Remembering Masing: Son reflects on father’s legacy as statesman, patriarch

Ashley Layo Masing

By Ling Hui

KUCHING, Nov 6: When I was younger, I had a disdain for politics, says Ashley Layo Masing, the son of late Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing.

Being the only son of a prominent figure in Sarawak, he said it was difficult growing up with all eyes on him too.


This, and the fact that he could rarely see his father at home due to work, had somehow made him jaded towards his father’s job.

“(I would think about) how occasionally he was around, how scrutinised I was by people at school, how random people I have never met would attach certain labels on me and the pressure that came with that.

“But when he died, all of that disappeared, and suddenly the only things I could think about were the good times: the mornings he spent with us, the long-haul trips we took each year, the naps he’d have in the living room while I attempted to play the piano.

“It was then that I became so immensely aware of the legacy he left behind, hearing it echo in the tears of people I’ve never known,” he told DayakDaily.

Though the father-son duo were not always on the same page politically, Ashley said they both cared deeply about Sarawak.

And in the days after his father’s passing, he said the universe had found ways to lead him to see his similarities with his father, rather than their differences that he used to focus on.

On the day (Nov 3) of Masing’s funeral wake at Association of Churches in Sarawak, Jalan Stampin, he talked about how it had come full circle and the realisation of how his father’s life had at many moments touched point with his.

“I think back to the story of how he (Masing) had lost his own father whilst at university in a faraway country, and how he struggled to find his way back home to pay his respects and say goodbye.

“And in a strange twist of fate the same thing happened to me,” he said in his eulogy to Masing.

Ashley said his perception of home had changed tremendously without his father around.

The house felt bigger than he remembered it, he said.

“It feels haunted but in a good way I think; I see my father’s ghost lingering in the books he keeps by the office, in the now empty dinner chair he sits at, in the wedding ring and cellphone he’s left behind.

“His spirit is scattered into a tiny million things all sparkling in different places that I’ve only started noticing now. This place doesn’t feel like home anymore but at the same time it feels more at home than it ever did.

“And what a strange full circle moment it is to be in the position he was when he lost his own father. I’d like to think that maybe his spirit lingers around me the same way it lingers around our house, in a way, I carry home with me wherever I go.”

Masing passed away on Oct 31 at the age of 72 at Normah Sarawak Medical Centre due to heart complications.

He is survived by his wife Puan Sri Dato Corrine Masing, two daughters and a son. He has two daughters from an earlier marriage.

Born on March 5, 1949, Masing had served as Deputy Chief Minister of Sarawak under the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem and current Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg since May 2016.

He was also the Sarawak Minister for Infrastructure and Port Development since 2016. Since 2004, he had also helmed Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) as its founder and its first president until his passing.

He had held the Baleh seat for eight consecutive terms since 1983. — DayakDaily