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Friday June 1, 2007

Kerk gets a twin surprise


MALACCA: It was a day of double joy for cancer survivor and former Kota Melaka MP Kerk Kim Hock yesterday. First, he got a lengthy goodwill message from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi via fax.  

Then came the other surprise – a personal visit by Yang diPertua Negeri Tun Datuk Seri Utama Mohd Khalil Yaakob. 

Kerk, who quit as DAP secretary-general in 2004 and subsequently retired from politics, said he was “very touched” when he received Abdullah’s fax at about 10am yesterday. 

In his message, the Prime Minister said he was happy for Kerk and his family.  

VIP visitor: Mohd Khalil chatting with Kerk and his family at their home in Kampung Lapan yesterday.
“To overcome this serious illness must have taken so much courage and required an unwavering faith. Although I cannot know all that you have had to struggle through, I can understand what your family must have endured.” 

“As with all who have battled cancer bravely and with dignity, there is much in your resolve to fight and indeed to overcome, that I truly admire. 

“My late wife, Endon, even in the midst of her fight against cancer, did all she could to strongly encourage, by her own example, all Malaysians battling such severe emotional and physical hardship to never give up hope. 

“I am sure that your story of triumph over adversity will touch and inspire many, especially those who feel that the odds are stacked against them, to draw strength and to persevere,” Abdullah’s message read.  

Kerk, who was deeply gratified by the message, said if there were a person who could relate to his struggle, along with that of other cancer patients, it would be Abdullah because his wife had also battled cancer. 

“It is not about winning or losing the fight, but we must fight all the way. Endon might have lost in her battle against the cancer cells, but her fight had inspired so many people in the country and world,” said Kerk. 

He also thanked the Prime Minister for reappointing him as a member of the National Unity Advisory Panel for another two-year term.  

About an hour after receiving the fax, Kerk was moved when the Governor came a-calling at his house in Kampung Lapan here. 

Mohd Khalil stayed for over an hour, chatting with Kerk and his family members about how life had been for the family in the past five years. They also talked about cancer treatments and exercise routines. 

“He extended an invitation to my family and I to visit him at his residence. I regard it as a big honour, because I am after all, just a retired politician,” he quipped. 

Ever since The Star published his story about being cancer-free on May 25, he had received more than 150 SMS and phone calls from across the country, 30 of which were from cancer patients seeking advice.  

The former MP was diagnosed with Stage 2 rectal cancer in 2002. He underwent surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. With the end of the five-year remission period, Kerk can be finally considered cancer-free.  

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