IF Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok wishes to advise the poor rubber-tappers on how to harvest latex in the coming dry spell when the “wintering of leaves” takes place, she might have to think twice before speaking.
For lurking around is opposition MP Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong, who started life at six as a rubber tapper in Jasin to help supplement the income of his family.
Kok, who has been with the job only for eight months under the new government, made a blunder recently when she tried to instruct rubber tappers on how to collect latex during rainy days.
“Many of our new Ministers do not seem to live in the real world. I just laughed at Teresa Kok’s idea to have rain guards for rubber trees,” says Dr Wee, who is also MCA president.
“The Minister also asked people to consume more palm oil. Use palm oil to shower or what? Her real job is to promote it to other countries and increase the export of palm oil.”
Apart from commodity issues, Dr Wee is also an expert on small and medium industries, new villages, education, transportation and construction by virtue of his education background and the ministerial positions he had held before May 2018.
The 50-year-old veteran politician also has knowledge in managing the economy. He was appointed by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister for the first time then, into the National Economic Council II (1999-2000) to help overcome the adverse impact of the Asian financial crisis.
The MP for Ayer Hitam for four consecutive terms joined MCA after he graduated from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) in 1992, with a civil engineering degree.
“I started as a social activist in Johor Bahru, just like what Michael Chong is doing now. I had a service centre and I served the poor people. I financed it with my NTU scholarship money,” recalls Dr Wee.
When Ka Siong was doing his Master’s degree in traffic engineering in Singapore’s NTU (Nanyang Technological University), he was paid S$2,400 (RM5,000) per month to do research. He spent RM2,000 a month on the center.
To help poor juniors in UTM, the activist knocked on the doors of the late Tan Sri Kuek Ho Yao, a prominent philanthropist related to tycoon Robert Kuok. That visit from an unknown resulted in Kuek giving scholarships and financial aid to more than 100 students.
Before getting his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in transportation planning from UTM in 2002, the budding politician was already involved with non-governmental organisations to help solve hawkers’ problems and fight for their cause, as well as working with police to rescue underage girls forced into prostitution.
All these activities paved the way for the PhD holder to rise fast in the MCA. He became the MP for Ayer Hitam in 2004, and since then has served the constituency for four terms.
Before being elected MCA president in late 2018, he had held the positions of deputy president (2013-2018) and national youth chairman (2008-2013).
The most important posts he had held in government were Minister in the PM’s Department (2014-2018) and Education Deputy Minister (2008-2013).
He became an opposition MP in May last year after the Barisan Nasional, in which MCA is a component party, lost the general election.
Without much groaning and moaning, he has already gained recognition as a performing opposition MP.
Dr Wee’s success in politics is attributed to his political acumen, leadership qualities and personality, as well as his kind treatment of staff and friends around him.
“As a person, he is sincere, knowledgeable and talented. He values brotherhood. As a leader, he is dedicated, hands on, politically savvy and superb in public speaking,” says Datuk Lawrence Low, a central committee member of MCA and his former political secretary.
Wee wins respect as Opposition MP