Wong (third left) receives a token of appreciation from Ting (fifth right) as others look on. – Photo by Peter Boon
SIBU (Sept 24): Sibu-born Lee Wong who has made good in the United States attributes his success to Foochow roots during a trip home.
The fifth term Mayor of West Chester in Ohio, aged 70, was born Wong Leong Hua. Jalan Wong King Huo here is named after his late grandfather. In 1970 at just aged 18, he left Sibu with only a few dollars and a cheap suitcase to seek better education in pharmacy and greener pastures at USA.
It had not been a walk in the park for the young man who was once attacked after being mistaken for a Japanese while in college.
“However, the Foochow spirit ingrained by my grandparents and parents helped me to be resilient and hardworking to become successful.
Wong joined the US Army where he served in active duty for 20 years until his retirement as a Criminal Investigation Command special agent.
The elected mayor of the tenth largest jurisdiction in the state of Ohio with 65,000 inhabitants is into his 17th year and will serve two decades upon completion of this fifth term.
“I am very proud to come back here as a native son of Sibu. Lots of development. Could not even recognise (Sibu). Only recognise a few structures downtown and riverfront area.
“I may be far away but I always remember where I came from-my roots in Sibu. I learned to swim in Rajang River,” said Wong who was educated at Methodist Primary School and Kwong Hua Primary School here.
Yesterday, Wong paid a courtesy call to Sibu Municipal Council chairman Clarence Ting and extended an invitation to establish friendship between West Chester and Sibu.
Also present during the courtesy call were the council’s Public Health, Environment and Municipal Services standing committee vice chairperson Jenny Ting, acting secretary Yong Ing Chu and councillor Raymond Tiong.