– Lim Guan Eng
The Malaysian Insider
23 June 2014
When I received a message on 21 June 2014 from Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua of Sdr Wong Ho Leng’s passing, whilst attending a thanksgiving ceramah for DAP’s victory in the Bukit Gelugor parliamentary by-election, I felt sadness over the loss of a dear comrade-in-arms, yet I marvelled at Ho Leng’s fighting spirit.
I was inspired at how long and hard Ho Leng fought in this impossible final battle before he succumbed to cancer. Many had already given up, including doctors who had given him a maximum of three months, when he was first diagnosed in December 2012.
For his perseverance and stamina, he had to thank his wife Irene who was his mainstay and pillar of strength. She gave him the belief that he could overcome and prevail. Holding out for so long, was as much his achievement as hers.
And Ho Leng had many achievements to his credit that both Irene and him can take pride in. He overcame great poverty and adversity to excel academically and realised his ambition as a lawyer. Achieving professional success, he joined the DAP on 19 April 1986, motivated by his desire to serve the community and his state to build a better future for all.
Ho Leng was a likeable politician even amongst his detractors in BN. I remembered speaking to the new Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem at the sidelines of the recent Conference of Rulers’ meeting in Kuala Lumpur, thanking him for the state’s RM1 million contribution for Ho Leng’s medical fees. Tan Sri Adenan said he liked Ho Leng’s personally and was saddened at Ho Leng’s medical condition, as he himself had gone through something similar a few years ago when he almost died of his heart ailments.
As a political novice in electoral politics, Ho Leng was anointed as a political giant killer when he upset then SUPP President Tan Sri Dr Wong Soon Kai in the state seat of Bukit Assek during the 1996 Sarawak state general elections. Wong Soon Kai retired from politics following his defeat, making way for Tan Sri Dr George Chan to take over as SUPP President. George Chan’s ascension as president laid the seeds of SUPP’s future disarray.
Even though Ho Leng lost his Bukit Assek seat in the 2001 Sarawak state general elections, he never gave up but continued to hold the lonely banner of DAP in Sarawak. Ho Leng became Sarawak DAP State Chair on 24 September 2000, a position he held until last year when he retired due to ill-health.
As a result of George Chan’s failure to stand up and condoned the widespread abuse of power and corruption under the long rule of Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud, the people of Sarawak looked for an alternative. Even though Ho Leng had just lost in the 2001 Sarawak state general elections, he never gave up but continued to press for democracy, full accountability and transparency of the corruption and abuse of powers. Ho Leng was rewarded when he was returned in Bukit Assek in the 2006 and again in the 2011 Sarawak state general elections. He also won the Sibu Parliamentary by-election on 16 May 2010.
From his successes in 2006 onwards, Ho Leng brought forth a new generation of young exciting DAP leaders, both men and women in Sarawak, to fight the mighty machine of BN Sarawak and brought SUPP to their knees to face the harsh fact that SUPP has betrayed their founding principles and ideals by becoming part of the very corrupt political machine they had opposed. Abdul Taib Mahmud was also forced to face the political reality that it was time for him to retire as Sarawak Chief Minister.
William Shakespeare had written, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them”. For Ho Leng and Sarawak, Ho Leng first had greatness thrust upon him by circumstances and then achieved greatness for a more democratic, accountable and transparent Sarawak.
To his wife, Irene and children, DAP records our deep gratitude for Ho Leng’s selfless service for the party, people and nation. Indeed may you be comforted not by words but by the deeds of Ho Leng who brought a positive difference in the lives of those around him especially for Sarawak. Ho Leng was truly a giant-killer and a political giant for Sarawak. – June 23, 2014.