KOTA KINABALU: Datuk Abdul Malek Chua, a veteran of Sabahs colourful rough-and-tumble political scene, was laid to rest at the Ulu Ketiau Muslim cemetery near here yesterday.
He was a leader of the ethnic Sungei community from Kinabatangan whose fiery oratory skills became the trademark of a political career that began when he was 25.
He was also one of the young leaders who emerged in the Parti Berjaya era.
Abdul Malek, 54, a politician who spoke his mind both in speech and in writing, died of a stroke at the Sabah Medical Centre here shortly after he collapsed on Sunday evening.
Abdul Malek of Sungei and Chinese parentage often crossed swords with his political rivals, some of whom called him a political maverick.
His death marks the passing of a period of freedom fighters. He had done his very best for Sabah. Hopefully, his contributions will be viewed positively, said former Sabah Umno information chief Senator Datuk Karim Ghani, who had engaged in verbal sparring with Abdul Malek when they sat in opposite political camps.
Datuk Radin Malleh, secretary-general of Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) where Abdul Malek was once deputy president said he never minced his words.
He was very daring in saying what he wanted to say when most of us would think twice before making a statement, he added.
A lawyer by training, Abdul Malek served as a police officer before quitting in 1976 to contest the Kuamut seat under the newly-formed Parti Berjaya led by the late Tun Fuad Stephen.
He won the seat in the election in which Parti Berjaya toppled the Usno government led by Tun Mustapha Datu Harun.
Rising to become an assistant minister, Abdul Malek was one of the six Parti Berjaya assemblymen to withstand the PBS rout of the Parti Berjaya government in 1985 but lost the seat in the snap polls in 1986.
He remained with Parti Berjaya until 1990 and later joined Umno and was appointed the party's first state information chief after it made its entry into Sabah in 1991 but left Umno to join PBS after it lost the state government to the Sabah Barisan Nasional in 1994.
Abdul Malek, who wrote several controversial books, including one entitled YBs for Sale, kept a low profile in PBS but crossed back to Umno on winning the Kuamut seat in the 1999 state election.
Abdul Malek leaves behind his wife of 34 years, Marhumah Basrah, 53, and five children.
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