Aussie minister keen on her homecoming

Sabah roots: Penny and James during one of their many outings. — Photo courtesy of James Wong

KOTA KINABALU: Family members of Sabah-born Penny Wong are looking forward to a small gathering as she makes a quick overnight stop in the city here during her first official visit to Malaysia as the Australian Foreign Affairs Minister.

Younger brother James said they were scheduling a late supper for a small family get-together after she finishes her official events in the state on Wednesday.

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James said Penny also told him that she would like to visit their paternal grandmother Lai Fung Shim’s grave here as well as go out for a bowl of her favourite porridge in town the next day.

“Penny also wants to visit her old school, Kinabalu International School and hawkers at the Lido area,” James said, adding that it would, however, depend on her schedule and the protocol.

“We are really excited about her visit back home as a Foreign Affairs Minister.

“We are so proud of her and we know many Sabahans are too,” he said, adding that Penny’s simple Sabah roots and political achievements in Australia were an inspiration to many Sabahans.

Penny, 54, will be on an official visit to Malaysia from Tuesday. It will be her first after her Cabinet appointment following the Australian Labor Party’s victory in the May 21 federal election.

Penny, born in Kota Kinabalu in 1968 to a prominent Sabah architect (now retired) Datuk Francis Wong and Australian mother Jane Chapman, left for Australia when she was eight years old after their parents separated.

James, who is the son from Francis’ second marriage, had said in a previous interview that the family of seven siblings had always been close and grew up together.

He is the only sibling remaining in Sabah as his parents now reside in Australia.

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