Liow Tiong Lai

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Liow Tiong Lai
Liow Tiong Lai in London in 2017
Liow in 2017
Minister of Transport
In office
27 June 2014 – 9 May 2018
MonarchsAbdul Halim
Muhammad V
Prime MinisterNajib Razak
DeputyAziz Kaprawi
Preceded byHishammuddin Hussein (Acting)
Succeeded byLoke Siew Fook
Minister of Health
In office
19 March 2008 – 15 May 2013
MonarchsMizan Zainal Abidin
Abdul Halim
Prime MinisterAbdullah Ahmad Badawi
Najib Razak
DeputyAbdul Latiff Ahmad (2008–2009)
Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin (2009–2013)
Preceded byOng Ka Ting (Acting)
Succeeded bySubramaniam Sathasivam
Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports
In office
14 February 2006 – 18 March 2008
Mizan Zainal Abidin
Prime MinisterAbdullah Ahmad Badawi
MinisterAzalina Othman Said
Preceded byOng Tee Keat
Succeeded byWee Jeck Seng
10th President of Malaysian Chinese Association
In office
21 December 2013 – 4 November 2018
DeputyWee Ka Siong
Preceded byChua Soi Lek
Succeeded byWee Ka Siong
Member of the Malaysian Parliament
for Bentong
In office
29 November 1999 – 9 May 2018
Preceded byLim Ah Lek (MCA–BN)
Succeeded byWong Tack (DAPPH)
Majority10,715 (1999)
16,839 (2004)
12,549 (2008)
379 (2013)
Personal details
Born (1961-10-13) 13 October 1961 (age 61)
Jasin, Malacca, Malaya
(now Malaysia)
Political partyMalayan Chinese Association (MCA) (since 1981)
Other political
Barisan Nasional (BN) (since 1981)
Perikatan Nasional (PN) (since 2020)
SpouseLee Sun Loo
Alma materNational University of Malaysia
University of Malaya
OccupationPolitician, nutritionist

Tan Sri Dato' Seri Liow Tiong Lai (simplified Chinese: 廖中莱; traditional Chinese: 廖中萊; pinyin: Liào Zhōnglái; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Liāu Tiong-lâi; born 13 October 1961) is a Malaysian politician who served as Minister of Transport, Minister of Health, Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports in the Barisan Nasional (BN) administration under former Prime Ministers Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Najib Razak as well as former Minister Azalina Othman Said from February 2006 to May 2018. He also served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bentong from November 1999 to May 2018. [1] In addition, he served as 10th President of the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), a component party of the ruling BN coalition, from December 2013 to November 2018.


Born in Jasin, Malacca in 1961, Liow had ambitions of being a doctor but graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Nutrition) from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) instead.[2] He later obtained his MBA from the University of Malaya.[3]

He is married to Puan Sri Lee Sun Loo and has three children. He is a strong advocate of healthy eating, especially eating organic food.

Political career[edit]

Liow officially joined the Malaysian Chinese Association in 1981. Soon after graduating from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in 1986, he joined MCA as a research assistant with a monthly salary of RM700. He became press secretary and later political secretary to MCA deputy president Lim Ah Lek from 1989 to 1999.[1] After two decades of steady rise in the party, he was elected as MCA Youth Chief in 2005 and was elected as a vice-president in 2008.

Liow was first elected as Member of Parliament for Bentong in 1999. In 2006, he was appointed as deputy minister of youth and sports in a Cabinet reshuffle. Following the 2008 general elections, Liow became Minister of Health under Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Call for second Deputy prime minister[edit]

In October 2008, Liow, who was the outgoing national youth chief of the MCA, raised the prospect of a second deputy chairman of Barisan Nasional to be appointed from among its component parties. The call was made at the MCA's internal party elections. As the deputy chairman of Barisan Nasional would be appointed as deputy prime minister, it would mean creating a second deputy prime minister position. Observers felt that Liow's proposal was simply a gimmick for him to win the internal MCA party elections.

While MCA accepted UMNO's leadership of the Barisan Nasional coalition, MCA felt that its seniority in the coalition should be reflected through a second deputy chairman's position that would be filled by the MCA. Liow said, "MCA is the second largest component party. The proposed deputy president should be represented by the MCA."[4]

Various MCA leaders backed Liow's proposal. Wee Ka Siong, the incoming MCA youth chief, said: "It (Barisan top leadership) must be well represented. We don’t want to see any kind of perception that Barisan is nominated by one or two parties. We don’t want to paint a picture where Barisan is dominated by one party and its decisions are accepted by the rest." Chan Kong Choy, MCA's deputy president, said: "The history in Barisan Nasional shows that there is no hard and fast rule that only the senior leaders of any party can automatically assume the positions in the coalition. Tun (then Tan Sri) Michael Chen (a former MCA deputy president) was the Barisan Nasional secretary-general in 1974."[5]

In response to Liow's call, then Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said, "The present Barisan setup is still workable. There is a history behind why the Barisan chairman is the Prime Minister and the deputy chairman is the Deputy Prime Minister and all the heads of the component parties become vice-chairmen. Since 1974 when Barisan was formed, it has been working very well. I don't think it is correct to say you cannot express your views because your post is only a vice-chairman. Sometimes you come and don't say anything at all, then even if you become deputy, it's useless."[6]

Liow had planned to raise the issue at the Barisan Nasional level after the MCA had approved it. After winning his internal party elections, Liow, who had become the new MCA vice-president, said: "One step at a time. Let us reform Barisan first. We reform Barisan, (and only) then we will reform the government."[7]

2009 MCA crisis[edit]

From late 2009 to early 2010, Liow became embroiled in a leadership crisis in MCA, vocally opposing the "Greater Unity Plan", a temporary political alliance between the factions aligned to president Ong Tee Keat and deputy president Chua Soi Lek.[8][9] Liow led a third faction pushing for new elections, but was unable to persuade two-thirds of the central committee to resign, which would have triggered an election under the party constitution.[10][11]

The crisis came to a close after Chua resigned on 4 March 2010.[12] The subsequent election saw Chua being elected president, while Liow defeated Kong Cho Ha in the contest for deputy president.[13]

MCA presidency[edit]

In the 2013 general election, MCA suffered its worst electoral result in its history. Liow himself barely survived in his own parliamentary seat, winning by a majority of only 379 votes.[14] MCA had previously passed a resolution not to take up cabinet posts in the government if it failed in the 13th general election.[15] As a result of its poor performance, Chua announced that MCA would not take up its allotted cabinet posts, and Liow therefore was not appointed to a cabinet position.[16][17]

In the following party poll for the presidency, Chua did not enter the contest,[18] and Liow defeated Ong Tee Keat and Gan Ping Sieu, and was thus elected President of MCA on 21 December 2013.[19] Shortly after Liow was elected, the MCA convened an extraordinary meeting to reverse several resolutions, including the resolution that stipulated that MCA members should not serve in federal and state governments.

The cabinet was reshuffled on 25 June 2014, and Liow was appointed as Minister of Transport in the aftermath of the MH370 incident.[20][21] He was sworn in as Minister of Transport by Yang Di-Pertuan Agong on 27 June 2014.

In the aftermath of MCA's poor showing and Barisan Nasional's defeat in the 2018 general election, Liow announced that he will not stand for re-election in the next party elections.[22][23][24] He is eventually succeeded by Wee Ka Siong.[25][26][27]

In popular culture[edit]

In 2009, Liow made a special appearance playing himself in a short film "Healthy Paranoia" of the 15Malaysia project commemorating Malaysia's independence.[28][29]

In a six-minute-long short video released in conjunction with the 2017 National Day celebrations entitled "Citizens" (Chinese: 国民), co-written and co-directed by Pete Teo and Liew Seng Tat, Liow played double roles as a minister and a citizen conversing to each other on the spirit of nation building.[30][31][32]

Election results[edit]

Parliament of Malaysia[33][34][35]
Year Constituency Votes Pct Opponent(s) Votes Pct Ballots cast Majority Turnout
1999 P083 Bentong, Pahang Liow Tiong Lai (MCA) 23,104 63.92% Abdul Wahab Sudin (KeADILan) 12,389 34.27% 36,996 10,715 72.59%
2004 P089 Bentong, Pahang Liow Tiong Lai (MCA) 27,144 72.02% Abu Bakar Lebai Sudin (DAP) 10,305 27.34% 38,689 16,839 73.46%
2008 Liow Tiong Lai (MCA) 25,134 66.35% Ponusamy Govindasamy (PKR) 12,585 33.22% 39,168 12,549 73.01%
2013 Liow Tiong Lai (MCA) 25,947 50.25% Wong Tack (DAP) 25,568 49.51% 52,627 379 84.52%
2018 Liow Tiong Lai (MCA) 23,684 42.98% Wong Tack (DAP) 25,716 46.67% 55,106 2,032 83.40%
Balasubramaniam Nachiapan (PAS) 5,706 10.35%
2022 Liow Tiong Lai (MCA) 24,383 36.58% Young Syefura Othman (DAP) 25,075 37.62% 66,657 692 76.57%
Roslan Hassan (BERSATU) 16,233 24.35%
Wong Tack (Independent) 798 1.20%
Mohd Khalil Abdul Hamid (Independent) 168 0.25%


Honours of Malaysia[edit]


  1. ^ a b "New ministers and deputy ministers", The Star, 19 March 2008.
  2. ^ MCA must engage the young Archived 10 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine, The Star, 7 April 2008.
  3. ^ Biography Archived 13 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine Liow Tiong Lai. Accessed 9 June 2010
  4. ^ The Star, 17 October 2008. Liow proposes one more Barisan deputy chairman (updated). URL: Archived 20 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ The Star, 'Deputy chairmanship in BN will reflect MCA's seniority'. URL: Archived 20 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ The Star, 21 October 2008. Muhyiddin: Barisan parties need to band together. URL: Archived 24 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ The Star, 28 October 2008. Liow: Consult MCA on second BN deputy chairman position. URL:[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ New EGM mired in legal wrangling while Ong pushes unity plan Archived 7 November 2009 at the Wayback Machine The Malaysian Insider, 4 November 2009
  9. ^ Liow tells Soi Lek to quit Archived 9 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine The Malaysian Insider, 7 January 2010
  10. ^ MCA boycott sign of frustration Archived 1 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine The Malaysian Insider, 3 February 2010
  11. ^ Don’t make me your scapegoat, Soi Lek tells Tiong Lai Archived 10 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine The Malaysian Insider, 7 January 2010
  12. ^ Soi Lek quits, fresh MCA polls imminent Archived 6 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine The Malaysian Insider, 4 March 2010
  13. ^ Soi Lek wins, Liow is MCA No. 2 Archived 31 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine The Malaysian Insider, 28 March 2010
  14. ^ Ken Vin Lek (7 May 2013). "The rejection of MCA". Free Malaysia Today.
  15. ^ "MCA to mull on invitation by PM to join Cabinet". New Straits Times. 3 May 2014. Archived from the original on 3 September 2014.
  16. ^ Daniel Ten Kate (16 May 2013). "Najib Cabinet Rewards Base as Chinese Sidelined: Southeast Asia". Bloomberg.
  17. ^ New cabinet – Waytha, Khairy, Paul Low in; MCA out
  18. ^ Leven Woon (13 December 2013). "How will Chua Soi Lek be remembered?". Free Malaysia Today. Archived from the original on 12 October 2014. Retrieved 30 August 2014.
  19. ^ Lester Kong (21 December 2013). "Malaysia's former health minister Liow Tiong Lai is new MCA president". The Straits Times.
  20. ^ Syed Jaymal Zahiid (25 June 2014). "MALAYSIA Now transport minister, Liow says finding MH370 is Job No 1". The Malay Mail Online.
  21. ^ [1], Astro Awani News, 25 June 2014.
  22. ^ "Liow to step down as MCA president". Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  23. ^ Robertson, May. "Liow to step down as MCA president after GE14 defeat | Malay Mail". Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  24. ^ "Liow to step down as MCA president after GE14 defeat". Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  25. ^ Lai, Allison; Yong, Yimie (4 November 2018). "Wee Ka Siong is the new MCA president (Updated) - Nation | The Star Online". Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  26. ^ "Wee Ka Siong is new MCA president | New Straits Times". 5 November 2018. Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  27. ^ "Wee Ka Siong elected new MCA president". Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  28. ^ "Love & Hate PR People? So Does This Government Minister!". Viddsee in Lite. 9 April 2014. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
  29. ^ 15Malaysia – Healthy Paranoia
  30. ^ "'Citizen Liow' plays dual role in National Day video". The Star (Malaysia). 28 August 2017. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
  31. ^ "Liow Tiong Lai, the main character in 'Citizens' (VIDEO)". The Malay Mail. 28 August 2017. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
  32. ^ 国民 . CITIZENS
  33. ^ "Keputusan Pilihan Raya Umum Parlimen/Dewan Undangan Negeri" (in Malay). Election Commission of Malaysia. Retrieved 4 February 2017. Percentage figures based on total turnout.
  34. ^ "Malaysia General Election". undiinfo Malaysian Election Data. Malaysiakini. Retrieved 4 February 2017. Results only available from the 2004 election.
  35. ^ "KEPUTUSAN PILIHAN RAYA UMUM 13". Sistem Pengurusan Maklumat Pilihan Raya Umum (in Malay). Election Commission of Malaysia. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  36. ^ "Former Chief Justice and ex-FELDA chairman head King's birthday honours list". The Edge Markets. 13 November 2021. Archived from the original on 13 November 2021. Retrieved 13 November 2021.
  37. ^ "Malacca honours 1,230". Martin Carvalho. The Star. 10 October 2009. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  38. ^ "Pahang Ruler confers Datukship on 109". The Star. 24 October 2004. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  39. ^ "David Arumugam, Khadijah Ibrahim now Datuks". Bernama. The Star. 12 February 2009. Retrieved 12 October 2018.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) President
21 December 2013 – 4 November 2018
Succeeded by