Goodbye, dearest friend; goodbye, fighter for Justice, Freedom and Solidarity

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Ch'ng Teng Liang and his wife at Aliran's Merdeka Dinner on 20 September 1986

Ch’ng Teng Liang, 72, one of Aliran’s most dedicated, generous and long-time members, passed away on 25 February 2015, in his Cangkat Minden house after suffering a heart attack.

Ch'ng Teng Liang and his wife at Aliran's Merdeka Dinner on 20 September 1986
Ch’ng Teng Liang and his wife at Aliran’s Merdeka Dinner on 20 September 1986

He had not been well for more than a year after he was diagnosed with cancer in late 2013 and began a series of treatment for the disease.

Teng Liang joined Aliran in 1981. He served in several committees including in the Executive Committee (2008-2012), and as honorary auditor (1988-89, 2012-13). He was also very active in the Chinese community especially in the Penang Teochew Association, which he ultimately served as honorary secretary for several years. For several years, he wrote a column in one of the local Chinese newspapers too.

Through him, Aliran was able to link up to Chinese-educated Malaysians, to the Chinese shetuans or associations, and to the Chinese-language media. When we organised our public talks and seminars, Teng Liang would invite the Chinese media to report on the event and painstakingly explain to the reporters present the issues being discussed. When we organised our fund-raising dinners and other events, he would get his shetuan contacts to donate to our cause.

Over the years, he helped to translate Aliran’s more important press statements into Chinese. Prior to writing his newspaper column, he would chat with several of us about the issues he intended to raise. For Teng Liang believed that Aliran’s call to justice, freedom and solidarity had to be shared and highlighted with those who were more comfortable in the Chinese language. Towards this end he especially dedicated himself.

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A Penangite, Teng Liang was a member of the first group of students who enrolled in the School of Social Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia. He graduated in Economics in 1973. He first worked in the textile industry which was then the mainstay of industrialisation in Penang.

Subsequently, he was involved in a factory that produced fans and other electrical equipment. I mention this because Teng Liang, who served in the Aliran Fund-raising and Building Committee, generously installed all the lights and fans in our building in 1997.

In later years, Teng Liang established his own trading company and consulted for those who were interested in investing overseas, including in China.

Like all of us, Teng Liang was especially inspired by the Reformasi and the Bersih 2.0 movements, and excited by the prospect of ushering in a two-party system and promoting justice, freedom and solidarity.

On 28 April 2012, when Duduk Bantah was called, Aliran organised a mini-version of the event in the Esplanade in Penang. On that occasion, Teng Liang stepped forward to deliver his speech in Mandarin in front of the 10,000 people present. Oh yes, he was also responsible for getting his towkay-friend to donate hundreds of cartons of bottled water for the event.

And when we hosted Ambiga Sreenevasan, co-chair of Bersih 2.0 to speak in the Dewan Masyarakat Penyayang, again, we distributed hundreds of cartons of free bottled water to the estimated 500 people present. Teng Liang made all the arrangements again.

He also helped in the fund-raising dinners that Aliran organised. On two occasions he sold a few tables to his friends and clan members.

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A year later, as GE13 approached, Aliran was involved in organising a series of forums about the critical issues surrounding the elections. One of these was held in Ipoh, where Teng Liang once again bravely stepped forward. Again he delivered in Mandarin and helped Aliran to reach out further.

Shortly after GE13, Teng Liang was diagnosed with cancer and began treatment, which weakened him. He wanted very much to attend our most recent fund-raising dinner, held in Penang on 11 October 2014 and our AGM on 23 November 2014. Alas, on both those days, he was feeling weak and so missed both events. But one day when he was feeling better, he did drop by the office to hand over some books and to find out how the events had gone.

Teng Liang leaves behind his dear wife Ong Kim Ean, sons Shi Baw and Shi P’ng, and daughter Carol.

Goodbye, dearest friend. Goodbye, fighter for Justice Freedom and Solidarity. We shall miss you dearly.

Dr Francis Loh
President, Aliran
27 February 2015

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