriot and female pioneer of Sarawak politics as well as the champion of local women’s rights, Dato Sri Tra Zehnder passed away at the age of 84 at about 9pm tonight at the Sarawak General Hospital.
Tra was born Philomena Tra in Miri on Oct 25, 1926 to Inting Jemat and Sara Unang, both Ibans from the old Simanggang division.
Tra boasts the envious record of being the first lady member of the State Legislative Assembly (DUN), known as Council Negeri back then. She served from 1960 till 1963.
She was also the first woman Temenggong in the state following her appointment as Iban Temenggong of the First Division from July 1988 till February 1996.
Tra was also the first woman to head the Majlis Adat Istiadat Sarawak, from March 1996 to 2002.
In May 1957, she founded the Sarakup Indu Dayak Sarawak (SIDS) and served as honorary secretary till 1960 before being appointed president from 1964-1966.
In 1962, she represented the Sarawak Dayak National Union (SDNU) at the Cobbold Commission meeting.
One very significant contribution of Tra to the Dayak community and the state today was her untiring efforts to get the annual Gawai Dayak recognized as an official celebration.
She had wanted June 1 of every year to be set aside to be called Dayak Day in recognition of the Dayaks’ existence in the state.
She has received numerous State and Federal Awards over the years, and last year she was honoured with the Datuk Patinggi Laila Taib Award.
Although she has made history by being a first in many things, she will ultimately be remembered as an Iban woman patriot in Sarawak.