KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Dr Chua Jui Meng, the country’s longest-serving health minister, has breathed his last at the age of 80.
He had been hospitalised since last week following a heart attack.
In expressing his condolences, MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said he had known Chua for 30 years.Describing Chua as a very considerate and competent minister, he recalled a 2002 incident of how the former health minister helped his then 16-month-old daughter.
“I personally experienced his meticulous care for the people. In April 2002, my eldest daughter suffered from a duodenal ulcer; she vomited blood on the spot and was rushed to the Johor Baru General Hospital.
“At that time, I was not an MP yet but just a civilian. Upon knowing this, Chua called to comfort me and my wife. We were on the verge of breaking down. He also contacted a specialist team and kept us updated on the progress. We will never forget this lifesaver (of my daughter)!” he wrote on Facebook.
Dr Wee went on to say that after he joined MCA, Chua was one of his political mentors, who often gave him advice and support. He said they interacted a lot especially during the period from 2001 to 2003, when MCA carried out an acquisition of Nanyang Press that had caused serious disagreements among the party leadership, in which he and Chua were among those who stood firmly against the acquisition.
“Chua had always been bold and outspoken, and eager to learn. His speeches in Mandarin and English were eloquent and clear and easy to understand,” he praised.Dr Wee said although Chua left MCA to join PKR, they remained good friends. He said Chua had lived a colourful life and dedicated his life to the people.
MCA deputy president Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon expressed his condolences to Chua’s family. He said Chua had been a close comrade who had contributed much to the party and the country.Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Karim said Chua’s passing was a great loss to PKR, especially Johor PKR.
“Chua has a special place in the hearts of Johor PKR for his many contributions. It was during his time that the party won a parliamentary and state seat for the first time, in the 13th General Election,” he said.
Hassan described Chua as a hardworking person who was known for his fatherly nature.
Money Matters host Zahir Kelvin Ong Abdullah said Chua was the most accommodating minister he covered.
“I remember him as a very obliging minister who always accommodated and gave full cooperation to the press. He would always make time to answer our questions. Even if we asked him many questions, he would still answer them all,” he said.
Chua was also a former MCA vice-president and five-term Bakri MP. A lawyer by profession, he joined MCA in the 1970s. He rose up the ranks to become the party vice-president in 1990.
In the 1986 general election, he won the Bakri parliamentary seat and went on to hold it for another four terms until 2008.Throughout Chua’s political career, he held a number of posts, including his appointment as the Health Ministry’s parliamentary secretary from 1989 to 1990 and deputy international trade and industry minister (1990-1995) before being appointed health minister from 1995 to 2004.
Chua left MCA to join PKR in 2009 and was appointed Johor PKR chief (2009 to 2014).
In the 2013 general election, he contested the Segamat parliamentary seat but lost to incumbent S. Subramaniam, who was MIC president, by 1,217 votes.