SIBU: Former chairman of Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) Kong Sien Han believes the Johan Bintang Sarawak (JBS) bestowed on him recently was in recognition of his service and contribution to the society in the last two decades.
He received the award from the Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Datuk Patinggi Abang Muhammad Salahuddin during a special investiture ceremony in Kuching on Feb 3.
Born in 1939 to a family of 12 siblings, Kong belongs to the first generation whose parents came from China to seek a better livelihood along the Rajang Basin in Sibu.
With such humble beginnings where his parents laboured as rubber tappers, Kong nevertheless, and despite the odds, gained himself a hard-earned education and slowly moved up the rungs of success with his various achievements and contributions especially to the community and development of Sibu.
Though a non-Foochow in a predominantly Foochow town, he was at the helm of SMC from 1991 to 1999, being re-appointed for three terms.
This, in itself, was sufficient recognition by the Sibu community of their trust and confidence in Kong as their council chairman to lead them in the development of Sibu town.
Well-respected Kong is known for his firm approach especially when it comes to implementing policies that he knew were “unpopular” but which he knew would be beneficial to the community in the long term.
He is also known for his honesty, sincerity and commitment to improve and upgrade the living standards and conditions of the community as well as the image of Sibu town through the provision of better facilities and hygiene.
His community work through the various associations speak volume of the man who is genuinely dedicated and committed to ensuring that the various Chinese clans and associations have a coherent voice in the society and to create the awareness at the international forefront of the existence of Sibu.
Kong entered the political arena in 1959 when he joined the Sibu United People’s Party (SUPP).
By 1978, he was actively involved in party matters together with Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr Wong Soon Kai, the then chairman of SUPP.
In 1979, he was elected to the assistant secretary’s post of the party’s Sibu branch, and subsequently to the post of Sibu branch vice-chairman, a post he held until 2003.
He was also a central committee member of SUPP from 1979 to 2002.
Between 1988 and 1990, Kong was the appointed deputy chairman of SMC.
He was appointed its chairman in 1991, a post he held for nine years until 1999.
He sat on the statutory board of Sarawak Electricity Supply Corporation from 1980 to 1992.
Kong was appointed by the state government as the Special Advisor to the Sarawak Ministry of Environment and Public Health from 1999 to 2002.
In community and social field, Kong was chairman of Sarawak Vui Neng Association from 1979 to 2002.
From 1994 to 1997, he was the national chairman of Gabungan Persatuan Hui Ning Malaysia.
He also relished the role as state chairman of Gabungan Persatuan Kwong Wai Siew Sarawak (1992-1993).
He was secretary-general of Sarawak Chinese Culture Association (1992-1994) and vice chairman of Sibu United Chinese Association (1983-1993).
He was elected deputy chairman of Malaysia Liu Kwee Tang Clansmen Association (2003-2004).
Today, he remains as honorary chairman of Malaysia Liu Kwee Tang Clansmen Association and Sibu Citizen Chinese Middle School, and honorary president of Sarawak Vui Neng Association and Sibu Liu Kwee Tang Association.
Kong is also the advisor to four other notable organisations, namely Sibu Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sibu Hakka Association, Sibu Kwang Tung Benevolent Society and Kwong Hee Ann Benevolent Society.
Kong was married to Ngui Choon Lan and blessed with two sons and three daughters.
He was awarded the Ahli Bintang Sarawak (ABS) in 1983, and now the Johan Bintang Sarawak (JBS).