Kota Kinabalu: More than 1,000 people from all walks of life have paid their last respects to Sabah's pioneering property developer cum philanthropist, Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Wong Kwok at the Fook Lu Siew Funeral Parlour since he passed away on January 19 at Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) II.
They comprised ministers, political leaders, government officials, NGO activists, educationists, professionals, teachers and students, leaders and members of Chinese clan associations, builders, members of religious bodies and welfare organisations as well as the business community.
The late Dr Wong Kwok was the founder of the Kota Kinabalu Huang Clan (Jiang-xia) Association, President of Sabah Builders Association for a number of years, Honorary Life Chairman of Sabah Kwong Siew Association, Honorary Life Chairman of the Board of Governors for SM Tshung Tsin, Sabah, and Honorary Life President of The United Sabah Sze Yip Association and West Coast Sze Yi Association.
The late Dr Wong Kwok was aged 100 years taking into account the Chinese practice of adding three years (being the human age, heaven age and earth age). For this reason, the red colour dominated the decoration at the funeral parlour as the Chinese regard death at age 100 as a good happening albeit a sad occasion. In fact, a piece of red material also adorned the main doorway at his residence in Penampang.
He is survived by two wives, 13 children, 41 grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
At the funeral service, Tuesday, Professor Dr Bill E. Tsagris (President of National University of America) in a tribute said the words "businessman, developer, philanthropist" best describe Dr Wong Kwok.
"He was no less well-known than Mt Kinabalu, the epitome of a man whose success through hard work, perseverance, prudence and endurance is no secret."
Born in Tai Shan, Guangdong Province, he left his humble abode in China for Hong Kong in 1935 at the age of 16. His early exposure as an apprentice in a construction firm in Hong Kong marked the beginning of his lifelong career in the building industry.
When World War II broke out, he went back to China for a three-year military training stint. At the end of the war, he returned to Hong Kong to start anew. However, in 1950, he decided to migrate to North Borneo (now Sabah) in quest of greener pastures in the construction line.
The enterprising years (1954-1964) saw Dr Wong Kwok's business expansion to Negara Brunei, after which he came back to Sabah, culminating in the establishment of the Wong Kwok Group and bringing Kota Kinabalu's property development to new heights.
The tribute, read out by the Master of Ceremonies (MC), was published in a special book dedicated to the memory of this magnanimous man whom Dr Bill rated as one of the most generous philanthropists, one with a heart of gold. His beneficiaries included schools, education trusts, temples, charitable bodies, voluntary organisations and the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) Disaster Relief Fund.
Dr Wong Kwok was bestowed the State award of Panglima Gemilang Darjah Kinabalu (PGDK) which carries the title of "Datuk" in 1990 in recognition of his meritorious services to the Sabah community.
In 2002, he was conferred the "Honorary Doctor of Philosophy in Project Management" by the National University of America, given his outstanding achievements and contributions to the building construction industry and property development sector. Four years later, he received the "Outstanding Contribution Award" from the Federation of Chinese Associations Sabah (FCAS).
Among those who attended the funeral service were Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan and wife Datin Genevieve, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Dr Yee Moh Chai and wife Datin Vicky, Assistant Finance Minister, Datuk Donald Peter Mojuntin, Senator Datuk Paul Kong, Sabah Gerakan Chief, Datuk Gordon Leong, former Deputy Chief Minister, Tan Sri Herman Luping, former Deputy Speaker, Datuk James Vitales, former Berjaya Tg Aru Assemblyman, Datuk Paul Wong and former PBS Petagas Assemblyman, Datuk James Ligunjang. Pairin represented Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman.
Also present were Sabah Publishing House Sdn Bhd Managing Director, Datuk Clement Yeh and wife Datin Tina, ex-Senator Datuk Agnes Shim, FCAS Welfare Committee Chairperson, Datuk Nancy Ho, President of KK Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Michael Lui Yen Sang, Shareda Executive Committee, a delegation from the Federation of Sabah Manufacturers (FSM) and KDCA Central Committee, and school representatives from SM Tshung Tsin, Kian Kok Middle School and Kota Kinabalu High School.
Speaking on behalf of the family, Datuk Susan Wong Siew Guen, a daughter of Dr Wong Kwok, thanked Musa, State Assembly Speaker, Datuk Seri Salleh Tun Said, Pairin, Dr Yee, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Datuk V.K. Liew (who was represented by his Private Secretary, Albert Kok), Minister of Local Government & Housing, Datuk Hajiji Noor, Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister, Datuk Edward Khoo, Assistant Finance Minister, Datuk Donald Peter Mojuntin, Assistant Minister of Local Government & Housing, Datuk Ghulam Khan Bahadar and City Mayor Datuk Abidin Madingkir, among others, for their wreaths. Susan also expressed the family's gratitude to all the doctors and nurses of Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) II.
"Thank you very much for taking care of my late father for the last 17 days. Our special thanks to Dr David Wong for his concern and loving care."
Dr Wong Kwok was later laid to rest at the Nirvana Memorial Park, Mile 17, off Jalan Tuaran Lama, Tuaran.--Courtesy of The Daily Express