THE collection of old photos amassed by Penang’s first Chief Minister, was invaluable in the publication of his biography, ‘Unsung Patriot: Wong Pow Nee’.
His son Peter Wong Tet Phin, who co-authored the book with Penang Institute researcher Koay Su Lin, said it was as if his father knew they would come in useful someday.
It took Tet Phin and Koay about seven years to compile these with other pieces of information, and an additional year to complete the 336-page soft cover book.
It was launched at the Chinese Recreation Club (CRC) in George Town on Thursday in a ceremony attended by friends, family members, former politicians and associates.
“It has been a long journey, but hopefully this will highlight how his administration set Penang on the road to modernity, something that is often overlooked,” Tet Phin noted.
The late Pow Nee was born in 1911 and served in the state’s highest office from 1957 to 1969, and then as Malaysian ambassador to Italy from 1970 to 1975. He passed away in 2002.
“We hardly saw him during his time in office, and were only able to spend more time with him after he retired from public life,” said Tet Phin.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the years under Pow Nee were an important part of the state’s history, and its transformation from a traditional, free port economy to a modern, industrial-based one.
“He planted the seeds for future success,” Guan Eng said, adding that the book was a fitting tribute to Pow Nee’s contributions.
DAP leader Lim Kit Siang said the launching of the book was timely in light of the many issues affecting the nation in recent years.
“It takes us back to our roots, and reminds us of what our forefathers stood for, and what they tried to achieve.
“It reminds us to uphold the values of moderation that this country was built on, which is crucial in sustaining it,” Kit Siang added.
Co-publisher Lee Eng San said the book, of which only 1,000 copies had been printed, would eventually be available at major bookstores. For now, it can only be obtained at the CRC, and is priced at RM59.90 per copy.
Also present at the ceremony were Pow Nee’s widow Elizabeth Law Siew Kim and their other children.