In Sarawak poll, wives aim to continue late husbands’ work

Chang wants to meet as many people as possible to find out what is on their minds. — Malay Mail pic
Chang wants to meet as many people as possible to find out what is on their minds. — Malay Mail pic

SIBU, April 30 — Almost everyone in town, especially those living and working in the Pelawan state seat, knows of Datuk Janet Lau Ung Hie, 69, the quiet and unassuming direct Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate.

Janet might be a woman of few words, but she is quite well-known for her social work as the wife of former deputy transport minister Datuk Robert Lau, who was Sibu’s five-term MP when he died in 2010. 

“In 1996, I helped set up the One Stop Crisis Centre (OSCC) here which helps victims of family and domestic violence recover and get their lives back on track,”  she said.

“I also founded the Association for Children with Special Needs a year later which provides clinical and community based rehabilitation for the handicapped.

“Helping people in one way or another has always been an important priority for me since I was young.”

She had kept out of the public eye since her husband’s death but about a year ago, she decided — after spending about three decades supporting her husband — the time had come for her to carry on with her husband’s legacy.

“Any election is tough. I knew beforehand that winning an election is anything but easy.

Where my rivals are concerned,  they will be formidable opponents that I respect, but I am confident the people will know who is the best person that can represent them,” said Janet, who has three children and two grandchildren.

“My motto for this election is a simple yet meaningful one, which is ‘With Janet around, Pelawan will definitely be better’.”

Janet is in a three-cornered fight for Pelawan against incumbent DAP’s David Wong and State Reform Party (STAR) candidate Priscilla Lau.

In the 2011 election, Wong had squared off against SUPP’s Vincent Goh and won with a majority of 6,391 votes. 

Janet is one of two widows joining the fray this election. The other is Irene Chang, the DAP candidate for Bukit Assek and wife of incumbent Wong Ho Leng, who died from brain cancer in June 2014. He husband was also state DAP chairman. 

A lawyer by profession and mother of five, Chang believes that by contesting in her husband’s former seat, she has the chance to diligently serve the people like her late husband did.

“After my husband passed on, it took me some time for deep reflection and serious thought as to whether I could actually do it, as in being a good elected leader for the people,” she said.

“I was worried if I could give it my full commitment, having to sacrifice precious family time if elected. But after receiving the support, encouragement and understanding of my children, family and friends, I am ready for the election as this is the best way for me to contribute positively to society.” 

Chang believes in having a personal touch with the constituents because by  doing so, people would know who she really is and what she and her team could do for them.

“We will be going all out to meet as many people as possible to engage them and find out what’s on their minds while also getting to know each other better. It will then be up to them to decide on who is best to represent them,”  she said.

“The future of not only the community and state, but the country as well, is at stake here. I trust the people to be open enough to be able to think how important an alternative voice is in a democracy.” 

Chang is also in a three-cornered fight against BN’s Chieng Buong Toon and     STAR’s Moh Hiong King. Her husband had won the seat with an impressive majority of 8,827 votes in a three-cornered tussle in 2011.