Malaysian-born Penny now Aussie minister

  • Nation
  • Friday, 30 Nov 2007

KOTA KINABALU: The father of Malaysian-born Penny Wong Ying Yen who has been appointed as a Cabinet minister in Australia is thrilled with his daughter’s political success. 

“I am very happy. I hope her appointment will be a blessing for Australia,” said Francis Wong Yit Shing, 66, an architect here. 

The 39-year-old Penny, who was born in Sabah but grew up in Australia from the age of eight with her mother, was yesterday named Climate Change and Water Minister by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd whose Labor party won the recent elections.  

Penny Wong Yin Yeng

Francis, who described his daughter as a go-getter, said that the portfolio given to his daughter was very “current and important” not only for Australians but for everyone concerned about global warming and climate change. 

“I know she is a very responsible person and she will work hard to achieve her objectives,” said Francis, who keeps in touch with his daughter through SMS.  

He said he never expected her to become a politician.  

“I wanted her to be a doctor and she enrolled for it. A year later she switched to law after going on a student exchange programme to Brazil where she saw the need to help people,” said Francis. 

Proud as punch: Francis and Penny keepin touch via SMS and mostly talk aboutfamily matters.

On completing her studies, she became involved in unions and industrial court cases in Australia.  

Penny became the first Asian-born woman Senator when she won a seat in South Australia in 2002.  

Last week’s Australian elections saw her winning a second term with her party toppling John Howard’s government. 

Asked if he had ever given his daughter any political advice, Francis said the politics that he knew about was only that of South-East Asia.  

“We mostly talk family matters.”  

Francis said Penny and her mother left Sabah for Australia in 1977 for Penny’s education while he remained in the state.  

Over time, he and his wife separated and Penny took up Australian citizenship.  

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