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From politics to pulpit: Honouring the life of Datuk Chua Jui Meng

By Hailey Chung

A devoted follower of Jesus Christ, Chua Jui Meng, renowned as Malaysia’s longest-serving Health Minister and bestowed with the honorific title “Datuk Indera”, departed from this world on December 3, 2023, leaving behind a legacy that extended beyond the political realm.

He marked a significant milestone just weeks before his passing, celebrating his 80th birthday on October 22, 2023. 

Surrounded by the love of his family including his wife, Datin Honey Wong Nyet Lan, five sons, and 11 grandchildren, the celebration of his life reflected his dedication to his family, his nation and the Christian faith.

A two-day wake service, held at Full Gospel Assembly (FGA) in Kuchai Lama, Kuala Lumpur (KL), resonated with the echoes of a life well-lived. The church, which Jui Meng referred to as his home, became a sanctuary of remembrance adorned with an abundance of funeral flowers.

Greeting cards accompanied each arrangement, revealing the outpouring of love from beloved friends and co-workers. 

While the main sanctuary drew a substantial amount of physical attendees, simultaneously, the livestream videos of the wake services on YouTube, at the time of writing, had garnered a combined total of 36.9k views.

It was a reflection of the widespread influence of Jui Meng’s life as friends, colleagues, and well-wishers from near and far joined to honour his memory, as well as celebrate the impact he had on the lives of those he touched.

The wake services and funeral (family only) of Datuk Chua Jui Meng were held at FGA KL. Credit: FGA KL

A man of faithfulness to family

“Dad was an accomplished man; throughout his 80 years, he was known by many titles: lawyer, politician, businessman, and in his latter years, preacher and evangelist. Always excelling and giving his best in everything he did,” Damien Chua Chor Wey, his fourth son, said in a tearful but joyous tribute.

Despite the regret of Jui Meng’s busyness during his political career, Damien cherished the transformative years post-politics when their father-son bond deepened.

“He was kind, gentle and very loving. He often expressed how happy he was when the family was by his side. And I remember he liked to sing us funeral songs to remind us that one day, he would soon pass away because he liked to see us cry and say how much we loved him. But we never dreamt of this day,” Damien said.

Damien also recounted Jui Meng’s powerful encounter with God in his early 60s, the joy of Jesus delivering him from oppression and illnesses, and the audible voice of God declaring a divine purpose, saying “I AM the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, through you, I will do many things.”

His son said Jui Meng was initially shy to share the gospel and his testimonies, but God encouraged him that such was the duty of every Christian. “He went everywhere he was invited, prayed for so many people and saw Jesus healed and delivered them supernaturally through prayer,” Damien said.

Highlighting his father’s pastoral heart and genuine concern for others, Damien shared that Jui Meng’s final moments were focused on winning souls for Christ.

Damien Chua shares about his father’s life and impact. Credit: FGA KL

A man of steel, love and compassion

Chang Aik Ming, who served as Jui Meng’s former press secretary from 1989 to 2000, delivered a heartfelt eulogy capturing the essence of the distinguished leader. 

He painted Jui Meng as more than a minister in the government’s cabinet.

Aik Ming underscored the respect Jui Meng earned from prominent political figures, including the current Malaysian Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, and Anwar’s wife, former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who came to pay their respects. 

Anwar, in particular, described Jui Meng as a “man of steel.” Aik Meng went on to say that the former longest-serving Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who appointed Jui Meng as Health Minister, had also personally penned a letter of condolences to Jui Meng’s family.

Expressing deep gratitude for Jui Meng’s mentorship, Aik Ming credited him as the second-most important man in his life, recognising the profound impact on his family. “I was his secretary; I had the privilege of witnessing the man behind the title.

Datuk Chua Jui Meng was not just a leader; he was a caring, tolerant and loving superior. I was his most mischievous and undisciplined secretary, but Datuk Chua still retained me and retrained me until I became a full-fledged practising lawyer,” he said.

“Datuk Chua Jui Meng leaves us a legacy of love, resilience and compassion… he was not only a ‘man of steel’ in that he was a man of principles; at the same time, he was also a man of love,” Aik Meng said.

A man who exemplified God’s love for people

Elders from FGA KL also shared their reflections, echoing Jui Meng’s full-fledged commitment to evangelism and his practical love for God’s people. 

FGA KL Chairman Elder Liew Hoi Foo said, “Brother Chua Jui Meng loved the Lord, loved his family and he loved God’s people. He never failed to share what we must do as time is running out for the lost, especially towards the underprivileged. He was not an armchair evangelist but a full-fledged down-to-earth evangelist who’d go down the field to remote places that many of us may not want to visit.”

FGA KL Chairman Elder Liew Hoi Foo (on stage) praying for Jui Meng’s family. Credit: FGA KL

Delving into the scriptures of 1 Corinthians 15, Elder Khoo Kay Hup drew a parallel, portraying Jui Meng as a man of great stature who fervently communicated the transformative power of Christ’s resurrection in the public sphere, akin to the Apostle Paul’s exhortation for Christians to consistently labour with enthusiasm for the Lord.

Khoo poignantly remarked, “If you stay with him for a while, you will also get addicted to what Jui Meng is addicted to, which is the saving of souls.”

In collective joy and admiration, the celebration of Datuk Chua Jui Meng’s life transcended earthly titles, painting a vibrant portrait of a man who not only walked the political stage but also exemplified a profound faith journey, leaving behind a legacy of boundless joy and compassion for generations to come.

Cover Image Credit: Hailey Chung

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