Politicians, Malaysian civil society leaders pay tribute to former minister VK Liew





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Liew’s passing elicited an outpouring of tributes from both friends and foe for the politician they described as a ‘good man’ and strong rights advocate. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

GEORGE TOWN, Oct 2 — The death of Batu Sapi MP Datuk Liew Vui Keong, better known as VK Liew, has elicited an outpouring of tributes from both friends and foe for the politician they described as a “good man” and strong rights advocate.

News of Liew’s passing quickly spread online and within an hour, the term “VK Liew” was trending in Malaysia on Twitter.

Most messages were condolences to Liew’s family from the public, non-governmental organisations and politicians.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin also offered his sympathies to the Liew family for their loss.

The All Women’s Action Society tweeted a picture of Liew holding a poster on the Sexual Harassment Bill with the message. “A fitting picture of the late Datuk VK Liew advocating for the Sexual Harassment Bill at Parliament last August. A man who not only stood for women’s rights but worked hard to turn rhetoric to reality. We have lost a strong advocate & all of civil society mourns. May you RIP Sir.”

Parti Warisan Sabah secretary-general Datuk Loretto Padua Jr issued a statement saying the party lost a well-respected leader who contributed to the country and state through his hard work and dedication.

“Parti Warisan Sabah is deeply saddened by the untimely passing of its Chairman and Batu Sapi Member of Parliament, Datuk Liew Vui Keong today on 2 October, 2020,” he said.

He said Warisan president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal also extended his deepest condolences to Datin Lindai Lee and her four children.

“The family asks that their privacy be respected as they grieve during this very difficult time,” he said.

He added that funeral arrangements will be made known in due course.

PBS president Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili said Liew was a very dedicated leader especially on Sabah rights.

“Datuk VK Liew is a good friend and a fine leader. We pray for his family and may God bestow comfort and mercies during this difficult time,” he said.

Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh said on Twitter that citizens groups had enjoyed working with Liew because of his willingness to listen.

“When I rang you to join a discussion with women groups, as a law minister you had no problem coming over to a Deputy Minister’s office. Sabah and Warisan lost a vital voice,” she tweeted.

Former education minister and Simpang Renggam MP Maszlee Malik posted a picture of him with Liew when the latter was in the hospital a few days ago with the message, and expressed shock to learn of his former Cabinet colleague’s death.

“I still remember how hardworking he was. His fighting spirit and optimism towards any nation building and change had already qualified him to be a well known statesman. Today, my friend left me, all of us and the country. I would like to extend my condolences to his family,” he wrote on Twitter.

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim extended his condolences to Liew’s family and lauded Liew for his contributions as a law minister under the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration, saying this will always be remembered by the people and the country.

Lawyers for Liberty Advisor N. Surendran issued a brief statement to stress on Liew’s strong support of human rights and his advocacy against the death penalty.

“He pushed for the abolition of the death penalty, even though he met strong opposition from some of his PH Cabinet colleagues,” he said.

He said Liew was plain-spoken and practical but very determined.

“He did his best to help and went above and beyond his duties as a minister,” he said adding that Liew’s death is a tragic loss for the country.

Lawyer and human rights activist Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan tweeted that Liew did his best to get the death penalty abolished.

“Always open to meeting civil society, he fought sincerely to move the reform forward. We will miss him. May he rest in peace,” she said.

PKR secretary-general Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail issued a statement on behalf of the party to extend their condolences to Liew’s family.

“He was a former PH minister who was dedicated and committed towards law reforms especially the death penalty and prison systems,” he said.

DAP secretary-general and Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng called Liew a fellow fighter for truth and justice for Sabah and Malaysia.

“He was serious about his ministerial duties but he never forgot his duty to his beloved state Sabah,” he said.

He said Liew’s most notable accomplishment as a minister was when he tried in Parliament to restore and reinstate the status of Sabah and Sarawak on an equal footing with Peninsular Malaysia in the Federal Constitution.

“On a personal note, VK Liew was a warm and generous, devoted husband and family man,”

“We salute VK by committing to complete what he set out to accomplish for unity in Sabah and Malaysia. God Bless His Soul. Rest In Peace,” he said.

Liew had been under intensive care at the Gleneagles Hospital in Kota Kinabalu due to a collapsed lung before he succumbed to his condition at 11.50am today.

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