Ong Kee Hui

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Yang Berbahagia Tan Sri Datuk Amar
Ong Kee Hui
Founder of Sarawak United People's Party
In office
1959–1982
Preceded by Post created
Succeeded by Stephen Yong Kuet Tze
Malaysian Minister of Local Government and Housing
In office
9 February 1971 – 4 March 1976
Preceded by Khaw Kai Boh
Succeeded by Michael Chen Wing Sum
Malaysian Minister of Science, Technology and Environment
In office
5 March 1976 – 16 July 1981
Preceded by Portfolio created
Succeeded by Stephen Yong Kuet Tze
Personal details
Born 1941
Kuching, Kingdom of Sarawak
Died 2000
Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
Nationality Malaysian
Political party Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP)
Spouse(s) Wee Bee Siok (黃美惜)
Occupation Politician

Tan Sri Datuk Amar Ong Kee Hui (Chinese: 王其輝; pinyin: Wáng Qíhuī; 1914–2000) was a Malaysian Chinese politician and founder / President of the Sarawak United People's Party (founded 12 June 1959). His family trace their origins to Longhai, Fujian Province, China.

Family History[edit]

Ong Kee Hui was the great-grandson of Ong Ewe Hai (1830-1889), a leading Sarawakian merchant and Rajah Charles Brooke's advisor on Chinese Affairs, and also confidant; grandson of Ong Tiang Swee (1864-1950), the first Chinese nominated to the Sarawak Council Negri (Legislative Council) in 1937; and son of Ong Kwan Hin (1896-1982), a recognised authority on Chinese temples, who was nominated to the Sarawak Council Negri (Legislative Council) as well.

Generations of the Ong family played a prominent role for the Hokkien community in Sarawak. His great-grandfather Ong Ewe Hai was a prominent Kapitan China to the Hokkien community of Sarawak, and a successful businessman in multiple fields. His grandfather, Ong Tiang Swee was Kapitan China, and also President of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce. His father, Ong Kwan Hin was also Kapitan China. Both Ong Tiang Swee and Ong Kwan Hin were the first two Chinese people nominated to the Sarawak Council Negri (Legislative Council) in 1937.

Today, there are six roads in Kuching, Sarawak named after generations of the Ong family, some by the Rajah in recognition of their contribution to the community. These include Jalan Ewe Hai (also Ewe Hai street), Jalan Ong Tiang Swee, Jalan Ong Kwan Hin, Jalan Ong Kee Hui, Jalan Hui Sing and Jalan Ong Hup Leong, a branch road of Jalan Ong Tiang Swee.

Ong Kee Hui is also related to Ong Poh Lim. His great grandfather Ong Koon Tian ( d:1837) was born in Bai Jiao, Fujian, China and left for south-east Asia to make his fortune, at which he was not successful - on his death he left three sons and three daughters impoverished.

Honours[edit]

He was bestowed the titles "Datuk" later upgraded to "Dato' Sri" (PNBS) and "Datuk Amar" (DA) by the Sarawak State Government, "Datuk" (PGBK) by the Sabah State Government and "Tan Sri" (PMN) by the Government of Malaysia.

The Malaysian Institute of Chemistry also awards the Tan Sri Datuk Ong Kee Hui Postgraduate Chemistry Award to candidates who produce an outstanding thesis.

In Kuching, there is a road named after him, called Jalan Ong Kee Hui. The headquarters of the Sarawak United People's Party sits here.

A road called Jalan Hui Sing, or better known as Hui Sing Garden in Kuching is also named after Ong Kee Hui and Ong Moh Sing in a joint venture development for a residential area.

Early life[edit]

Born in 1914 in Kuching, he was educated at St. Thomas's School in Kuching and later St. Andrew's School in Singapore before receiving his diploma in Agricultural Science from Serdang College (present-day Universiti Putra Malaysia).

Career[edit]

In 1935, he entered the Sarawak Government civil service when he returned home to serve the Department of Agriculture. He believed in Sarawak's cession to Great Britain in 1946, which ended Brooke Sarawak and brought citizenship to Sarawak based on jus soli to the Chinese, who were regarded as immigrants.

Leaving government service in 1948, Ong entered business under the tutelage of Datuk Amar Wee Kheng Chiang, his father-in-law, who appointed him manager of the family’s Bian Chiang Bank, today known as CIMB Group, devoting himself to business and banking.

Rise to politics[edit]

In the mid-1950s, Ong Kee Hui started his political career as a nominated member of the Council Negri (State Legislative Council), and he was elected to the Kuching Municipal Council as the Mayor of Kuching and an unofficial member of the Supreme Council (State Cabinet) as Minister of Technology, Research and Local Government.

The “divide and rule” method of the British encouraged the communal polarisation of Sarawak politics, something that he and his contemporaries viewed with alarm as boding ill for future Sarawak democracy. To counter this trend, Ong, together with Datuk Amar Stephen Yong Kuet Tze and colleagues, established the Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP) as Sarawak's first political party in 1959.[1]

When Malaysia was proposed, Ong argued for Sarawak's independence before joining the greater federation. The Sarawak United People's Party supported his stance for independence. In 1965, he seized the expulsion of Singapore to call for a referendum but was rejected.

After much encouragement and pragmatism from then Deputy Prime Minister, Tun Abdul Razak, he was convinced to forge political partnerships and consequently, Sarawak United People's Party joined the State Government in 1971. He served as the Minister of Local Government and Housing and Minister of Science Technology & Environment under Tun Abdul Razak's Cabinet. However, being a federal minister in Kuala Lumpur divorced him from Sarawakian grassroots politics. As a result, in 1980, he stood down as party chairman of SUPP and retired to pen his memoirs, Footprints in Sarawak.

Spouse and Children[edit]

On 14 September 1937, he married Wee Bee Siok (Chinese: 黃美惜; pinyin: Huáng Měixī), the daughter of a successful banker and businessman, Datuk Amar Wee Kheng Chiang, in a traditional Chinese ceremony. They have eight children - two sons and six daughters.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Steinmayer, Otto (2000). "Review of Ong Kee Hui's memoirs". The Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. lxxiii part 1: 126–129. 
  • Albert Lau. Southeast Asia and the Cold War. Routledge, 26 July 2012 pg. 129
  • Tan Sri Ong Kee Hui. Footprints in Sarawak: Memoirs of Tan Sri Datuk (Dr) Ong Kee Hui. Research & Resource Centre, 1998
  • Tan Sri Ong Kee Hui. Footsteps in Malaysia: Political Development of Sarawak since 1963. Research & Resource Centre, 2002

Further reading[edit]

  • Ong Kee Hui Footprints in Sarawak: 1914 to 1963. Research & Resource Centre, SUPP Headquarters, 1 January 1998