KUALA LUMPUR: Associate Professor Dr Hou Kok Chung is set to contest the Kluang parliamentary seat under the Barisan Nasional ticket.
Dr Hou Kok Chung
The 45-year-old head of Universiti Malaya’s Institute of China Studies tendered his resignation letter yesterday, ending his two-decade career in the country’s premier university and paving his way into active politics.
Born and bred in Kluang, Dr Hou, a Hainanese, is certainly no stranger in his birthplace where he is tipped to replace incumbent MP Hoo Seong Chang of the MCA.
Hoo, the three-term Kluang MP and Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs parliamentary secretary, is tipped to contest a state seat this time around.
Asked about his candidacy, Dr Hou’s reply reflects the painting in his office with the Chinese saying, Shun Qi Zi Ran, meaning “Let things take their natural course”.
Nevertheless, he said it was time for him to move on after spending 24 years in UM.
He entered UM as an undergraduate in 1984 and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Chinese Studies in 1987.
He continued tutoring at UM, where he also obtained his Masters in Art in 1990 and his doctorate from the University of London in 1998.
His illustrious career at UM saw him being promoted from lecturer to the head of the university’s East Asian Studies Department in 2002 and then director of the university’s Institute of China Studies in 2005.
Downplaying his candidacy in Johor, where Barisan Nasional is expecting a clean sweep this round, Dr Hou is however confident that he can put his knowledge, expertise and experience into practice in active politics.
“I have been interested in politics all the while. Education and Chinese culture are also my fields of interest,” said Dr Hou, who was a columnist with major local Chinese newspapers in the late 1990s.
His impressive curriculum vitae includes publishing 16 books besides writing chapters in another 16 books.
Dr Hou is certainly no stranger to the MCA leadership.
MCA leaders from UM include party president Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting, deputy president Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy, secretary-general Datuk Ong Ka Chuan and Wanita secretary-general Datuk Yu Chok Tow.
“These leaders were my seniors but we share a common interest in the affairs of the Chinese community,” he said.
Dr Hou has been the vice-chairman for MCA’s lifelong learning project since 2005.
A close friend of the MCA president for over a decade, Dr Hou said he shares and admires the leadership’s approach and outlook; singling out Ka Ting’s seriousness in implementing a healthy political culture in the party.
“The party is on the right track,” said Dr Hou.
A father of three, he said his wife, Lim Mooi Lang, fully supports his move to enter active politics.
Short of confirming his candidacy, Dr Hou said he is fully aware of and ready to face the challenges, responsibilities and sacrifices that needed to be taken to become a politician.