Chong Siew Chiang suffered discrimination and denied the opportunity to be a great judge from Sarawak but it opened the way for Chong Chieng Jen to be leading Malaysian political leader
On May 9, 2018, by peacefully and democratically changing the incumbent government for 61 years, Malaysians set an example to the world at a time when democracy worldwide is in general retreat to the forces of autocracy and authoritarianism that there is still hope in the democratic aspiration.
I always believe that Malaysia has the potential to be a world class nation in the words of Bapa Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman to be “a beacon of light in a difficult and distracted world”.
However, in the past few years, Malaysia has fallen on bad times, and many Malaysians dare not even own up to being Malaysians when overseas, because Malaysia was scorned and joked about for becoming a global kleptocracy as a result of the monstrous 1MDB corruption and money-laundering scandal.
May 9, 2018 is a milestone for Malaysia for on that day, Malaysians stood up and regained ownership and pride for Malaysia, and even went one step further, surprising themselves and the world as a beacon of light for flickering democracy in the world.
But we should not rest there. We must continue to be a world class nation, respected and admired by the world for our success as a multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-lingual and multi-cultural nation which is united, harmonious, democratic, progressive and prosperous.
Our next challenge is to show the world another example, how we can transform ourselves from a global kleptocracy into one of the leading nations in integrity.
In the pipeline will be the challenge to show to the world how we can transform the Malaysian Parliament which in the past half a century had continued to diminish the role and space of MPs with the Executive and the Prime Minister continuing to usurp the independent parliamentary role into an independent power centre which the Cabinet and Prime Minister must reckon with.
But we must aim for more world class benchmarks to be set by Malaysians, to have world-class jurists, judges, educationists, scientists, thinkers, etc.
In the past decades, we have driven out the best and brightest Malaysians from the county into the Malaysian Diaspora in the world – and a test whether we are succeeding in building a New Malaysia is whether our policy changes if governance and nation-building could attract Malaysians in the Diaspoa to come back to help rebuild a New Malaysia.
I want tonight to pay tribute to Chong Siew Chiang who together with Lim Sie Ming and others established DAP in Sarawak 40 years ago.
It was a difficult, challenging and uphill task for Siew Chiang, Sie Ming and others to set up Sarawak DAP and spread its wings throughout the state – as onerous and forbidding as the establishment of DAP Malaysia which is now in the 52nd year.
Siew Chiang contested in seven elections – three Parliamentary and four State Assembly – in the seventies and eighties, and narrowly missed elected on the DAP ticket on at least two occasions.
It was a long and arduous journey for Sarawak DAP, as it was for Malaysia DAP, and although we made the first Sarawak breakthrough in the 1982 parliamentary elections, scoring victory in the Kuching and Sibu parliamentary seats, we did not break the egg in Sarawak State Assembly elections until in the 1996 State General Elections, or some 18 years after the first DAP foray into Sarawak.
I pay tribute to the DAP Sarawak leaders, members and supporters for staying loyal and faithful to the DAP cause for a democratic, just and rightful place for all Malaysians in Malaysia over the decades, as many unsung heroes and heroines in the party have paid a heavy price for this political journey.
Chong Siew Chiang was himself a victim of injustices, even after he stepped down from active leadership of the DAP Sarawak.
About a decade after Siew Chiang stepped down from any leadership role of DAP Sarawak, he was slated to be made a judge in the High Court of Borneo. However, political forces improperly intervened and he was discriminated and denied a judgeship because of his previous role in bringing DAP to Sarawak.
Siew Chiang suffered discrimination and denied the opportunity to be a great judge from Sarawak but it opened the way for his son, Chong Chieng Jen to be a leading Malaysian political leader.
Shortly after Siew Chiang was denied elevation to be a judge, I persuaded Chieng Jen to join the party which started his political journey to be Member of Parliament and State Assemblyman for Kuching, Chairman of Sarawak DAP and now Deputy Minister for Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs.
If Siew Chiang had not been discriminated against and become a judge, I have no donbt that Sarawak would have produced a renowned judge going up all the way to the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court, with Sarawak producing a great judge like Sabah, which has produced Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, the first Sabahan to be made Chief Justice of Malaysia.
What was the country’s loss had been the DAP’s gain
The challenge to both DAP and Sarawak DAP is to achieve greater feats and scale greater heights than to be part of the ruling coalition in the country.