Puan Sri Laila Taib, Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud’s wife who died yesterday from cancer, was buried at the Demak Jaya Muslim cemetary in Jalan Bako today.

Her remains were lowered into the ground at 1pm next to the grave of her mother-in-law Hamidah Yakub, who died on Jan 13, 2006.

The Sultan of Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, the Tengku Mahkota Johor Tunku Ibrahim Ismail and his consort Raja Zarith Sofia were at the funeral.

Present too were Sarawak Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Abang Muhammad Salahuddin Abang Barieng and Taib’s uncle, former Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Abdul Rahman Yakub.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who was on his way back to Kuala Lumpur after a two-day official visit to Brunei Darussalam, was also at the funeral together with his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is in Kuching on official duty, and his wife Puan Sri Norainee Abdul Rahman.

Also present were former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, his wife Tun Jeanne Abdullah, and several federal and state leaders.

Earlier, Taib, his family members and several VIPs performed the prayer for the demised at the Chief Minister’s official residence in Demak Daya. The prayer was led by state deputy chief imam Mohd Jorgi Suhaili, who also read the “talkin” at the burial.

Taib, who was in a white baju Melayu, was seen wiping away his tears when the “talkin” was read.

Laila, 68, who died at their residence at 3.45pm yesterday, leaves her husband, two daughters and two sons including Tourism Deputy Minister Datuk Seri Sulaiman Abdul Rahman, and 15 grandchildren.

Born Lejla Chaleck in Poland, Laila met Taib in Australia when they were students. They married in Adelaide on Jan 13, 1959 when Taib was studying for his law degree.

In 1962, Laila followed Taib to Sarawak and she became active in community work where she later became the president of Sabati, the Association of Wives of Sarawak assemblymen and MPs. She was conferred the Darjah Utama Yang Amat Mulia Bintang Kenyalang, a state award which carries the title, Datuk Amar, in 1988.

She was also the vice-president of the Pertubuhan Kebajikan Islam Malaysia (Muslim Welfare Organisation of Malaysia).

One of her legacies was the setting up of the Tabung Amal Kanser Laila Taib (Laila Taib Cancer Welfare Fund) aimed at helping the poor seek treatment for the disease.

As a mark of respect for the late Laila, today’s official programmes in Kuching including the one scheduled to be officiated by Muhyiddin, have been cancelled.

However, the presentation of welfare aid to flood victims took place at 9.30am as scheduled at Dewan Suarah, Kota Samarahan but Muhyiddin’s programme as Education Minister with the state’s educators at the Islamic Information Centre at 11.30am was cancelled.

Also cancelled were the official functions involving Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu, Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office Datin Fatimah Abdullah and Senator Datuk Seri Empiang Jabu.

— BERNAMA