Ex-Sarawak DAP MP Sim Kwang Yang dies

Deeply sadden by the news. Sim Kwang Yang was a true Sarawakian patriot who gave and didn’t ask for anything in return. He was a true friend to many, me likewise. I have many memories of Kwang Yang. The best was when he became a columnist and editorial writer for Sarawak Tribune from 1988-1992 when I was editor. IMAGINE this – an Opposition MP writing the editorial for a mainstream newspaper owned by Taib n Co. This will never ever happen again. Thank you SKY for everything. Rest well now. – fs, Nov 27, 2014  Kuala Lumpur

Former three-term DAP MP for Bandar Kuching Sim Kwang Yang passed away early this morning in his sleep.

Sim, 66, was also a former columnist for Malaysiakini.

His remains will be cremated tomorrow afternoon at the Nirvana Memorial Park in Semenyih, Selangor.

Sim was first elected MP for Bandar Kuching in 1982, a constituency which he served for 13 years until 1995.

Sim was a Malaysiakini columnist for eight years from 2003 to 2011. He kicked off his popular column with Are we worthy of freedom of expression?

As a resulting of ailing health, he wrote his last column for Malaysiakini three years ago.

In an immediate response, DAP leader Lim Kit Siang said Sim was the first batch of young Sarawakians who joined the party when Sarawak DAP was formed in 1978.

“Sim left footprints in Swak/Msian politics. His heart always with underdog regardless of origin. (He was a) pioneer in DAP reach-out to longhouses. RIP,” said Lim in a tweet posting.

Meanwhile, Bandar Kuching MP Chong Chieng Jen offered his condolences to Sim’s family.

“Sim was among the pillars of DAP in the darkest history of DAP in the 80s. Without a doubt, he has contributed a lot to the development of the party. He was the pillar of support to all party members in Sarawak.”

Sim began his political career by accident, when he was back in Sarawak for his summer holidays after completing a degree majoring in philosophy in Winnipeg University, Canada. He planned to return to Canada for his post-graduate studies.

A pioneer in Sarawak DAP

While in Sarawak, he signed up as member of DAP when the party launched its Kuching branch. He was soon elected secretary of the branch.

When the Padungan assemblyperson unexpectedly died in 1979, Sim was roped in by the party to contest the state seat, which is located in Kuching town. He came in second to an independent in his first electoral battle.

“During that time, I was already a landed immigrant in Canada, with a scholarship to study in philosophy. I decided to give up my future in Canada, and started to build my career in politics in my beloved homeland,” he was to write later.

Sim subsequently devoted his time to building Sarawak DAP and contest for the Bandar Kuching parliamentary seat at the 1982 general election, which was called by newly-minted prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Sim won the seat, beating his opponent from the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), and retain it in two subsequent elections. In 1995, suffering from diabetes, he decided to quit politics.

“From experience, I have learned that the worst enemy of the politician is his own ego. All politicians must remember to guard against hubris, and the danger of his or her own pride. I have seen many politicians destroyed by the greed of their own heart,” he said.

“The best politicians are the humble leaders of the people. All politicians must treasure the sense of humility, no matter how high they climb.”

Despite his retirement from politics, Sim nevertheless kept himself busy – he wrote a lot, expressing his opinion on a wide range of topics and even offered to teach philosophy on a personal basis.

Sim was also the founder of blog site ‘Hornbill Unleashed’ which put a spotlight on burning issues in his beloved Sarawak such as Native Customary Rights (NCR) land. – Malaysiakini

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