KOTA KINABALU: Tributes have been pouring in following the death of Sabah DAP chairman and state Health and People's Wellbeing Minister Datuk Stephen Wong Tien Fatt (pic).
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal described Wong as his comrade and a true Sabahan who fought hard for Sabah and her people.
"Today, we lost a friend and a people-centric minister. He helped the people tremendously, and was very committed in carrying out his responsibilities. He was hardworking and his family has my deepest sympathy.
"There's nothing much I can say, because we are losing a friend and fighter," he said to reporters at Hospital Queen Elizabeth here on Thursday (March 28).
Wong's political secretary and Luyang assemblyman Ginger Phoong Jin Zhe said he hoped that Sabahans would remember the late Sandakan MP as a fighter who sought to restore the status of Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners in the federation of Malaysia.
Wong had proposed a private Bill to change Sabah and Sarawak from one of 13 states in the first article of the Federal Constitution, to one of three parties of the Federation.
"I'm actually preparing a speech for the constitutional amendment to be tabled in Parliament," said Phoong.
"It's so unfortunate. He cares very much about Sabah and Sandakan. He is fearless even in the face of the (national) DAP leadership, to fight for Sabah rights.
"He was a fighter, my mentor, my family and a fatherly figure. He taught me a lot of things, and I really appreciate everything he had taught me," said Phoong.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew, Sabah DAP vice-chairman Datuk Frankie Poon Ming Fung and members of the state Cabinet were also seen at the hospital to pay their respects.
Wong collapsed in his car after he went on a hike at the Tambaig Adventure Park in Kg Duvanson, Putatan, near here on Thursday.
He was rushed to a hospital's emergency unit, however, doctors failed to revive him. He was pronounced dead at 12.15pm.