SIBU: Former Kanowit PKR division vice chairman, Thomas Laja, 64, passed away after fainting while jogging in Kanowit at about 5.30pm on Tuesday (August 18).
Thomas together with chairman, George Chen and other committee members of Kanowit PKR were expelled by the party in the middle of May.
They were in the camp of former deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali.
Kanowit Bomba chief Arrahman Chik said his department received a distress call at around 5.44pm concerning a man who collapsed while jogging in Bukit Memaloh.
"Six firemen rushed to the scene together with paramedics from Kanowit Hospital. However, he was pronounced dead at the scene," he said.
Thomas, who hailed from Nanga Jagau in Ngemah in Kanowit, was once a headmaster. He left behind his wife and five children.
Chen, when contacted, said Thomas had been quite ill since 2016. However, he was not diagnosed with any particular illness.
"He never knew he had any heart problem and had been jogging regularly at Bukit Memaloh," he said.
Chen said after they were both expelled by the party, Thomas joined Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB).
"However, he quit soon after when PSB would not grant his wish of contesting in the Machan seat in the next state election," said Chen.
Following that, he joined Parti Bumi Kenyalang (PBK), which put him down as the party's potential candidate for the Machan seat.
"I consider him a very committed and hardworking man who sacrificed his money and effort for the people of Kanowit. His demise is a great loss for the town," he said.
Thomas had previously contested in two state elections under the PKR ticket but lost both times.