SANDAKAN: The sole independent MP in the 219-member Parliament, Chong Hon Min, is modest about his achievement in winning the Sandakan seat.
“I am lucky to have the people’s support and confidence to be their wakil rakyat. In fact, it is not a privilege but a responsibility that I have to work hard to serve the people,” he told The Star yesterday.
Chong sprang an upset when he unseated Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) deputy president Datuk Lau Ngan Siew who held the Sandakan constituency for two terms. Lau contested on the Barisan Nasional ticket.
Chong, a Business Studies diploma holder who graduated from TAR College in Kuala Lumpur in 1984, polled 9,538 votes with a majority of 1,330 in a three-cornered fight in the seat which fell to the DAP in the 1982 general election.
Two days before the March 13 nomination, the 45-year-old Hakka resigned as Sandakan Public Bank branch manager to contest as an independent candidate.
“I contested because I received strong feedback from my bank customers, NGOs and friends that they would support me because of my community service record,” said Chong who has been involved in community work with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as the Young Malaysian Movement, the Hakka Association, and the United Sandakan Chinese Community Association since 1986.
In 1985, he joined Gerakan and resigned from the party early this month.
On allegation by the LDP that it had evidence that Lau’s defeat was the “work” of a Barisan component party, Chong said:
“Probably it is because of my NGO involvement. I have friends in the SAPP, MCA, LDP, PBS and Umno.”
“Probably the impression is because I am Sabah Hakka Association treasurer and many of its members are SAPP members,” he said.
On whether he would join a Barisan component party, Chong said: “If the voters agree, I will seriously consider joining Barisan.”
The other independent candidate in the state assembly is Datuk John Ghani who won the Kuala Penyu seat.
Ghani resigned as Umno member to challenge Barisan candidate Datuk Wences Angang, who is United Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation secretary-general and a Sabah deputy Chief Minister.
He defeated Wences, who had held the seat for 18 years, by a majority of 2,018 in a four-way tussle.
“I will apply to rejoin Umno in two or three days,'' the former Sabah Umno deputy information chief said yesterday.
On Sabah Barisan chairman Datuk Musa Aman’s statement that independent candidates who won the elections would not be accept back into the coalition, Ghani said: “That is just talk.”