From reluctant to willing politician: Tiong lets Bintulu voters rate his performance

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By Lian Cheng

BINTULU, Nov 9: Initially a reluctant politician, incumbent Bintulu MP Dato Sri Tiong King Sing has now become a willing participant whose happiness depends on the satisfaction of his constituents.

To him, the most successful achievements are the moments when the residents of Bintulu are able to enjoy the conveniences, a sense of security, and a liveable environment, which he plays a part in bringing about.

Reflecting on the day he was offered to stand as a candidate for Bintulu, Tiong said he was reluctant and not keen in the initial stage until he talked to his late father.  

“My father asked me to think twice. (He said) when you become a politician, you must be serious, and you must be honest in serving the people on the ground.  

“If you can’t do that, he said, the day I die, I will not forgive you. So this is the message I was given, which I thought for a long time, which I considered before I made up my mind to be a politician,” Tiong, who is also Dudong assemblyman, told DayakDaily in an exclusive interview recently.

Tiong agreed to stand as the Bintulu candidate for Sarawak National Party (SNAP) in 1999 to replace Datuk Amar James Wong Kim Min, who lost in the 1995 General Election. As it was crucial for SNAP to wrest back the seat, Wong had identified and approached Tiong to contest in his stead to face the incumbent MP Chiew Chiu Sing from Democratic Action Party (DAP).

“It was a tough and challenging task because he (Chiew) was very strong on the ground. (It was) very tough for me to come in as a candidate (who is a new face),” said Tiong, who is also the caretaker Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to China.

As it was his maiden fight, Tiong remembered clearly what happened that day when the votes were being counted.

At 3pm, he was leading with the counting of the rural votes. By 7.30pm, he was still taking the lead with more than 6,000 votes.

When they came to the ballot boxes in the urban area, Tiong found himself losing to Chiew by about 2,000 votes. By then, most ballot boxes were already counted except for some in the Suai area, which was still ongoing.

“Finally, we managed to regain the seat with 1,769 votes. (This was) the first time I became a parliamentarian here (Bintulu) with 1,769 (majority),” said Tiong.

After 23 years of serving the voters of the Bintulu constituency, he refused to comment on his achievements, insisting that it should be the people who should judge his performance.

“Whether I feel proud or not (of his achievements), that is not important. The most important is the people on the ground. If they feel that it (what he had done) is valuable to them, for their conveniences and everything, like security, that they feel that it is safe, and a good place for them to do business here (Bintulu), to live here and all these — I leave it for them to judge.  

“I only do what I can. I do my best, I try my best,” said Tiong.

On his most disappointing experience since becoming a politician, he said the case of a woman threatening him with a cleaver at Kampung Pisang of Kidurong still bothered him.

He said he had been able to settle many cases with longhouse folk through rational negotiations, except for this case, where the woman cursed his mother for giving birth to him and demanded RM1 million for each palm tree she planted on a nearby State land which the government needed to use to expand the drainage system of the area to prevent further flooding. — DayakDaily