10 April 2010
Saturday April 10, 2010
KUCHING: Deputy Transport Minister and Sibu MP Datuk Robert Lau Hoi Chew died yesterday morning after a long battle with liver cancer, triggering yet another by-election, the 11th since the last general election. Lau’s private secretary, Peter Hu, said Lau, 68, passed away at 11.10am at the Selayang Hospital in Kuala Lumpur.
Lau’s body arrived at his hometown Sibu at 11pm last night in an RMAF plane from Kuala Lumpur. Several hundred people from all walks of life were at the airport to receive his body which was brought back to his home at Bruang Road. A family mass will be held at the house today. Tomorrow, there will be a funeral procession around Sibu town before mass at St Mary’s Church. He will be buried at Nirvana Memorial Park.
He leaves behind wife Datin Janet Lau Ung Hie and three children.
His last official function was the launching of Kolej Laila Taib by Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud in Sibu on March 1. A by-election will have to be called within 60 days. Election Commission chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said the EC would normally announce the dates for the nomination and by-election within 10 days following the vacancy of a seat.
Lau, who was the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) vice-president, had been the Sibu MP for five terms since 1990. In his 1990 election debut, he defeated DAP’s Ling Sie Ming and Tang Lung Chiew of Parti Buruh Sarawak to win the seat with a 2,008-vote majority. In the last general election, he beat Sarawak DAP chairman Wong Ho Leng and PKR’s Lim Chin Chuang in a three-cornered fight, retaining the seat with a 3,235-vote majority.
Helping hand: Pierre Lau helping his mother after paying their last respects at the Nirvana Memorial Centre in Kuala Lumpur.
He was appointed Deputy Housing and Local Government Minister in March 2004, a portfolio which he retained after the general election in 2008.
However, after Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak took office as Prime Minister in April last year, Lau was made Deputy Transport Minister in a minor Cabinet reshuffle.
Lau was once given the nickname “Toilet King” for his tireless efforts in trying to establish a culture of cleanliness in public toilets in the country during his stint at the Housing and Local Government Ministry. He was the chairman of Sibu Municipal Council from 1999 to 2004. Under his chairmanship, Sibu saw tremendous development in terms of infrastructure facilities and overall cleanliness of the town.
He banned chicken and duck rearing in housing estates in efforts to clean up the backyards.
Lau’s family controls the KTS group, a powerful conglomerate founded by his late brother Datuk Seri Lau Hui Kang, with interest in the timber industry and the media. Meanwhile, his eldest son, Alvin Lau Lee Jen, 39, paid tribute to his father, saying he fought a great fight but his time was up. He pledged to continue with his father’s legacy of building schools in Sibu.