REMEMBERING LEONG HO CHIEW

REMEMBERING LEONG HO CHIEW

29 December 1934  to  21 July 1997

Reading the life of Leong Ho Chiew, one is naturally led to the firm belief that he must have been created for a special role in the history of the Cause in Malaysia. He was an early believer who accepted the Faith during the Ten-Year Crusade period and attained a high position in his profession, which enabled him to defend the nation, the Cause  and the community on various occasions. His was a path less traveled.

Leong Ho Chiew or Ho Chiew as he was fondly addressed, is the eldest among the seven children of Leong Tat Chee, who was the first Auxiliary Board member in Malaya and the only delegate from Malaya to participate in the election of the first House of Justice in 1963 and who represented the Chinese race at the First Bahá’í World Congress in London. These, being among the long list of accolades that decorated his colorful Bahá’í life.  Following his father’s footsteps, Ho Chiew had his own unique roles to play, indifferent, and yet effective and impactful ways.

Ho Chiew was always addressed by his siblings as “brother,” in the traditional Chinese way, and never by his first name. He was indeed a good and loving brother and supporter of every one of his siblings. When his parents had a near-fatal car accident in 1952, it was he who looked after the family members.  In the absence of his father during those days when his parents were recovering in hospital, it was Ho Chiew who threw a paternal eye upon his siblings. He made sure that they all had enough food, especially breakfast before starting off for school. He would go to the local bakery and bring back loaves of bread which he would then cut into slices.

Leong Tat Chee became a Bahá’í in 1955 and through his foresight and guidance, his entire family gradually enrolled into the Faith by 1958. All would go on to serve the Cause effectively in their own ways. Ho Chiew was the first to accept the Faith as early as 1956. Ho Chiew was one of those fortunate to have been guided not only by his father and the Bahá’í books made available to him but was deepened through the early visitors to the community, most prominent of which were some Hands of the Cause of God who had visited Malacca. He had met  Shu’á’u’lláh ‘Alá’í in 1956 and again in 1960 when he came to Malacca town, Dr. Raḥmatu’lláh Muhájir who first came to Malacca in 1957, and Abu’l-Qásim Faizi and Agnes Alexander who came for the wedding of E. A. Fernandez and Beatrice Philomena Monteiro (Betty) in October 1958. He would later recall with passion how he basked under their talks and guidance. These were his days of growing in the Faith.

Ho Chiew joined the police force in 1953 at the age of 18 and was posted as a Police Inspector to Jasin town in 1956. As he had related to his family and friends many times, he became upset when he heard that his father had accepted a strange new Faith and was no longer active in temple activities. He decided to travel to Malacca town to berate his father but instead was convinced to accept the Bahá’í Faith in 1956!. One-night when Ho Chiew was back in Jasin, he had a dream in which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá appeared and told him to form a Local Spiritual Assembly in Jasin. He related this dream to Leong Tat Chee who encouraged him to follow the instruction of the beloved Master.

When Ho Chiew was posted to Jasin in 1956, there was only a small band of believers. Tushar Kanti-Paul, a believer from Malacca town had gone there as a teacher in 1955 and served as the home-front pioneer. Jasin was termed as a  ‘black area’ owing to the activities of the outlawed communist insurgents. It was a challenge in spreading the Cause under those difficult circumstances.

One of the regular activities of the Jasin Bahá’ís was to organize firesides. In early 1958 activities began to pick up when Ho Chiew, and Tushar Kanti-Paul, and Anthony Casimir Louis who was also from Malacca was posted to Jasin in early 1957. They organized firesides in Ho Chiew’s police quarters.  Saurajen and Leong Tat Chee from Malacca town would give talks at the firesides. Jeanne Frankel and her mother Margaret Kelly Bates, visiting pioneers from the Nicobar Islands and who thereby became Knights of Bahaullah, participated in the first Summer School in Malacca in 1957 and stayed on in Malacca town to teach and deepen the friends in Malacca town and Jasin.  Jeanne had a role in enabling some local friends to accept the Faith in Jasin. Some of the believers who accepted the Faith around early 1958 were Arumugam Ramanan, a Tamil School Headmaster,  E. A. Fernandez, a Police Officer posted to Jasin from Selangor State, and Raymond Peter a Probationary Health Inspector.   These were among those elected to the first Local Spiritual Assembly in Jasin in 1958.  By the time the Local Spiritual Assembly was elected, Ho Chiew was transferred back to Malacca town. He, together with Jeanne Frankel had laid the foundation for the election of the Local Spiritual Assembly in Jasin.

Upon transfer to Malacca, Ho Chiew married Gina Lee Lun Chou on 20 December 1958, and that was the second Bahá’í wedding in Malaya, the first being that of Tony to Betty. The wedding ceremony was held at the Malacca Municipality Hall. Among the guests were the Hand of the Cause Dr. Muhájir and Mrs. Shirin Fozdar, a pioneer from India to Singapore. At the wedding, Mrs. Fozdar spoke about the Bahá’í Faith and its progress in Malaya, particularly in Malacca. The wedding ceremony was a simple tea party and this simplicity was appreciated by the Hand of the Cause Dr. Muhájir. Ho Chiew did not coerce Gina to accept the Faith, but she on her own accord came to like the Faith and accepted it on 11 December 1958, a few days before their wedding date. This wedding was also instrumental in giving much publicity for the Faith in Malacca.  The Bahá’í News Magazine of June 1959 published by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States reported this Bahá’í wedding with the following caption on page 11, ‘Two Bahá’í Marriages in Malaya Give Wide Publicity to Faith’. It reported as follows,

The second Bahá’í marriage in Malaya was performed on December 20, 1958, for Leong Ho Chiew and Miss Lee Lun Chou. This wedding was also instrumental in giving publicity to the Faith in Malacca. Among the guests were Hand of the Cause of God Dr. Rahmatu’lláh Muhájir and Mrs. Shirin Fozdar. Mrs. Fozdar was given an opportunity to speak about the Bahá’í Faith and its progress in Malaya, particularly in Malacca.


Their wedding with Lily Chinniah (left) as bridesmaid,
and Bill Smits from the USA (right) as bestman

With this sweet beginning, the couple teamed up to serve the Cause resolutely and effectively wherever they resided and became an example of service to many families. They would go on to have two children, Faith Leong was born in 1960 and Shemane Leong was born in 1962.

The timely transfer of Ho Chiew to Malacca in late 1958 was providential as he had an important role to play in the town of Malacca where a serious crisis was fomenting, unfortunately, caused by some ambitious personalities.  In 1959 the Bahá’í community of Malacca was vibrant with a great number of activities were carried out unitedly. However, the community began witnessing estrangement among some key believers and in 1960 this developed into a serious crisis that split the community.  Ho Chiew was elected to the Local Spiritual Assembly in Ridván 1960, and as a member of the institution, he showed so much fortitude and courage in strikingly and courageously defending both the institutions and the community.  God-given courage enabled him to mitigate the effects of the crisis.


Father and son serving on the Local Spiritual Assembly of Malacca town, 1960. Seated L-R: Lena Saurajen, Saurajen, Tony Fernandez, Leong Tat Chee, and Betty Fernandez. Standing L-R: Chin Soon Boon, Kumara Das,  Leong Ho Chiew, and Raymond Peter

Sometime after the election of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Malacca in 1960, Ho Chiew was transferred from Malacca to Kuala Lumpur as a Police Inspector to work in the Police Headquarters in Bluff Road. That was the time when the Petaling Jaya community that would later become one of the premier communities in the country was just budding. Manpower and a meeting place were needed for the growth of the Petaling Jaya community and Ho Chiew and Gina were to play a significant part.  Three prominent believers teamed up to form the nucleus of the community. One was Ho Chiew who took up residence at 45, Jalan 47, Petaling Jaya. The other was Maheshwar Dayal, a pioneer from India to Malaya in 1958 who also took up residence in Petaling Jaya. He worked in the Marketing Department of the Lever Brothers and left for Canada in January 1966. In 1962 Dr. Robert J.  Wolff, a medical officer from Hawaii, and his wife Elinor came to Petaling Jaya. Dr. Wolff was a nutrition expert from the World Health Organisation who came to study the dietary habits of the aborigine people. He rented a bungalow at 9, Road 5/35, Petaling Jaya. Dr. Wolff and his wife resided in Petaling Jaya until 1964. Of the three houses, the home of the Wolffs became the focal point of activities. Since manpower was still inadequate in Kuala Lumpur in 1961 the members of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Kuala Lumpur in that year was made up of Ho Chiew and Maheshwar Dayal from Petaling Jaya, with Ho Chiew serving as the Secretary. In that sense, Ho Chiew had a role in the early development of the Faith in Kuala Lumpur as well as Petaling Jaya. In October 1962, the Local Spiritual Assembly of Petaling Jaya itself was formed with the assistance of the Bahá’ís of Kuala Lumpur.

When Dr. Wolff left Malaysia in 1964, there was a need for a proper meeting place and the home of Ho Chiew and Gina served the purpose. In 1967 he moved to a new bungalow at 8, Jalan Padang in Petaling Jaya, which then came to be the “defacto” Bahá’í Center for Petaling Jaya. Ho Chiew and Gina’s new home became a sanctuary for the youths and many visiting Bahá’ís. Believers from other parts of the country coming to Kuala Lumpur for work or education were invariably drawn to the home of Ho Chiew in Petaling Jaya, which was becoming a satellite town to Kuala Lumpur. Everyone was made to feel welcome with cold drinks and warm greetings from his family. Each evening close to ten youth would gather for conversation about the Faith and fellowship which would invariably end up with dinner. Ho Chiew would walk into the house after his work looking stylish and smart in his Police Inspector uniform and head for his bedroom. Within moments, he would come out of his room in ‘sarong’ as and join the rest of the friends as one of them. His strict police-image would simply evaporate. It was the warm hospitality of the Leong family, that built up the early community of Petaling Jaya. While the vast majority of the believers were youths, there were very few families and the Leongs were one of those few.   There were occasions when a visiting Hand of the Cause of God was picked up from Subang airport and brought for an informal meeting at the Ho Chew’s residence. It was a wonderful treat when visitors, including his father Leong Tat Chee, who would come over and stay the night.


Leongs in Petaling Jaya opened their home and hearts for the Bahá’í community.

In 1969, Yin Hong Shuen and T. Thanabalan rented a room in their house in 1969. When Yin Hong Shuen left the following year, T.K. Lee became the roommate of Thanabalan.  These three are among the many other youths who found a true homely spirit and atmosphere at the residence of the Leongs.

The living room became a perfect platform for action and activities. Banners for the first World Peace Day held in September 1970 in Petaling Jaya that was the first of its kind in this part of the world, and for the Oceanic Conference in early 1971 in Singapore were prepared in the living room and the garage of the Leong family. To a large extent, the Leongs had to sacrifice their privacy for the needs of the Faith.

By 1968 the Petaling Jaya community was gaining in strength with more people coming into the Faith. Tony Fernandez was transferred from Bagan Serai to Petaling Jaya as Officer-in-Charge of Police District and his family added further strength. His children Shirin and Zeena joined the children of Ho Chiew – Faith and Shemane in children classes held every Sunday. In 1969,  Mr. Lee Tiew Kiang (T. K. Lee) living in Petaling Jaya and working with the Straits Times daily accepted the Faith through Yin Hong Shuen. Another strong addition to the community of the Greatest Name in 1969 was Shirley Wong Mooi Nyuke who was guided into the Faith in a most interesting way. In 1960 the Leong family transferred from Malacca to a house opposite that of Shirley Wong who was then a child of  8 years. She would frequent the house of the Leongs and helped make tea and serve the Bahá’í friends visiting them. She well remembers the year 1963 when she joined Gina in making tea for a large group of friends who had gathered in the house of the Leongs before making their trip to Singapore to catch a plane to fly to London to attend the First Bahá’í World Congress. Gina brought Shirley into the Faith.

With these developments, the Local Spiritual Assembly and the community of Petaling Jaya were soon well established, with Ho Chiew as Chairman for many years. He stressed punctuality and meetings always started on time. All members of the Local Spiritual Assembly were pillars of strength and rose to serve with distinction in the manifold arenas of the Cause. The old believers recall Ho Chiew as a no-nonsense person where Faith was concerned and a very effective Chairman. As for the youths, Ho Chiew was a role model, and together with his dear wife Gina, they left a deep culture of servitude to the Holy Threshold which these youths emulated in their later years.


Husband and wife on the Local Spiritual Assembly of Petaling Jaya, 1971. Seated L-R: James Liew, Gina, Leong Ho Chiew, and Thanabalan. Standing L-R: V. Theenathayalu, Ying Hong Shuen, M. Singaraveloo, T.K. Lee, and N. S. S. Silan. The Leongs were the only married members of this Assembly.

Ho Chiew was transferred to Tapah town at the end of 1972 on promotion as Assistant Superintendent of Police, a high-ranking position in the Police Force. The Local Spiritual Assembly of Petaling Jaya, in bidding him a sad farewell, acknowledged his regular contribution to the Bahá’í Funds and his relentless efforts in galvanizing the community. His family had played a significant role Petaling Jaya and they were destined to play another important role in Tapah. In Tapah he was also a Special Branch officer who had to risk his life in the course of fighting against the communist insurgents. His father Leong Tat Chee, at that time ailing with cancer, was very worried and urged his family members to pray hard for Ho Chiew’s protection.

Ho Chiew remained in Tapah for some five years.  Tapah was the closest town to the jungles of Perak where the Asli people (aborigines) lived in large numbers. Thus it was in Tapah that Ho Chiew had a new role to play in the Cause- providing comfort, consolation, and strength to the Asli believers. The Asli believers started to come to his spacious government bungalow house from the interiors of Perak and Pahang states and would pass several nights. Mr. Rama Naidu, another active teacher of the Asli people residing in the neighboring Bidor town would come over to the house of Ho Chiew and conduct training institutes for them. Ho Chiew and his wife would happily welcome and cook and serve these Asli friends. A few days in advance of these gatherings, Ho Chiew would chop woods for cooking while Gina was a mother figure and provided the best hospitality and treated them with all kindness.


Strict in looks, yet tender in the heart.

Ho Chiew had a heart larger than life. Living in the jungles, the Asli friends were not accustomed to life in urban settings, especially toilet habits. Ho Chiew, out of his love for them added toilets and other facilities for them, along with an extension of kitchen for cooking facilities. The Asli friends would not know how to use the toilets, and after they had left, Ho Chiew would patiently clean the toilets himself. When they were leaving back into the jungles, Ho Chiew would quietly slip some money into their pockets in case they needed to buy anything in Tapah town.  The Asli friends by and large were not accustomed to such sincere love and affection from the wider world. They saw the teachings translated into action in the persons of Ho Chiew and Gina. The couple was completely freed from prejudice in their dealings with those simple people who had not yet been polluted by the urban lifestyle.

The couple loved and admired the Asli believers for their sincerity, honesty, discipline, and their sacrificial contributions to the Bahá’í funds. Walking for days from the jungles they would carry along their home-made bamboo savings tubes, and upon arriving at their residence in Tapah would hand over the funds to be passed on to the National Treasurer in Kuala Lumpur. The bamboo saving tubes would be full of coins, which, when added up would not be much by urban standards. Suffice to say the Asli friends would have sacrificed their wages of many days to make these contributions.

The Asli friends, when coming to Tapah town for any reason would be very excited to visit the home of Ho Chiew. But in 1976 visits by urban people into the jungles were prohibited on account of government security control. This prevented Bahá’ís too from freely going into the jungles of Perak. For the Asli friends who were able to come out of the jungles, they came to the house of Ho Chiew for meetings. Likewise, meetings for them were also held in Cameron Highlands in the neighbouring state of Pahang. The 24-hour curfew imposed in 1976 was a blessing, as the responsibility to take the Faith to the Asli people fell on the shoulders of the Asli believers themselves. With their own teaching initiatives, they brought in large groups of the Temiar people from the state of Kelantan. But a new challenge emerged.  Within the Temiar tribe, a rumor was spread that the Bahá’í Faith was sympathetic to the communist cause, and so they kept away from the Faith for some time.  But when they saw Ho Chiew, such a high-ranking officer was a Bahá’í they realized that the rumour was unfounded,  and this change of mind was a turning point for Asli people from the Temiar tribe returning once again to the Bahá’í fold.


Leong Ho Chiew, third from left, with some Asli believers during an
Asli Institute, Cameron Highlands, 1978

Ho Chiew was a  great defender of the Cause, and the nation as well. He defended the country aggressively from the outlawed communist insurgents so successfully that they dreaded Ho Chiew as their real threat. They naturally employed dirty means to match his might and strength.  Thus due to his success in suppressing communist activities around Tapah, it was in 1975 that Ho Chiew’s life came under constant threat and he too went through great distress, even for a man known for his extraordinary courage. Working as a Special Branch Officer he was involved in very sensitive and dangerous assignments.  The checked insurgents threatened to end his life.  His supervisor urged him to change his appearance by growing beard and mustache. He found it difficult to sleep and the little sleep ever was with his official gun next to him for personal protection. At the height of this stress that Ho Chiew wrote a confidential letter to Shirley Wong, by then a trusted friend who was much loved by his wife and two children, leaving instructions in case the unexpected happened. The typewritten letter from the Police Head Office in Tapah dated 11 June 1975 reads,

Dear Shirley,

Recently I have been thinking seriously about the latest killings of our special branch officers by the underground communists. In all, there were now ten killings. This is just the beginning and there will be more to come. We hope not. In our daily duties and life, anything can happen to oneself (pray to God that it doesn’t). This is an occupational hazard and we leave it to Bahá’u’lláh to guide and protect us for He knows what is best for us. However, I have to plan ahead and prepare now if anything should happen to myself during the course of my daily life and duties. Hence I am writing this letter to you requesting you to be a spiritual and physical sister of my children should my life be in danger. I know my children always think of you as an elder sister but more so a spiritual one. I hope I am not asking too much, but I only know you are close to the children. If anything should happen to me, Gina and the children will be taken care of moderately. They will be able to live comfortably, but not luxuriously. This is all I request from you and please keep this letter in confidence and file it for future reference. A copy of this letter is filed in my personal file. Allah-u-Abha and our love to you always.

(Signed)
Leong Ho Chiew


Shirley Wong, a trusted family friend, married to Lum Weng Hoe

When Shirley received the letter from Ho Chiew, she was totally shocked, shaken up and for a moment lost in thoughts. After recital of some prayers she summoned all her strength and telephoned Ho Chiew in Tapah. She informed him that  she was too young and  still single to handle such a heavy responsibility. Ho Chiew replied that when the time comes she would rise to the occasion, armed with the guidance from Bahá’u’lláh. She kept the letter in her drawer and prayed ardently for the protection of Ho Chiew and his family. (This letter is now made available to the public for the first time- through this blog). Family members and friends who knew his situation prayed for the protection of his family. Enveloped by constant prayers by family and friends he weathered the emotional cyclone and withstood all sufferings with unflinching strength. Finally, with the mercy of Bahá’u’lláh, his life was spared. It became clear that the fate and life of Ho  Chiew was in the hands of Bahá’u’lláh and not in the hands of his enemies. All family friends, including Shirley rendered thanks unto God. That was not the end of his ordeal. If threat to his life was not enough, some mischief makers resorted to a cowardly act of sending petitions of all kinds about him to the Police Headquarters. His involvement in consorting with the Asli people was misrepresented to the Police Headquarters. When Ho Chiew was summoned for explanation, he turned that inquiry  session into a beautiful fireside. Those in authority were satisfied and Ho Chiew returned with results- having earned admiration for the Faith at the top levels in the Police Force. But his family was not to remain in Tapah for long.

After Tapah, he was sent to Kampar town in 1979 as the Officer in Charge of Police District (OCPD) of the Kampar District. Here too he was actively serving the Faith by organizing Bahá’í activities, especially many firesides. He introduced a new culture at his workplace. He allowed members of the public to walk into his room with no prior appointment. This was precedence not to be continued by his successors after his transfer out of Kampar town.

When Ho Chiew was in Kampar, he was told that his next posting would be coming soon and was informed that he would be posted to Kota Baru town in Kelantan state. However, when the letter of transfer arrived, it said that they were transferring him to Ipoh. Ho Chiew was puzzled at this unexpected turn of events as he saw Ipoh as comparatively a sleepy town and not suited to a police officer of his seniority and experience. However, unbeknown to Ho Chiew, it seems Bahá’u’lláh had His own plan for him. It was to do with Yankee Leong, whom the Universal House of Justice referred to as the first enlightened soul to accept the Faith withing the country.  Yankee Leong was by then in his 80s, retired, and living in the residence of his daughter Theresa Chee in Ipoh. Thus, Ho Chiew arrived in Ipoh in 1985 as Assistant Superintendent of Police, a very high-ranking position. While in Ipoh, Yankee Leong was failing in his health. One day Ho Chiew had a dream which he related to his wife, and later to Soheil, son of his sister Lily Chinniah and a few others. In his dream, his father Leong Tat Chee appeared with a smile and stated that in 3 days, Yankee Leong would pass away. Leong Tat Chee told Ho Chiew to make photocopies of Yankee Leong’s his identity card and arrange for outriders for his cortege and he was not to disclose it to anyone. The saddened Ho Chiew visited  Yankee Leong every day after his work till he passed away – exactly three days later on 17 June 1986. As soon as Yankee Leong passed away, filled with boundless love and admiration this saintly soul, Ho Chiew stepped in and swung into action, with the concurrence of the family of Yankee Leong.


At the funeral of Yankee Leong. Mrs. Shirin Fozdar at left,  with Dr. John Fozdar at the back. Leong Ho Chiew at right, taking full charge of the funeral arrangements

He assisted the family in the funeral arrangements. He photocopied the identity card of Yankee Leong and made suitable arrangements for police outriders for the day of his funeral and to control traffic for the procession, knowing fully well that there would be a large turnout of friends for the funeral and the procession. There was already a Police Corporal in charge in the Canning Road where Yankee Leong lived, to look into the traffic control and security all the way through to the cemetery in Tambun Road. But Ho Chiew as a high-ranking Assistant Superintendent of Police took control of regulating the traffic in full police uniform, both on official duty and as a dutiful believer. His own role added to the majesty with which Yankee  Leong was sent off to the burial ground in Tambun Road. While James Liew ably chaired the funeral service, Ho Chiew looked into the logistics, security during the procession and crowd-control with the assistance of a megaphone. He went into the details of briefing the pallbearers on how the coffin has to be carried on to the hearse, without losing the balance, and in great dignity.  The sight of the funeral cortege, led by police outriders and over 500 mourners of various races following the hearse, was truly suited to such a solemn and yet glorious occasion. Onlookers were wondering who was this great Chinese man, for whom hundreds of people with mixed races from various parts of Malaysia and abroad turned up and walked in the procession. That was a rare sight unprecedented.  It seems that Bahá’u’lláh desired to give one of His favoured servant Yankee Leong a kingly send-off on account of his great services he rendered to the Cause in Malaysia and abroad. At the burial site, it was Ho Chiew who said the congregational prayer for the departed.  When the remains of Yankee Leong were finally buried and  Ho Chiew had discharged all duties   and responsibilities in full, he gave his final salute, and retreated in utter respect and love.  Ho Chiew was about the last to return after ensuring everything was complete and in order. With such a meticulous role that Ho Chiew played, the passing of Yankee Leong shall always be associated with Ho Chiew.


Leong Ho Chiew reciting the congregational prayer for the departed, with Raymond Peter and Francis Ng (in black attire) to his right, and James Liew (in dark glasses) to his left


The Final Salute

On 19 June, Yankee Leong, the Universal House of Justice sent this moving message of condolence:

EXPRESS HEARTFELT SYMPATHY WITH BELOVED FRIENDS MALAYSIA PASSING YANKEE LEONG WHO WILL EVER BE REMEMBERED AS FIRST ENLIGHTENED SOUL TO ACCEPT FAITH WITHIN COUNTRY.  AS DEDICATED SERVANT BLESSED BEAUTY HE PROMOTED LIFE GIVING MESSAGE BAHA’U’LLAH, ESTABLISHED HIS SHELTERING INSTITUTIONS, INSPIRED HIS LOVING FOLLOWERS AND SET EXAMPLE FOR THE FRIENDS BELONGING TO THE GREAT CHINESE RACE BY RAISING FOUNDATION DIVINE CIVILIZATION ON EARTH. HIS UNTIRING MANIFOLD SERVICES IN SOUTH EAST ASIA UNFORGETTABLE. ADVISE HOLD BEFITTING MEMORIAL GATHERINGS IN MALAYSIA AND SINGAPORE. ASSURE DISTINGUISHED RELATIVES, FRIENDS LOVING PRAYERS PROGRESS SOUL ABHA KINGDOM.

Another equally significant role that Ho Chiew played was the distributon of the Peace Statement to those eminently placed in society. In 1986, the Universal House of Justice had issued the statement on the Promise of World Peace to be delivered to those in top brackets in society. With the loving guidance of the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia, the believers holding high positions to create inroads into the top echelons for the distribution of the Peace Statement. In the town of Ipoh, it was Ho Chiew who was the natural choice to join in this noble task, in his capacity as Assistant Superintendent of Police. With his assistance, the Peace Statement was given in great dignity to several of those in authority.


Leong Ho Chiew presenting the Peace Statement to the State Secretary of Perak, with K. Krishnan and Mrs. Theresa Chee at the back


The Leongs at a community gathering in Ipoh

From Ipoh, Ho Chiew was posted to Georgetown, Penang island in 1989 as full Superintendent of Police of Penang and as head of Special Branch in Penang. In Penang took up residence in Tanjung Bungah. It was that he and his wife were able to speak about the Faith to Miss Yap Siok Hoon who was renting a house opposite his who sometime later, accepted the Faith followed by Mr. Chua Hun Kee whom she married. The couple has become the pillars of the Faith in Penang since.

Next, Ho Chiew focused his energy and attention on another important group of believers — those in the fishing villages. When he visited the Kuala Sungei Pinang fishing village for Bahá’í meetings, he would sweep the floor. The surprised villagers tried to stop such a high-ranking officer from doing what they considered was work meant for the manual workers. In his usual frankness, he replied, “Shut up! When I am in uniform I may be an officer. Now, I am off duty and we are all one family member serving Bahá’u’lláh.” It was through such gestures that Ho Chiew was able to win over many simple souls to be confirmed into the Faith.

Ho Chiew retired in 1991 in Penang and the family returned to Petaling Jaya. By this time his two daughters Faith Leong and Shermane Leong had already been well trained to join their parents in organizing activities. Petaling Jaya community too had grown big and was able to have its own Bahá’í Center. Yet the house of Ho Chiew continued to be another meeting point. Together with their two daughters, Ho Chiew and Gina hosted all the Bahá’ís and the wider community who dropped in at any time, and they all made everyone feel comfortable in a very loving manner. During the fasting period, youths were invited to the breaking of the sat at their home, reminiscent of his own father Leong Tat Chee who carried out the same service to the Malacca town community.

Ho Chiew continued to serve the Cause in many ways both within Malaysia and overseas. In 1993, he undertook one trip to Cambodia for a month and in the following year, he organized a group trip to the country for a month. The second trip in 1994 was undertaken with his sister Lily Chinniah and her future daughter-in-law Bernice. He had also organized a group trip to Hong Kong and one to the refugee camp in Thailand, apart from several teaching trips to Hat Yai.

 


A gathering to celebrate the birthday of Leong Ho Chiew in 1994, and to rekindle the nostalgic spirit.  L-R: Lum  Weng Hup, N.S. S. Silan William Chin, Errol Seow, Shirley Wong, Lily Chinniah, Leong Ho Chiew, S. Ravichandran, Lum Weng Chew, Gina, and T. K. Lee

In early 1997, Ho Chiew was suffering from stomach pain and visited many doctors who could not diagnose the cause. Finally, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Just like his father, he too took the illness as the will of God. He suffered unbearable pain but resigned himself to the will of God. What surprised many Bahá’ís who visited him was the courage and dominant spirit with which he fought against cancer. Knowing that his fate on this earthly life has been sealed, he quickly prepared a will. His younger brother Leong Ho San was pioneering with his wife in Papua New Guinea and yet found a way of visiting him one month before his passing and found him very frail, yet in good spirits and resigned himself to the will of God. His sisters residing in Malaysia- Nelly Leong Wai Yeng, Annie Leong Wai Heong,  Mary Dharmalingam, Lily Chinniah, and his youngest brother Leong Ho Min visited him often, bringing along their children.

Towards the last few days when his condition worsened, many Bahá’ís visited him daily in the evenings who prayed for his recovery. His close friend  T. K. Lee was among those. Ho Chiew would be in his sarong and would appear relaxed, though was weakening by the day. He would do most of the talking, while the friends would be listeners. In the last week of his earthly life, knowing that his call to the realms above was imminent, he told the Bahá’ís not to pray for his recovery anymore but for his early departure. He told them his healing was already out of question! Even in the most painful moment, he passed a statement in jest that he would have gone earlier had it not been the prayers of the believers.

Two days before his passing, he called his wife whom he loved very much, and informed her that he dreamt of his parents bringing him his passport for an unknown journey. Gina caught the signal and alerted the Local Spiritual Assembly of Petaling Jaya. All the members immediately communicated with each other and rushed to see him. When they entered his room Ho Chiew who was on his bed tried to force himself to stand as a mark of respect to them who were representing a divinely ordained institution. Moved by the respect he had for the institution the members insisted that he remained on the bed.  They said a round of prayers for him after which, Ho Chiew held the hand of his wife and said I am singing this song for you and sang the famous “Dondang Sayang” – love ballad influenced by traditional Portuguese folk music that was popular in Malacca in those days where both Ho Chiew and Gina came from. Other Local Assembly members who knew the song joined him in singing the song, with tears welling in their eyes. He then requested them in what was his final wish, not to buy wreaths or flowers or have a grand funeral for him. All he had wanted was a simple send-off with a simple burial ceremony.

His two daughters Faith Leong and Shemane sat at the feet of their father one day before his passing, knowing fully well that the end of his earthly life was imminent. Faith told him, “Pa, you must always continue to guide us, no matter what.” When she said this, Ho Chiew knew that his children were ready for him to depart from this world and had accepted the fact that he was going to leave them soon for the realms above. Ho Chiew smiled and acknowledged that he would assist the family. It is clear the family was well aware of this statement from Abdul Baha, “As to the question that the holy and spiritual souls influence, help and guide the creatures after they have cast off this elemental mould–this is an established truth of the  Bahá’ís.”


A happy family during happier times. L-R: Gina, Shemane, Faith and Leong Ho Chiew

He passed away on Monday, 21 July 1997, his two daughters took the lead in making the arrangements for his sendoff.  The outpouring of love for him from the Bahá’ís was so great that a huge heap of flowers covered his coffin, though Ho Chiew requested not to, he could not stop the outpouring of love from the friends. T. K. Lee chaired the very well-organized funeral service in the later part of the morning with the arrival of a throng of believers and friends. A long and moving letter from his younger brother Leong Ho San from Australia who could not make it to the funeral was read, which brought tears to many. And Ho Chiew was given a befitting sendoff to be buried in the  Xiao En Memorial Park to the south of Kuala Lumpur, close to Nilai town. Thus, the fascinating life of Leong Ho Chiew filled with great heroism came to a triumphal close.

After the passing of Ho Chiew, the greatness of the man was on the lips of many who had known him.  He was one of those who started regular contributions to the Bahá’í Funds in the very early days. At one of the conferences, Ho Chiew was called by the national institution, which was pretty aware of his regular contributions to say a few words about his contributing habits. He came up to the stage and said as follows, “When I get my salary the first thing I do is contribute to the Fund, whatever my financial commitment is. This is the most important. The rest is secondary.” He always organized his financial matters very well. All his salary would go to the family and the Bahá’í Funds. As for his rainy days, he saved from his mileage claims.

During his period in the police force, he was seen as a very honest, upright, and a hardworking police officer. There was no single disciplinary case against him. In all the places he worked there were attempts by influential people to bribe him, but Ho Chiew absolutely refused them. When he went to the markets, the shopkeepers would not want to take money from him, but Ho Chiew would put the money into their hands or pockets. It did not take long before they came to realize that Ho Chiew’s refusal to accept bribes stemmed from his belief in the Bahá’í teachings, an act that became a teacher of the Faith.


A clean, efficient, and trustworthy Police Officer who made the Police Force proud, and added luster to the community of the Greatest Name

He was also a man of the masses, especially the downtrodden. Ho Chiew organized himself in providing social services for the illiterate. He would fill up forms and documents for the illiterate or type out petition letters to those in authority on several matters and follow up on them. Wherever Ho Chiew stayed he was deeply involved in Bahá’í activities and gave all the encouragement and protection wherever needed. With his high position in the Police Force, he was able to cultivate an excellent external relationship, thus bringing the Cause to those in the higher echelons in society. He retired as one of the highest-ranking and clean Bahá’í in the Police Force, adding further luster to the Faith. But he went on optional retirment one year before his compulsory retirement, when indications were there that he was lined up for even a higher post of Deputy Superintendent of Police. But at the death bed he had remarked that he felt happy to had retired one year earlier to give one more your of his service for the Cause.

Wherever Ho Chiew resided his priority was serving the Cause,  a culture imbued from his father, Leong Tat Chee. Outwardly Ho Chiew was known as a no-nonsense and a straightforward person, with piercing eyes that could easily keep people away. But deep inside he was one of the warmest persons one could find. Several people thought him to be unfriendly and reserved. His wife Gina says Ho Chiew could be hot-tempered at times and yet, surprisingly he could also be very patient as well. His father Leong Tat Chee whom he respected and loved had a strong influence in toning him down. Leong Tat Chee had the habit of writing letters to friends across the country, giving guidance from the writings, and adding his own advice. In the early days of Ho Chiew staying in Petaling Jaya, Leong Tat Chee wrote a letter to Ho Chiew, stressing on the importance of suppressing anger. Having read that letter, Ho Chiew tone down very much. Yet his impatience surfaced when believers delayed in executing Bahá’í assignments.

As the eldest son in the family, in true Chinese fashion, he took his responsibilities in safeguarding their welfare very seriously. In the workplace, he was a strict disciplinarian and in the Bahá’í community one who would not tolerate believers going off the tangent. He was vocal and yet obedient to the covenant and the institutions. He was not judgmental, but his intense training as a Special Branch officer within the police force had provided him the gift of intuition in detecting the mischief-makers within the community, and he never hesitated to reprimand them when situations warranted. He knew that left to their ways they would become a perfect recipe for wholesale disasters in the community. He inflexibly loathed individuals abusing their positions or powers vested in them.  It was Ho Chiew who would be called upon to ensure order and discipline whenever large-scale gatherings were held. At one Summer School in the mid-1960s, he along with his friend Anthony Louis of Malacca were called upon to look after discipline. At lunchtime, the believers lined up and produced their coupons to be allowed into the dining hall, with Ho Chiew and Anthony Louis manning the entrance. One member of the National Spiritual Assembly arrived without his coupon. But Ho Chiew did not allow him into the lunchroom with a simple explanation, “You are on the National Spiritual Assembly which set this rule, and I have been tasked to carry out this duty.” He was certainly a stickler for the rules! The member of the national institution agreed with him and turned to go back to his room to get his coupon when Ho Chiew told him to please go in to get his lunch. While Ho Chiew was firm in ensuring all followed the rules, he was also practical and applied the rules sensibly.

When the large-scale Oceanic Conference of the South China Seas was held in Singapore in January 1971, with the presence of two Hands of the Cause of God- Mr. Enoch Olinga and Mr. Collis Featherstone, the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia appointed Ho Chiew to be in charge of security matters. The community needed such tough taskmasters to ensure discipline and security at important functions, and here was Ho Chiew a ready-made material. Ho Chiew was not an avid reader as he had no time, sleeping very few hours on account of the nature of his job. But he always had the Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh which he read regularly.


At the Unity Feast of the Oceanic Conference, Singapore, 1971. Leong Ho Chiew at left, in the presence of Hand of the Cause Enoch Olinga shaking hands with Inbum Chinniah, with Hand of the Cause Featherstone hidden at the back of Inbum Chinniah, and his wife Madge. In front of Ho Chiew is S. Krishnan

The one quality that was second nature in him was his genuine feelings for the needy and the downtrodden.  He was a pillar of strength to whoever was in difficulty. As he learned of people in distress, he would pay them visits, with hands full of food. And quietly and unknown to others he would slip into their pockets some cash, without counting the amount.  Ho Chiew had risen very high in his career and in society and became a classic case of one who balanced his life well between his services to the Cause, profession, community, and family.

The Bahá’í community would remember him as one who was a courageous defender of the Cause, serving tirelessly till the end of his life and leaving his mark wherever he resided and served.  The community would equally remember his wife Gina who had played a significant role in her own effective ways.  Some 45 years later, some of the members of the old Local Spiritual Assembly of Petaling Jaya and friends organized a  reunion dinner  to call to remembrance the services and contribution of the Leongs, with  Gina as their guest of honor. That was a gathering of joy and sorrow embracing each other as the ever joyful presence of Leong Ho Chiew was sadly missed! Ho Chiew’s legacy lives in the minds of those with whom he had associated, and shall continue to live forever in history!


 A moment of reflection and reminiscence – after 45 years. A gathering with old friends at a retaurant in  Petaling Jaya to honor Gina. Seated L-R: Thanabalan, N. S. S. Silan (from Australia) Gina, Maureen Thanabalan. Standing L-R: T. K. Lee, Theenathayalu, Lum Weng Hoe, Shirly Wong, Vasugi Theenathayalu, Parveneh Lee, Mrs. James Liew, James Liew and Lum Weng Chew (from Canada)


Resting Place of Leong Ho Chiew

 

A. Manisegaran
31 July 2020

Copyright@bahairecollections.com

 

USEFUL LINK: Here is the story of Leong Tat Chee, father of Leong Ho Chiew

REMEMBERING LEONG TAT CHEE

 

44 thoughts on “REMEMBERING LEONG HO CHIEW

  1. I was just transferred from Penang to Kl and found accommodation in Section 8 PJ, when one evening, Ho Chiew and Theenatayalu came in Ho Chiews car looking for me and took me to Ho Chiews House at 8 jalan Padang. The warmth and kindness of Ho Chiew and his wife Gina Leong, had a big impact in my early Bahai Years.Their home 8 jalan padang was a heavenly abode- youths would gather, lots of activities; from the airport, visitors would come to the House and initial welcome and announcements would take place. The famous meeting with Hand of the Cause Dr.Muhajir fresh from his travels, with all the key believers where he indicated the Malaysian Bahai Community’s workload for the 1971 Oceanic Conference, all took place in the small sitting room of Ho Chiews and Ginas residence.

    Such a humble soul who with his dear wife Gina, guided and imbued in all those who he came into contact, the Love for Baha’u’llah, service to the Faith and the high standards required for a servant of Baha’u’llah. He was an example, who combined and bbalanced his professional work with service to Baha’u’llah.

    Thanks you Manisegaran for this beautiful soul stirring story.

    Silan Nadarajah (N.S.S.Silan)
    Sydney,
    Australia

  2. Thank you so much Manisegaran for writing this story, I had no idea that you were planning to do it until very recently when you approached me for some family details. As usual you have, once again, excelled yourself in this ongoing project on the early days of the Baháʼí Faith in Malaysia!

    Reading this lovely account of my brother Ho Chiew is truly heartwarming and touching, as it brings back many memories of growing up in our family of 4 girls and 3 boys in modest circumstances, in sleepy hollow Malacca. The Baháʼí Faith entered our lives in the mid 1950s and we were never quite the same again, it has taken each and everyone of us on a road less traveled, on a thousand mile journey that began with that first humble step. It has been truly one exciting journey which my father really believed was for posterity!

    I saw him briefly about a month before he passed away, and was grateful that I availed myself that opportunity to see him then. He was very frail, a shadow of his former self, but he was in good spirits and resigned himself to the will of God. I was deeply sorry that I missed attending his funeral, but glad we met and bid our final farewell, as we both knew in our hearts that we would not meet again.

    In Port Moresby shortly after his passing, a very dear family friend from Madina Village, New Ireland, Michael Homerang, performed a traditional memorial ceremony for Ho Chiew as a mark of respect and love, a tender and precious gesture which I remember with great fondness even today as I write about it.

    Michael Homerang, the second declared Baháʼí in Papua New Guinea, himself sadly passed away a year later, in July 1998. We adopted his second youngest daughter Seff in the early days of our pioneering life in the country.

    Ho Chiew has made his mark with his unassuming services and steadfast adherence to the Faith he loved for much of his life, we miss him very much and he will not be forgotten, God bless him for all eternity!

    Leong Ho San
    Wollongong
    AUSTRALIA

  3. Dear Mani
    Thank you for taking me, and others down the memory lane. I wonder how you are able to recollect about the olden days, especially individuals. Certainly you are guided.

    Coming to Ho Chiew, I first met him at his spacious government bungalow in Kampar, but did not get to know him much. After my marriage in 1985 I moved into Ipoh town by which time Ho Chiew and Gina were there. We used to gather at homes for social evenings. Contrary to what people though of him as a strict police officer, I saw the real human gem in him. He was not strict, and there was no air of superiority or arrogance in him. I saw only a child in his heart. He used to cook and serve us.

    But he insisted on punctuality. He said if you are not punctual you do not have discipline in you. I admired his qualities. When he left Ipoh for Penang, I missed him very much.

    Now that he has left the world and, reading your story on him, I am missing him more than before. As you rightly said, his was a path less travelled.

    Do continue with your own path that is less traveled Mani- with the gift of penmanship that is surely gifted to you by God

    Sarathamani
    Kuala Lumpur
    Malaysia

  4. Thank you immensely for sharing this beautiful and inspiring history of beloved Leong Ho Chiew.

    Thanks to Baha’u’llah that there were so many blessed and heavenly souls in this Cause.

    Thanks and best regards,
    Saradj Avaregan
    California
    USA

  5. Thank you so much for writing about this precious believer Leong Ho Chiew.

    I am looking forward to reading these wonderful stories of the dear members of our beloved Faith

    Forogh Hajijafar

    AUSTRALIA

  6. Dear Mani,
    I thought I knew Leong Ho Chiew, but after reading your recollection of such an inspiring man, I actually knew nothing about him!

    Thank you for the beautiful historical and memorable article about Uncle Ho Chiew; it sure enriches my knowledge of the community that I’m beginning to learn so much about!

    Warmest,
    June Loh
    Petaling Jaya
    Malaysia

  7. Thank you Manisegaran Amasi for sharing!
    I remember Uncle Leong and Aunty Gina when I was serving in Balik Pulau and in Hong Kong.

    Lily Chinniah, your brother was a very husband man.

    Mooi Yong Ng
    Tempe
    Arizona
    USA

  8. I remember Uncle Ho Chiew and AuntyGina

    They were a very striking couple. God bless his noble soul. He was indeed a larger than life persona who belongs to an exceptional family.

    Chitra Thevar
    Seremban
    Malaysia

  9. Thank you, my dear Mani, for your fantastic write up on my brother. I wonder how you remember all these details about my brother in those early days of his life.

    My brother was extremely handsome. He was a strict disciplined person. Everyone was scared of strict discipline. He could not tolerate anybody now being punctual. All his meetings would start punctually and end at a specified time. He would be punctual himself. Never would Ho Chiew be late. He hated anyone not being punctual. I still miss my brother up to this day.

    I have forgotten many details of my dear brother. Old age has made me forgetful.

    Some old believers of Petaling Jaya who may still remember details of my brother are my sister in law Gina and family friends Thanabalan, James Liew, Theenathayalu, Shirely Wong, NSS Silan, Errol Soew and also T. K. Lee who have been mentioned in your story.

    Mani, this write up on the life of my brother Ho Chiew brought tears to me.

    Lily Chinniah
    Kuala Lumpur

  10. Manisegaran
    Your write up on the life and times of one of the most respected stalwarts of the Faith is most impressive. It so eloquently and excellently portrays Mr. Leong Ho Chiew’s relentless service to Cause of God.

    I know him well and have met him during my teaching work in Kampar where he worked as the Chief of Police. My impression of him- a no nonsense, disciplined, serious person who means business. But deep inside he was a very kind, helpful and loving person. I have tremendous respect for him, just like I had for his great father, the immortal Leong Tat Chee of whom you have penned a book.

    Professor Dr.Anathan Krishnan
    Puchong
    Malaysia

  11. Read the story on Leong Ho Chiew
    He belongs to the purest group of believers who sacrificed their lives for serving humanity and the Cause of God.

    Bayan Shahed
    Australia

  12. Mani,
    The story of Leong Ho Chiew is very touching and highly emotional- at least for me. I am sure the same with others too who were in association with him.

    I never forgot his words at the Subang International Airport in Kuala Lumpur when a group of us were leaving for Africa in August 1972. That was the work of Hand of the Cause of God Dr. Muhajir in harvesting and uprooting six believers- three from the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahais of Malaysia; two from the National Teaching Committee and I the Administrative Assistant at the National Bahai Center, and the only lady. Our task was to assist some African countries in fulfilling the remaining goals of the Nine-Year Plan in the last year of the plan period.

    I arose leaving the beautiful country and my fate in the hands of Bahaullah. Ho Chiew said on that memorable farewell at the airport “Burn your bridges as you go.”

    Four had returned to Malaysia after the mission was over. One went abroad to further his studies and proceeded as a pioneer to Papua New Guinea and Mongolia. And here am I married and rooted in Lesotho, Africa. And ever thinking and thanking Ho Chiew for his good wishes and perhaps prophetic words they were.

    Thank you Mani for writing Ho Chiew’s earthly life, filled with dramatic events, challenges and struggles which he battled on and emerged triumphant. His story is to stay indelibly in the annals of the Faith in Malaysia, and in countries where he had served

    Love and greetings,

    Kamachee Martel
    Lesotho
    Africa

  13. Mani
    What a story. About three years ago, Dr. Sreedharan and I were walking along Chinatown in Kuala Terengganu town and we saw a sickly old lady lying on the deck chair with her daughter beside her. We approached them and introduced ourselves as Bahais. The young lady said she knew about the Bahai Faith through Leong How Chiew. She then welcomed us to say healing prayers for her mother. So we did.

    So Ho Chiew has quietly been teaching the Faith to many. This is one of them.

    Leong Foo Cheong
    Alor Star
    Malaysia

  14. Dear Manisegaran
    One more feather in your crown! I read sentence by sentence or even word by word your story on Leong Ho Chiew. You have given the right information and captured the essence of his life and legacy.

    I remember three out of four of us who started the Jasin community from the end of 1957 are no more. Ho Chiew, Tushar Kanti-Paul and recently Raymond Peter. I am the only one left out. My days are numbered as well. Yet in the evening of my life, Bahaullah has enabled me to reflect on the early days through the books you wrote and the blog you are running. This is the best prescription for a lonely man counting his days.

    Ho Chiew may be strict and that is for a valid reason which one would appreciate once you get to know him. But I can vouch that he is about the kindest man one would find. When I was commuting between Jasin and Malacca towns in 1957 I decided to stay put in Jasin where I worked, as I was too tired travelling. He was the one who cleared the ping-pong table in his police quarters and bought mattress for me and allowed me to stay with him, until my own Public Works Department quarters were ready.

    The wider world was shocked for an Inspector to marry GIna, a simple lady. But here was Leong Tat Chee and his wife who said we have to practice what we preach and gave full consent for the wedding. And see where she is today- held in the highest esteem for she has proven to be the best mother like figure for all who visited their house – she cooking and providing best hospitality for them. I can vouch she is the best wife God could give Ho Chiew.

    I remember the great role Ho Chiew played at the funeral of Yankee Leong where I was present. And am fully aware of the much needed love that he gave the Asli people in Perak. And how he used, but never misused his position to serve the Cause. In each of his actions and activities Ho Chiew had reflected the teachings of this glorious Cause.

    I can go on and on praising endlessly this star servant who has added luster, fragrance, fame and name to the community of the Greatest Name.

    Thank you Manisegaran for making my day!
    You give us stories, and we refresh and gladden ourselves reading them. Keep going – with the blessings of God.

    Anthony Casimir Louis
    Malacca
    Malaysia

  15. Being in law enforcement in such a country is indeed easy and none will fall into the wayside when our moral principles and ethics is beyond sublimity. Leong Ho Chiew is such an example. When one is steeped into the Baha’i Writings, our deeds should be exemplary and a source of encouragement for the world to see. Many in the various communities that he went could see through him a pillar of righteousness and forbearance.

    This is where the role of religion in our daily lives plays a crucial role in shaping future generations. Our children and our grandchildren will mature into responsible adults by looking and listening to our words and actions. So the role we play as parents, grandparents, friends and relatives ought to be above board. It ain’t easy but try we must. When we falter, we stop, reflect and move on correcting ourselves.

    The life of Leong Ho Chiew is clearly something we all aspire to emulate.

    Merican
    SINGAPORE

  16. Thanks Mani for another great recollection of the early stalwarts of the Faith.

    Though I never got to know him, it is so inspiring to read of his contributions to the Faith. You have definitely done a great job and so much of research into this.

    By the way I noticed your writing style is slightly different this time around. May be you write according to the services one has rendered. Each is unique I can see. And Ho Chiew was totally outstanding in a different way.

    Ho Shih Li
    Kuala Lumpur

  17. A very beautiful account of a man whom I personally did not have the opportunity to interact with during the little time that he and I spent in Penang in the late 1980’s.

    Reading through the passages I just realized what an audacious and courageous man he was; serving in high responsible position with the Government and yet zealously contributing to the developmental the Faith wherever his job posting took him. His services as a member of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Petaling Jaya in the early days of the growth of the Faith in that community is commendablke. His warmth, love and hospitality bought several youths then of the Petaling Jaya Community as stalwarts in the fortitude of the Faith today.

    I recall on one occasion in the late 1980’s when he was assigned to speak to the Community about the state of the national fund. After the devotionals and having been introduced by the Chairman, he came up the front, with a bit stern look and uttered ‘Whao, I am seeing more live bodies than dead bodies here after a long time’. Everyone burst out laughing! So he was a man of humour as well.

    On a second occasion, I saw him coordinating the crowd and traffic control during uncle Yankee Leong’s funeral in Ipoh. It was amazing to see the kind of respect he was commanding.

    We pray that uncle Ho Chew will continued to be bountiful showered by the Blessed Beauty in the spiritual realm above.

    Sandran Govindasamy
    Subang Jaya
    Malaysia

  18. Dear Mani,
    Your article on Uncle Ho Chiew was indeed very touching and brings back fondest memories of this precious gem. My wife Shirley Wong was so moved by your immortal story of her Spiritual father and Godpa that up to this day she could not help but talk about it and asked the children to emulate his true examples.

    I had wanted to give my comment in a humorous way but no ! Knowing Ho Chiew been a serious person who entertained no nonsense or even the slightest disrespect for the Faith, I held back my easy-going stunt.

    I clearly remember he would get uneasy and irritated when someone said the Baha’i prayers in a soft inaudible tone or when little children make too much noise during a Baha’i functions, and when believers were not been punctual.

    Here I want to relate an account of an eyewitness of his last day with the Local Spiritual Assembly. He was tough and uncompromising even at the last day. The full Assembly was with him to pray for him. They said their round of prayers and showered tender hugs and kisses to him. Then to our surprise he asked his wife Gina to help him sit up in respect to the Institution saying that he could not feel his lower body already, the end is near, he would soon be no more. But everyone said no, he abided and threw another surprise. He wanted to sing for us a ballad he had rehearsed earlier, it was a love song – the Ballad of Dondang Sayang, the Baba-Nyonya Lyric goes like this …..

    Dondang Sayang …
    Dari mana datang nya.
    Lintah dari sawah terus ke padi
    Dondang Sayang …
    Dari mana datang nya.
    Cinta dari mata terus ke hati.

    Despite suffering extreme pain with his lower body gone, his upper body remained strong till the end. He sang it so melodiously and with such clarity that everyone who surrounded his mortal frame that night was moved to shed their tears and refused to go until he himself asked them to leave. But we left reluctantly. The next day he took his flight to the Kingdom on High, leaving all of us in sorrow.

    Lum Weng Hoe
    Subang Jaya

  19. I was deeply moved reading this story of Leong Ho Chiew. I had moved with him while he was in Penang. Yet this story conveys in essence his full story.

    He believed in fewness of words and abundance of deeds. He spoke little and did most for the Cause. He looked for every opportunity to serve the Cause, while in service and after retirement. And I followed suit by travel teaching in Laos and Cambodia, emulating his ways.

    He was a master psychologist as well. I somehow had picked up the negative habit of confessing my inadequacies or shortcomings . In one of my one to one conversation I had with him at his home in Petaling Jaya I was mentioning about my inadequacies in serving the Cause. Suddenly Ho Chiew burst into anger and reprimanded me.His style of reprimand was short and impactful. He sternly commanded me to stop looking at my weaknesses as Bahaullah does not us to belittle ourselves and instead focus on His strength to improve. That was the only time he raised his voice and I realized he loses temper for a good cause. His fierce and short rebuke sandwiched in between such intense and sincere love had a remarkable impact on me. That day a transformation came in my attitude towards myself and self improvement by focusing on Baha’u’llah’s love, His strength and grace. I owe him much for that wake up call !

    He may be gone, but not finished! He is still living in our memory.

    Ronnie Koh
    Kajang
    Malaysia

  20. My wife Maurieen and I read with great interest the story of our close friend Leong Ho Chiew. Everything that needs to be told have been well worded. His life, message and legacy are well captured.

    Ho Chiew was one of those who came to serve and show the way in his own way. I learnt discipline and punctuality from him. From both Ho Chiew and Gina I learnt what it meant to provide a warm hospitality in welcoming friends and serving them. I was a tenant in his house, with Yin Hong Shuen as my room mate. His house was a hive of activities and living in house was a natural teaching, deepening and consolidation process for me.

    Such are the great souls that have left their marks to be admired and emulated. We need such souls in abundance to enrich the quality of our community and to be shining examples to the world.

    Thanabalan
    Petaling Jaya

  21. Thanks Mani for the story on Leong Ho Chiew. I was one of the tenants in the early 1970s at his Jalan Padang house. Those were my early years as a Baha’i and I am immensely grateful to him for taking me in. Like his father, Leong Tat Chee who had made his own home in Malacca, a Baha’i Centre thereby inviting a hive of Baha’I activities, Ho Chiew too did the same thing. He had entrusted to the LOcal Spiritual Assembly of Petaling Jaya the full and unconditional use of his house as a Baha’i Centre. To me this is a huge personal sacrifice.

    I like his straightforward, no nonsense and no beating around the bush approach in talking to enquirers. Once I had difficulties handling a Bible-thumbing enquirer who had walked into the Baha’i Centre to gain Gospel points. Living at the Baha’i Centre one would encounter quite a number of such people. Ho Chiew probably knew the discussion was getting nowhere and came to my assistance. He probably knew that person’s intention and was forthright with him. With his imposing stature and his eyes focused on him, like a cop interrogating a criminal, he said very clearly that Christ has returned and that Bahaullah is the Prophet for today. That guy was pissed and he walked off saying we were “sincerely wrong” in our faith.

    At a conference in Port Dickson, when I was Treasurer of the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia, I had requested him to give a talk on the Funds. I like the way he gave the talk. It was down to earth and straight forward. To paraphrase, he said contribution to the funds is like buying an insurance policy from God. You are protected in this life and you will be assured eternal benefits in the life after. A policy from an insurance company “may” only benefit your wife and children after you die.

    I am very thankful to Ho Chiew for supporting my application for the Bank job in 1970. I am sure he wrote something good about me for me to have been successful in securing that job.

    Lum Weng Chew
    Toronto
    CANADA
    CANADA

  22. Thank you so much Manisegaran.
    Leong Ho Chiew, as I read was indeed a very beautiful example for ALL of us! If we followed his example, we would not be suffering what we are today! People like him have left examples for us to emulate.

    Sharyn Mcintyre
    California
    USA

  23. Dear Mani,
    Thank you very much for bringing such glorious life-changing stories of the early believers.

    I was very happy to read and was trying to repeat and repeat the sentences which were so touching to my heart. Though I have never met him before but felt so close to him reading the story. I am very happy to learn about his dedicated services. He had built and kept excellent external relationships with his job, and balanced his life between the family and the Faith. His life has been exemplary, many were guided to the faith, well trained and well-defended. And another fact which touched my heart was, he was able to bring up his family in an excellent way and to keep active and to serve the Faith.

    Again thank you, Mani, for your endeavoring efforts and always happy to read your stories.

    Warm regards,
    Narendra Pande
    Dhumbarah
    Kathmandu
    Nepal

  24. Dear Mani,

    I am very happy to read this article about Leong Ho Chiew.

    We were very happy when Ho Chiew was transferred to Ipoh. He and Gina assisted our community greatly and we were sad when they left for Penang.

    Our family will never forget how he assisted us at my father’s funeral.

    Ho Chiew was really a very sincere and dedicated servant of Baha u llah.

    Theresa Chee,
    Ipoh.

  25. It was truly enlightening and uplifting to read the story of Mr Ho Chew.

    When I read this story, I could not help but tie up his story with that of his illustrious father Leong Tat Chee. He was indeed a great father who had guided his beautiful son to later become a legendary soul in Malaysian Baha’i history. I was still a new Bahá’í when my brother Elango told me about one Mr Leong Ho Chew, a police officer. Later Ho Chiew came to attend a Feast meeting at our home in Penang. I must admit that Leong Ho Chiew had that magnetic personality, stylish and yet down to earth. He smiled and said few words at that Feast. But he had long remained in my memory, with that impact he had created in me.

    But it is only after reading this elaborating story that I realized that his servitude and humility in the Faith was the reason for his dignified personality and his greatness. After that I had met him and his wife a few times at national gatherings. I love the way his wife and he served the Asli friends. The best part of his life is that he never blew his own trumpet anywhere to anyone. Such is the kind of servants the Cause needs.

    Thank you Mr. Manisegaran for bringing out another episode in the history of the Faith in Malaysia.

    Nehru Arunasalam
    Chicago
    USA

  26. Reading the life of Leong Ho Chiew, I could clearly see that he was one among the selfless souls that had devoted themselves to the service of mankind by placing the interest of the Faith in the center of their lives. 

    Such souls are created to be so aligned with the Will of God that their own will become secondary.  Therefore it is not surprising to see how Leong Ho Chiew, a high ranking police officer of strict disciplined personality had placed Bahaullah in the center of his life, just as his father Leong Tat Chee himself had done.  The life of Leong Ho Chiew demonstrates the many outstanding qualities that attracted the hearts of people of diverse status, beliefs and backgrounds.  The extent of his humility and love towards people that crossed his path is clearly spoken throughout this story-sweeping the floor in the fishing village, cleaning the toilet and looking after the poor and deprived populations such as the aborigines speak well of a true servant of the Cause.

    Leong Ho Chiew’s restless promotion of the Faith, tireless teaching efforts and defending the Cause of God are the qualities that we have seen in some other heroes of the Faith in Malaysia such a Yankee Leong, Leong Tat Chee, Choo Yeok Boon, Inbum Chinniah and Mohajir Satanam, to mention a few.

    Reading the stories of such great heroes the community of the Greatest Name in Malaysia has produced, I keep praying to be enabled to live the remaining days of my life emulating them. Malaysia has truly produced wonderful souls to be remembered in history.

    Dr. Firaydun Mithaq
    Chiang Mai,
    Thailand

  27. Dear Manisegaran

    Thank you for this article on my uncle Leong Ho Chiew. He was my uncle as well as my godfather, and Aunty Gina was my godmother as when I was a baby. He and Aunty Gina accepted to be my godparents in the Chinese custom. And they were truly generous godparents! I was the envy of my siblings as I always got the biggest “Angpow” (cash rewards) during Chinese New Year celebrations, and when in high school, they gave me monthly pocket money and when I completed my Senior Cambridge Examinations, was given a gold pen.

    He and my mother were very close as they were the eldest of the Leong children. His mother Mrs Leong Tat Chee and my grandmother, lived with us. He and Aunty Gina were regular visitors to our house. On occasions he let me and my siblings play with his revolver- he of course removed the bullets first! He explained the difference between a revolver with 5 chambers and 6 chambers and an automatic pistol. He showed us his handcuffs and said that the best way to immobilize a suspect was to actually handcuff his wrist to his ankle. He explained to us the legal difference between murder and manslaughter.

    I never really realized that he was a high ranking police officer as he was very down to earth and had no airs about him and often walked around the house in shorts and singlet. He was a minimalist before it became a thing and Aunty Gina told me she had to hide things because he would throw them away. He was a no nonsense person and very practical. He always brought fruits and food when visiting people because he said that at least you can eat it. Though at one stage, I was afraid of any food that he brought to our house because he had been told that dog meat and bat meat were foods and able to cure asthma which I suffered from when I was young!

    He exercised regularly and was very trim and fit and would check our biceps and tell us to exercise more. When I was young, one day my mother told me that Ho Chiew had had a dream of Abdu’l-Baha when he was a new Baha’i to form the Local Spiritual Assembly in Jasin, and I remember feeling very surprised when I heard this as it was so inimical to his personality. He never seemed sentimental though I was told that he loved his daughters’ two cats which he of course claimed were a nuisance.

    He told me that communism was like a religion to the communists in the way they dedicated themselves to it and I believe he was telling me that these people were giving themselves to a man-made polity rather than to one of Divine origin.

    Years later, when I stayed with them in Penang, he told me that as a force of habit he needed to sit facing the doors and windows so he could see who was approaching because of the threats to his life in Tapah and Kampar. He loved his sister, my mother, dearly and was very protective of her and was a rock for her after my father Inbum Chinnah passed away. I remember he had much affection for my father too and recall them having discussions together.

    Despite the abnormal pressures of his job, he was always alert to opportunities to teach the Faith and told me how he would keep an eye out for his neighbors to talk to them about the Faith. When he was living in Kampar and Tapah he would tell me stories of the orang Asli (aborigines) staying in his large house when they came out of the jungles. He loved the Asli people and admired them greatly for their discipline. He would tell me about how they would walk for days to get to his house in Tapah and Kampar and would camp in his garden. They were never fussy and would eat whatever food that was given to them. He was supremely touched by their sacrifices for the Baha’i funds as they would with great dignity present to him money they put aside from their meagre income into bamboo containers to give to the Fund.

    Till the end of his life, he had a blowpipe in his house, a gift from his Asli friends. He also admired the Gurkhas -soldiers from Nepal- as they were highly disciplined and he worked with them in communist insurgent operations in the jungle. I remember visiting some Chinese villagers with him and Aunty Gina in Penang and he would talk to them very simply about the Faith. He was very serious about the Faith and always said his prayers very firmly and loudly.

    He applied early retirement though he was actually in line for a promotion to Deputy Superintendent of Police as he wanted to serve the Faith. It certainly was providential because not long after, he fell ill with cancer. I used to visit him in hospital and later at his home. My mum was away in the USA visiting my sister Saffura during that period and he was so sad that she was not there as he wanted to talk to her. He also told me he was so glad he retired one year early so that he had that one extra year to give to the Faith.

    Thank you once again Manisegaran for keeping the memory of this devoted servant of Baha’u’llah alive in our hearts.

    With Baha’i love
    Soheil Chinniah
    Perth
    Australia

  28. Dear Mani
    When I first got to know him, his very first words uttered, “call me Ho Chiew”. Period. I was taken aback. We became best of friends even though there was an age gap. It was very unusual as it was customary to address an older person with a prefix Uncle or Auntie as a mark of respect. But Ho Chiew was of one those rare breeds, I must say. It instead engendered a great respect I have had for him.

    As I reflect on his life base upon stories, I hear of him and my personal encounter, he was one of those “true blue” Bahais who served and remained dedicated since the day he accepted the Faith till the tail end of his life. Ho Chiew took to heart of Bahaullah’s desire of a youth:
    “Blessed is he who in the prime of his youth and the heyday of his life will arise to serve the Cause of the Lord of the beginning and of the end, and adorn his heart with His love. The manifestation of such a grace is greater than the creation of the heavens and of the earth. Blessed are the steadfast and well is it with those who are firm. (Baha’u’llah, Compilation of Compilations, Volume 2, p. 415)”

    I dare say Ho Chiew endeavored to live up to his Lord’s exhortation. It could also be that the spirit of the World Crusade was ever present in his warm and loving heart.

    His home was not a mere centre for Bahai activities but a community was built round it. Many a youth was drawn to his home. To cite an instant – A youth who strolled into his home and a fireside ensued. When he accepted the Faith, I asked him what made him to do so. He told me the unity he felt was just amazing. Several Bahai were there then involved in an activity. He was drawn to the spirit of fellowship and unity.

    A pattern of Bahai life was beginning to emerge. Gina (Mrs Leong) was a mother to all those youth – constantly and lovingly nurturing them. It was a natural thing for a youth upon becoming a Bahai started to teaching the Faith. I believe that was how Ho Chiew and his peers in Malacca were guided to do. Their home was 24/7 with activities and the comings of goings of friends, guest and visitors – hardly any rest days.

    Youth who boarded his home didn’t stay long – they arose and left for the pioneering field – one after another – so much so that word has it “if you think of staying put in this community”, don’t board at Ho Chiew’s home. You won’t be here for long. Soon the National Spiritual Assembly will send you packing to a foreign land”. It was regarded a “greenhouse” in producing pioneers, travel teachers and several serving in national institution, continental and international committees.

    Ho Chiew did what his father Leong Tat Chee did. He followed his way in teaching and nurturing in particular, new young believers. His home is a haven for all. It was no surprise that Ho Chiew after he retired from the Police force decided to travel teach in Hong Kong to fulfill the ardent desire of his late father and continue his work. His father’s dream was to bring the Faith to China. Malaysians were not permitted to visit China in those days as it was a communist state. His late father frequented Lok Ma Chau, a town in the Hong Kong territory closest to the border of China. One could plainly see the Chinese nationals going about their daily work. Mr. Leong would then turn and supplicate to Bahaullah beseeching for the day China be open to the Malaysians to spread the Faith. Ho Chiew and I went to Lok Ma Chau and prayed to hasten the day. During that teaching trip he spoke so much of his late father. I saw in Ho Chiew, the first born, qualities of his late father. (To know more of Mr. Leong Tat Chee refer to the book Mystic Connection by Mrs Shantha Sundram).

    Even the final days of his earthly life, beaming with joy, he told me he “saw” his dad frequently and welcoming him to his heavenly abode. A passport for a spiritual journey and be together with his father in the teaching field.

    Lee Tiew Kiang
    Subang Jaya
    Malaysia

  29. Dear Mani,
    Thank you for the recollection on Leong Ho Chiew. Being associated with Inbum and Aunty Lily and the family when I was a youth, I had the opportunity to know Ho Chiew and Gina whenever they visited Inbum’s home. He always has time to ask how I am doing, how the teaching in the Asli areas is going on and always says “If there is anything I can do, let me know”. He had an excellent relationship with Inbum and they joked and laughed together very much. I also realized that while he was not a person who is self-centered he was firm as a rock in the Faith. This story has given so much details, some of which are new to me.

    C. Kanagaratnam
    Arizona
    USA

  30. Each time I read the articles written by Manisegeran in the Bahai Recollections blog, it reminds how lucky we are able to be able to read and know with great details of these wonderful soul serving the Cause of Baha’u’llah.

    This time it is about Leong Ho Chiew. HO Chiew is one of the easiest Bahais of whom most of the early friends know quite well. Like his father Leong Tat Chee, Ho Chiew was so sincere in serving the Bahai Faith whole hardheartedly. The kind of details you have given with the capturing photographs have taken me back into the early days.

    Well done again Manisegeran.

    Jenny Wong
    Seremban

  31. Uncle Ho Chiew and Aunty Gina are a loving couple. Many of us who were nurtured by them wished to emulate their examples as a loving, caring, compassionate, hospitable, warm and welcoming towards friends and relatives that entered their blessed home.

    Uncle Ho Chiew looked stern and very disciplined person but his heart was full of tender love for all who crossed his path.
    I recalled one incident when I asked him for guidance to paint a room in the Bahai Centre. Besides offering his advise he eventually contributed towards the cost and hands on helped to paint the whole place. He knew it was a big challenge for me.

    Aunty Gina is always very loving and warm in her heart. Educated in Chinese language, however was able to master English and could communicate fluently. She was also able to memorize some prayers in English. When asked she said it’s through Baha’u’llah’s blessings.

    Shirley Wong
    Subang Jaya
    Malaysia

  32. Dear Manisegaran,
    Thank you for bringing Uncle Ho Chiew to life again. There were such delightful, surprising and powerful details of his world and how he served that we, growing up with him as our uncle, did not know. The stories bear rereading so we can learn what it means to serve through consistency of action. Most people speak of his straightforwardness, his frankness and yes, hot temper. But on the other end of the spectrum, which you brought out so thoughtfully, is his quiet observation of human struggle and suffering and what he could do to alleviate whether with hot meals, a few dollars in one’s pocket or forms to be filled. What I have seen in full colour was his lack if not zero judgment of others based on race, colour or class. Even in his speech, even in jest, how he welcomed all strata of society to his home, Uncle Ho Chiew never bore the burdens of prejudicsm. He probably exercised more warmth, generosity, care, humour and sensitivity to the downtrodden and vulnerable like the Asli and estate believers of the early days whom he chanced upon or those who came by to his home.

    The fierceness he had for justice, accountability, honour and doing what was right was fiercely translated to how he saw himself as a Baha’i and his responsibility to the Cause, as you have detailed. The next thing I must do is sit with Auntie Gina in her living room very soon and have her share personal perspectives of a ‘life well lived’. A lot of his courage, readiness and capacity to take on a heavier load, came from his wife, the quiet grace, comfort, elegance and inner strength she gave to him and the Leong household. The unimaginable intense stress of his position during the communist insurgency and the exhaustive demands of ‘staying the course’ despite the pressure to capitulate to baser expectations are wonderful reflections of and testimony to how he was raised and the woman by his side in their collective adherence to what it means to live, love and serve as Bahai’s.

    And yes, that letter written by Uncle Ho Chiew – probably in his innermost sense of abject desolation – to the young Shirley was a vulnerable side of my uncle, as father and husband, I did not anticipate and see it coming. He is now even more of a giant.

    Thank you, Mani for doing what the rest of us cannot do-find the facts, pull the stories so we remember!

    Saffura Chinniah
    Kuala Lumpur
    Malaysia

  33. The greatness of a community lies in the courage and sacrifices of such individuals and families like the Leongs. Their services are legendary. Ho Chiew was no exception. His courage in proclaiming the Faith, in the teaching work especially for the Aslis when he was stationed in Tapah as the OCPD and with his wife Gina’s help in offering hospitality to the Bahai friends especially the youths will never be forgotten.

    Ho Chiew was somebody I admired as he was a dedicated Police officer with impeccable honesty and free from hypocrisy. I was privileged to have met him and lived in their home in Petaling Jaya with the other youths.

    May the Blessed Beauty shower His love and blessings on Hi and his family members.

    Yin Hong Shuen
    Singapore

  34. Dear Manisegaran,
    Seldom have I read anything that moved me so much. The story of Leong Ho Chew has the power to raise us to noble heights, to full sincerity of heart and to weep for him in remembrance. I had opportunities to see him only when he came to Malacca between 1960 and 1967. He had been serving in all kinds of dangerous places-dangerous because there were remnants of terrorists, and I am reminded of the brave passing of Choo Yeok Boon whose helicopter was shot down and who died a national hero. There are instances that describes the direct intervention of the Abha Kingdom- Uncle Leong Tat Chee coming in Ho Chew’s dream with specific instructions to be ready for Uncle Yankee’s passing, and of his transfer to the East Coast being cancelled so that he could personally arrange the grand send-off ordained by Bahaú’llah.

    Ho Chew was indeed preserved and protected during the post Emergency Period; otherwise how could he have escaped so many attempts of terrorists? I got to speak to him only during his visits to his family in Malacca and I could sense the tremendous pressures on hm and his lack of sleep because of ever-present danger to his life.

    The Leong family is blessed – Their sincerity cannot be described but Ho Chew’ s story in your blog portrays what total sincerity, integrity and uprightness is. It brings the spirit of heroic service right before our eyes, and wipes away the rust from our hearts. Moved to tears.

    Need I say, “Thank You?”
    Dr. Vasudevan Nair
    Pune
    India

  35. Thank you sharing the memories of beloved Leong Ho Chiew which made me shed tears.

    You have brought to life the beautiful services of beloved Leong Ho Chiew. The story is very informative as you have highlighted many important and memorable events. The kind of services he rendered the Cause of Baha’u’llah are truly heart warming. His life and services are exemplary in many ways for us to emulate.

    With best regards
    Guna Perimal
    Australia

  36. Dear Mani,
    I just read your Bahai recollection about late Mr Leong Ho Chiew.

    I met him for the first time when he was working as Officer in Charge of Police District (OCPD) of Kampar District. While he was in Kampar,he organized firesides in his home to which he invited Mrs. Theresa Chee and few others from Ipoh to give him support. I followed Mrs. Chee few times to Kampar. Mr Leong invited few of his Chinese friends. He being a good host took care of the food. At most of the firesides he served fried chicken-wings which is a favorite among Chinese friends . During one fireside I was introduced to late Mr Ramachandran-a Police Constable working under him. Mr Ramachandran accepted the Faith. Later we taught the Faith to Ramachandran’s family and his wife and children who accepted the Faith. Through Ramachandran’s efforts the Local Spiritual Assembly of Kampar was elected.

    The recollection of Mr Leong Ho Chiew is well written. I marvel how you are able to get so many facts from various sources. I think the unseen hand of Bahaullah is guiding you when you write the stories of not only Mr Leong but other heroes of the Faith as well.

    Congratulations and best wishes.
    K. Krishnan
    Ipoh
    Malaysia

  37. I had not associated with Leong Ho Chiew in the early days, but only when he came to Tapah I had to associate with him as I was Secretary of the National Asli Teaching Committee. When a few members of the Asli Teaching Committee arrived at his house he gave a stern look at us, perhaps thinking we were urban communists. We introduced ourselves and through our conversation with him he cooled down. That was the time when he was under stress with threat of his life.

    Leong Ho Chiew would always have a very special place in the history of the Asli believers. During the curfew restrictions his was the only meeting place and sanctuary for the Asli believers. During the restrictions he kept helping
    to in consolidating them, especially the Temiar tribe that came in large numbers.

    Prior to his coming to Tapah, he had no dealing with the Asli believers. But upon arrival in Tapah he had everything to do with the protection and development of those aborigine believers- and it is certainly providential. We are now assessing the great role he has played.

    N. Nagendran
    Kuala Lumpur

  38. Dear brother Manisegaran,

    First of all, I thank you so much for sharing all your stories regularly.

    Your recent write up on Leong Ho Chiew is really wonderful. “Ho Chiew as a high-ranking Police officer in society, he balanced his life well between his services to the Cause of Baha’u’llah, profession, community, and family.” This is a good description in summing up his life

    Ho Chiew is very much disciplined in his duties as a high-ranking Police officer. He is clearly exemplary to his fellow police officers in the department. He was teaching and promoting the Cause of Baha’u’llah through his actions, rather than bossing and pushing his weight around. Ho Chiew is indeed an exemplar to many Baha’is like me.

    I liked this passage in your story:
    “His attention on another important group of believers — those in the fishing villages. When he visited the Kuala Sungei Pinang fishing village for Bahá’í meetings, he would sweep the floor. The surprised villagers tried to stop such a high-ranking officer from doing what they considered was work meant for the manual workers. In his usual frankness, he replied, “Shut up! When I am in uniform I may be an officer. Now, I am off duty and we are all one family member serving Bahá’u’lláh.” It was through such gestures that Ho Chiew was able to win over many simple souls to be confirmed into the Faith.” The statement shows his utter humility, and more than anything else he was a believer first, then a Police Officer.

    I am awaiting your next write-up.

    Jaya Raju Thota
    Greater Visakhapatnam
    Andhra Pradesh
    INDIA

  39. Dear Mani

    The story on my brother Ho Chiew is very well written. I discovered so much great information about him I did not know. We are grateful and appreciate the time and trouble you have taken to record his services. Most of all you are blessed by Bahaullah with your multiple talents.

    I am only too pleased and honored to convey to you my thoughts on your write up on my brother. I am the fifth child in a family of seven children of Mr and Mrs Leong Tat Chee. My Chinese name is Leong Wai Yoon. We grew up in Pengkalan Rama, Malacca and had a happy childhood, played well with the neighborhood kids.

    Our eldest brother Leong Ho Chiew whom we the younger siblings respectfully address as Ah Khaw in Cantonese or big brother. We were taught to obey and listen attentively to his advice by our parents. He was an active and mischievous boy, climbed fruit trees, played games and swum in the Malacca river with his friends. He was unforgettable, handsome, charismatic and with great personality. Also during the Japanese Occupation, Ho Chiew helped our father to grow a vegetable patch. He was the one who hid the milk powder tins and other essentials up the ceiling.

    Ho Chiew studied the Baha’i Writings after hearing the Faith from our father. He trusted his dad and listened to the Teachings. Also my dad was his mentor who organized many devotionals and firesides. My late husband Dr S.Dharmalingam (Dharma) and Ho Chiew became firm friends. Long before I met Dharma, he was his patient and attended police masses together.

    Ho Chiew and his wife Gina whom we affectionately address as Kah Soh or eldest sister-in-law were compatible and complemented one another.

    When Dharma had a heart attack in 1985 in Ipoh town, Ho Chiew and Gina were there with us with and loving caring support. Gina and I knelt outside the Emergency Department and said the Long Healing Prayer loudly. Even the doctors felt a powerful healing Presence surrounding them.

    He organised beautiful befitting funerals for our parents.He is larger than life, will miss him forever. There is a void in our lives and we always cherish happy memories of him. Many a time I find it so surreal that we have lost our Ah Khaw, our head of the Leong Family since the departures of our parents.

    He is now in a better world in the heavenly realms of the Abha Kingdom, with his daughter Faith Leong, parents, brothers and sisters. May all their souls rest in peace.

    Mary Dharmalingam
    Sydney
    Australia

  40. Leong Ho Chiew was a most wonderful, beautiful and remarkable soul. He may have been strict in disciple but very soft in heart especially whenever help was sought by any soul. We all miss him so much. I personally regard him a father figure.

    May Bahaullah always be with him in all the worlds of God.

    Gurubalan Kuppusamy
    Ipoh
    Malaysia

  41. I managed to complete reading about Leong Ho Chiew. A really touching a wonderful account of one recreated by the Hand of God. His humility and service to the Faith will always inspire generations to come. I was especially touched by his interaction with the Asli Baha’is. He was a very charming man, really loving and had a countenance wreathed in smiles. May God bless his soul.

    Rani Datwani Sreedharan
    Kuala Lumpur

  42. Thank you for this well-researched, detailed and beautifully written article on an inspiring and noble soul.

    As a Baha’i living in Singapore, I was very grateful for the insights into the history of the Baha’i community in the South East Asian region.

    Whilst I never met Leong Ho Chiew, I have had the good fortune of meeting his family members including his younger brother Leong Ho San, and can attest that the legacy of service to the Baha’i Faith and to the community lives on.

    Mrs Shadi Eshragi
    Singapore

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