Wong Pow Nee
|Yang Berbahagia Tan Sri|
Wong Pow Nee
|1st Chief Minister of Penang|
31 August 1957 – 12 May 1969
|Preceded by||Inaugural holder|
|Succeeded by||Lim Chong Eu|
Wong Pow Nee|
7 October 1911
Bukit Mertajam, Penang, Straits Settlements
31 August 2002 90) (aged|
George Town, Penang, Malaysia
|Political party||Malaysian Chinese Association|
Tan Sri Wong Pow Nee (7 October 1911 – 31 August 2002) was a Malaysian politician and diplomat. He was Penang's first Chief Minister, serving from 1957 to 1969 and Malaysia's first Ambassador to Rome.
Young Wong Pow Nee was educated first at the Chinese Jit Sin Primary School then the Anglo-Chinese School and after that at St. Xavier's Institution from which he graduated in 1933.
Instead of pursuing further studies abroad, Wong Pow Nee went to work as a clerk at the Bukit Mertajam Catholic Benevolent Society. In 1935, he took up a clerical position with the Sin Ban Guan Bus Company, but the company folded not long after and Wong Pow Nee embarked on a very different career. Between 1937 and 1941 he taught English at St. Mary's Mission School at Permatang Tinggi. In 1945 he taught English at Kim Sen Primary School in Bukit Mertajam. At the same time he enrolled in a Teachers Training Course from which he graduated in 1947.
Politics and public service
In 1954 he stood for elections in the first Bukit Mertajam Town Council elections, having reluctantly accepted the nomination of villagers who insisted on being represented by him. He won a seat on the Council under Dr. Lim Chong Eu's Radical Party, formed earlier in 1951. In 1955, together with Dr. Lim Chong Eu, he joined the Malayan Chinese Association following the bad defeat of the Penang Radical Party which was defeated by the newly formed Alliance, and was re-elected to the Council under the Alliance party, after having successfully campaigned against independent candidate Dr. M. P. L. Yegappan.
In 1957 he was appointed Chief Minister of Penang and delivered, before the large crowd gathered there, the Proclamation of Independence at Esplanade on 31 August, after Tengku Abdul Rahman had done the same in Kuala Lumpur.
He was a member of the Cobbold Commission formed in 1962 that ascertained the views of residents in Sabah (then North Borneo) and Sarawak about joining the Federation of Malaysia preparing the framework for the eventual incorporation of Sabah and Sarawak in 1963. Lord Cobbold headed the Commission. Other members of the Commission assisting him, together with Wong Pow Nee, were Tan Sri Ghazali Shafiee, Sir Anthony Abell and Sir David Watherston. The result of their work was the Cobbold Commission Report 1962. Proudly he read out the proclamation of the formation of Malaysia at the Esplanade, at George Town in 1963
In 1969 he failed in his bid to retain the Bukit Mertajam seat and was defeated by Gerakan candidate Dato Ooh Chooi Cheng (Chinese: 余水清; pinyin: Yú Shuǐqīng). He suffered a heart attack in December that year but recovered well enough to continue his service to King and country.
Wong died on Merdeka Day 31 August 2002 at 6.30am, aged 91. He left behind his wife, Law Siew Kim, seven sons and three daughters. He was accorded a state funeral of the highest honour. Among those who came to pay their last respects were Governor of Penang Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas, Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Hilmi Yahaya and members of Penang's State Executive Committee.
A memorial was held by Hakka Connextion on Merdeka Day, 31 August 2007. A photo exhibition memorialising the struggles and achievements was hosted from 15 September 2012 by Federation of Hakka Associations of Malaysia at the Penang Hakka Association building in Burmah Road, George Town.
- Berita Harian, 20 May 1970, Page 10
- Choong Kwee-Kim (2006) 'A peek into Hakka heritage' in The Star, 16 August 2006 [online] at accessed on 1 August 2013.
- Chow, Melissa-Darlyne (2012) 'Remembering Tan Sri Wong Pow Nee' in The New Straits Times 11 September 2012 [online] accessed on 1 August 2013.
- Koay Su-Lyn (2013) 'Wong Pow Nee – the first and forgotten CM of Penang' in The Edge [online] at accessed on 1 August 2013.
- Lim Kian-Hock (2010) 'A former civil servant recalls reading out the Malaysia Proclamation' in The Star 16 September 2010 [online] at accessed on 1 August 2013.
- Ng Su-Ann (2007) Tribute to Wong Pow Nee in The Star 9 August 2007 [online] at accessed mon 1 August 2013.
- Ooi Kee-Beng (2013) 'Dr Lim and the unchanging face of Malaysian politics' in The Malaysian Insider 10 July 2013 [online] at accessed on 1 August 2013.
- Tan, Christopher (2012) 'Memorial hall to celebrate Penang's first CM' in The Star 7 September 2012 [online] at accessed on 1 August 2013.
- The Star 1 September 2007 [online] at accessed on 1 August 2013.
- The Straits Times, 13 May 1970, Page 3
- The Straits Times, 14 May 1970, Page 15
- The Straits Times, 6 September 2002, Page 25
- Utusan Malaysia 1 September 2002 [online] at accessed on 1 August 2013.