As a loyal party worker, he worked tirelessly in the hard ground of Sarawak politics, contesting at the parliamentary level in several GEs without winning. He took the plunge into politics by contesting as DAP’s candidate for Miri in the 1986 general elections (GE). He took on SUPP’s Robert Lau in the Sibu parliamentary seat in the 1995, 2004 and 2008 GEs while switching to Lanang in the 1999 GE.
His major breakthrough came when he became one of three candidates to win a state seat in the 1996 Sarawak state election (SE), DAP’s first electoral victories at the state level since its formation in Sarawak in 1978. He was to repeat his victory in the Bukit Assek state seat in 2006 and 2011. In the 2011 Sarawak SE, he led DAP to its best performance by winning 12 out of 15 state seats.
But he is most remembered for the giant-killing feat and tide-turning victory in the 2010 Sibu by-election that finally brought the political tsunami of 2008 to Sarawak, setting the astounding performance in the 2011 SE and 2013 GE in Sarawak.
Wong was a loving father of five children with his wife Irene Chang. He had graduated with a double degree in economics and law from Australia in 1984 and served as a lawyer for Sibu and Sarawak for almost three decades. He assumed the Sarawak DAP state chairmanship in 2000 before retiring from the post in 2013.
He helped groomed many young leaders that brought revival to Sarawak DAP which helped it to its great electoral results in 2011 and 2013. Today Sarawak DAP is a force to be reckoned with in Sarawak politics, thanks in no small part to this man’s effort. Kit Siang summarised it best about Wong: “A Man of history”
Passing of a giant in Sarawak politics – By Lim Guan Eng
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 3 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 realize 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 likable politician even amongst his detractors in BN. I remember speaking to the new Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem at the sidelines of the recent Conference of Rulers’ meeting in Kuala Lumpur thanking him for the state’s RM 1 million contribution for Ho Leng’s medical fees. Adenan said he liked Ho Leng’s personally and was saddened at Ho Leng’s medical condition as he himself had been through that a few years ago, when he almost died of his heart ailmets.
As a political novice in electoral politics, Ho Leng was anointed as a political giant killer when he upset then SUPP President Dr Wong Soon Kai in the state seat of Bukit Assek during the 1996 Sarawak state general elections.
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.
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 its knees.
William Shakespeare had wrote that, “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 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 is truly a giant-killer and a political giant for Sarawak.