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Wednesday October 2, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday October 2, 2013 MYT 8:29:30 AM
by majorie chiew
ONG Seok Kim was an extraordinary man with a big heart. A pioneer in the early development of Sitiawan and the Dinding district (now Manjung), Ong dedicated almost 50 years of his life to the betterment of the local community.
Known as an educationist, social worker and philanthropist, Ong lived to the ripe old age of 80 before he passed on in 1964. At his funeral, many Chinese community leaders in then Malaya and South-East Asia came to pay their last respects. A big crowd of mourners, including students, lined the roads, during the funeral procession.
Ong founded four Chinese schools in the Dinding district and was a patron in many other schools. He was also a prime mover in social and charity organisations.
Born in Gehou in Fujian province, China, in 1884, Ong was also known as Wang Shujin, Wang Rongzan and Wang Lisheng. He was a 29th generation descendant of Wang Shengzhi, the first king of Fujian.
At 15, Ong eked out a living as a shop assistant and kitchen hand. Life was hard for his family. In 1903, when he was 19, Ong left China for Malaya in search of a better life.
He landed in Teluk Anson (now Teluk Intan), Perak, and worked as a shop assistant. Later, he started a business settling clothes, shoes and knick-knacks.
Three years later, he moved to Sitiawan. The hardworking Ong made his fortune and later invested in retail shops and rubber plantations in Segari, Kampung Koh, Ayer Tawar and Changkat Jering in the Manjung district. Before 30, Ong was a wealthy man.
At the age of 29, Ong was co-founder of the Aik Tee Recreation Association in Sitiawan. It was a gathering place for the local community, especially the youths. The association’s building was destroyed during the Japanese Occupation but Ong rebuilt it after the war. He was the association’s chairman for 40 years.
In 1920, Ong and a few community leaders founded Chung Cheng Primary School in Sitiawan. He convinced a rich landowner to donate a piece of land for the school.
The Sitiawan Rubber Traders Association which Ong helped set up, levied 50 sen on every ton of rubber sold in Sitiawan, to raise funds for building classrooms and facilities in over 10 Chinese primary schools in Sitiawan and Ayer Tawar in Perak.
Ong bought and donated 2.4ha of land for the construction of the Sitiawan Chinese Maternity Hospital in 1936.
In 1911, Ong, a nationalist loyal to his motherland, joined the Dr Sun Yat-sen led Kuomintang party’s Penang branch. In 1923, he was appointed chairman of the Sitiawan branch by Dr Sun, the first president and founding father of the Republic of China. Ong held the position until the mid-1950s.
He raised funds to help China during the 1920 drought and donated money to build schools and roads in Yongchun county. When China’s destiny was at stake in the 1937 Sino-Japanese War, Ong raised funds to defend China against the Japanese.
In recognition of his contributions to the local community, Ong was bestowed a Justice of Peace (JP) award in the early 1960s by the Sultan of Perak, and the Kesatria Mangku Negara (KMN) by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in 1964. Ong passed away a few months later.
Local community leaders led by Ng Kuok Thai, Saw Cheng Chor and Ong Boon Tee, among others, set up the Ong Seok Kim Memorial Education Fund in 1966 in his honour to provide bursaries, incentive awards and scholarships for poor, deserving students.
During the last decade, Ong It Shaw, the 28th and second youngest son, helped to raise RM1mil for the fund. Ong Siew Bee, a granddaughter, also made substantial contributions to the fund.
It Shaw, in the same spirit of his father, also raised funds for the construction of the non-profit Manjung Haemodialysis Centre to serve the poor.
Ong Seok Kim: A name that will never die
Tags / Keywords:
Family & Community, Ong Seok Lim, His life and times
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