3 September 1941 – 10 April 2023
This is a humble tribute to one of the star-servants of our time who made Baháʼu’lláh the centre of his life in both his thoughts and deeds. To please the heart of the Blessed Beauty was the motto in his life, which he had demonstrated at every phase of his life. This story captures the salient aspects of his services to the Cause.
Leong Ho San or Ho San as he was popularly known, grew up in the family home at 21, Pengkalan Rama Road, and later moved to 61, St. John’s Hill, both in Malacca town. Among the seven children in the family- four girls and three boys, Ho San was the second youngest. He belonged to a family that was deeply steeped in Taoist traditions and rituals and followed religious customs inculcated by priests in the Chinese temples and participated in numerous festivals. They burned joss sticks and incense papers and offered food at the altars of the gods whom they prayed to. Ancestor worship was an integral part of the life of the family. To Ho San, all these did not make any sense, but he followed them out of obedience to his elders. But all that was to change when the glorious Faith of Baháʼu’lláh wafted over him.
LEONG TAT CHEE – A SPIRITUAL FATHER AS WELL
His father Leong Tat Chee, wanted to know more about the meaning of life and its purpose, not just blindly follow ancestral practices that did not provide clear meaning. Leong Tat Chee subscribed to newsletters and books of the Theosophist Society and the Rosicrucian. He also studied the Bible and the Holy Quran. Young American missionaries from the Methodist, Mormon, and Jehovah Witness Churches would visit their home on Sundays to give Bible lessons. But nothing materialized out of this, and the family continued their Buddhist and Taoist ways of worshipping. In 1954, Leong Tat Chee saw an advertisement in the local newspaper about a Bahá’í fireside. Aroused by curiosity he went to the meeting and heard about the teachings of a new religion, the Bahá’í Faith, from Dr. K. M. Fozdar and his dearly loved wife Shirin. The Fozdars were amongst the very first pioneers to both Singapore and Malaya. In 1953, the Fozdars moved to Malacca when Dr. K.M. Fozdar was offered a job as a medical doctor at a local medical clinic. After some months of soul-searching attempts, he entered into heated discussions and arguments mainly with Dr. Fozdar, who threw a challenge at him to really study the Writings. Armed with several books borrowed from Dr. Fozdar, Leong Tat Chee took leave from his work for 2 weeks or so, secluded himself in his room and began his intense studies. He emerged as a believer in the Baháʼí Faith. Afire with a vehement love for the Faith, Leong Tat Chee wanted his wife and children to know about it. Night and day, seven days a week, the family members were taught the salient teachings mainly at meal times. His house served as a meeting place for the Baháʼís. Leong Tat Chee was direct in his approach, talking about the Faith almost non-stop. Ho San was quite annoyed with this, but he too made up his mind to go through Baháʼí books and ended up reading a few such as ‘Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era’, ‘Renewal of Civilization’ and ‘The Promised Day is Come’. He was intrigued by the teaching on Progressive Revelation and the term ‘Manifestation of God’ referring to Bahá’u’lláh struck a chord and was deeply moved. On 20 October 1957, on the occasion of the Birthday of the Báb, Ho San accepted the Faith and just like his father, he too was on fire with the love for the Faith. That was a turning point in his life, and he set to consecrate his entire life for Baháʼu’lláh. Meanwhile before and after him all his family members accepted the Faith one after the other. The Leong family went on to become devoted servants of the Faith in Malacca, at that time the leading Baháʼí community in Malaya.
MEETING HANDS OF THE CAUSE
Ho San was one of the believers of Malaya who had met many Hands of the Cause of God, starting with Dr. Rahmatu’lláh Muhájir. Ho San attained the presence of the Hand of the Cause of God Dr. Muhájir in December 1957 when the latter came for the first Summer School held in the country. Thereafter, he had the bounty of meeting many other Hands who all had lasting impacts on him. With the untimely passing of the Guardian in November 1957, the appointment of Hands of the Cause ended. But Ho San was blessed with attaining the presence of several Hands both in Malaysia and abroad.
WELL-GROUNDED IN THE CAUSE
Malacca was the first community that organized Sunday Bahá’í Classes for the students at the Malacca High School. Ho San was one of the many Bahá’í youth who were students at the Malacca High School to be deepened by two teachers – Kumara Das and G. Saurajen as well Anthony Louis a Technical Assistant with the Public Works Department who conducted those Sunday Bahá’í Classes. This was the single most important event that deepened the youth of Malacca and they all became great servants of the Cause in later years. The Sunday Bahá’í Classes were foundation-laying classes for them, a privilege not all communities had in the late 1950s.
Ho San attended the Sunday Classes conducted in 1958. Seen here is G. Saurajen conducting a class.
SERVED AS A FAMILY
Ho San’s family members became teachers of the Faith and served the Cause in their own ways. Within the state of Malacca, Ho San was a grassroots worker for the Cause, teaching in the districts of Jasin, Masjid Tanah, and Alor Gajah. When Ho San passed his driver’s license test in 1958, he assisted whenever possible in driving his parents to these areas particularly where the rubber plantation settlements or estates were located, and many accepted the Faith. His other teaching companions were Tushar Kanti-Paul and Raymond Peter with whose assistance he covered several rubber estates. His home became an epicenter for Baháʼí activities in Malacca – ranging from deepening classes to holding Nineteen Day Feasts and observing Holy Days. Of that period of the Ten-Year Crusade (1957 to 1963) Ho San says, “It was a soul-stirring time, very special and remarkable, when the Faith took root in the country and grew almost like wildfire. It was a wonderfully exciting time and for those of us who found the Faith and became among its early believers there was almost a messianic fervour to teach and grow and spread the Bahá’í Teachings everywhere in the country and to learn as much as we could and champion its Cause.”
The Leong family photo taken in 1957. Each served the Faith with distinction.
Gathering of some believers at the Boy Scout’s Hall in Malacca town, 1958. Kumara Das is in the middle with black necktie. Anthony Louis is squatting at the extreme right. Koh Ai Leen is standing at the extreme right. Lily is standing third from right, Raymond Peter stands eighth from right. Leong Ho San is standing fifth from the left. The three squatting from left are Pijush Kanti Paul, Tushar Kanti-Paul and Jami Subramaniam.
Having accepted the Faith in October 1957, Ho San was privileged to be exposed to some never to be repeated events. In September 1958, there was the Intercontinental Conference held in the Victoria Memorial Hall in Singapore. That was the first international conference in the region. He was one of those early batch of 30 believers in Malaya to have participated in the Conference. For Ho San, it was the very first time that he witnessed such a large diverse gathering of Bahá’ís from all over the world and experienced the love and unity and saw the Faith in action. The presence of nine Hands of the Cause of God was the greatest privilege for him as their talks delivered at the Conference created a deep and lasting impact and impression in his soul. It was here that he lined up with the other conference participants and in utter reverence, viewed the photograph of Baháʼu’lláh for the first time. Ho San returned to Malacca with a renewed zeal to serve the Cause with even greater vigor.
Intercontinental Conference held in Singapore and graced by nine Hands of the Cause of God.
A photo of the Leong family, 1961.
THE FIRST BAHÁʼÍ WORLD CONGRESS
The next event that moved him was the First Baháʼí World Congress held in the Royal Albert Hall in London from 28 April to 02 May 1963. The Congress that has a unique and unparalleled place in our history was convened for the celebration of the completion of the Ten-Year Crusade coinciding with the Centenary of the Declaration of Bahá’u’lláh and the election of the First Universal House of Justice. The First Bahá’í World Congress was often referred to as ‘The Most Great Jubilee’. Ho San was among the over 6,500 believers from every corner of the world. It was a heavenly feast for his eyes and the spirit! Ho San said, “One moment I was myself, and the next moment I was part of a huge crowd. I wish you were there to share this wonderful experience of being in a different world.”
First Baháʼí World Congress in London, 1963, attended by some 6,500 believers from across the globe.
Part of the Malayan delegation at the First Baháʼí World Congress- Back Row L-R: Dr. R. J. Wolff, S. Bhaskaran, Leong Ho San, Jeanne Frankel and Appu Raman. First Row L-R: Lily Chinniah, Chiang Kim Lin, E. A. Fernandez, Shantha Sundram and Elinor Wolff.
A DYNAMIC YOUTH
Ho San was one of the earliest youth to have been a member of Youth Committees, starting in Malacca and later in Kuala Lumpur. He was the treasurer of the Youth Committee of Malacca in 1961. In the same year, he came to pursue a science degree at the University Malaya and stayed with his elder brother Leong Ho Chiew who had been transferred from Malacca to Kuala Lumpur in 1960. He became an active member of the Kuala Lumpur Youth Committee. In 1961, Leong Ho Chiew was transferred to Petaling Jaya and Ho San too followed him. Both brothers became a great strength in building the upcoming Petaling Jaya community. In October 1962, the Local Spiritual Assembly of Petaling Jaya was formed with Ho San, aged 21 being elected the Secretary. On 6 October 1963, the youth of Seremban town organised a Regional Youth Conference. Ho San, pursuing a science degree at University Malaya and actively teaching the Asli people made a plea to everyone at the conference to help the Asli believers who were undergoing mistreatment by some ignorant local authorities. In the English group, there was a written test on the Bahá’í Administration. It was no surprise that Ho San already well-grounded in the Faith by avid reading of Baháʼí literature won the first prize.
AN EARLY ASLI TEACHER
Ho San has the distinction of being one of the earliest to enter into the Malayan jungles to teach the aboriginal people from 1962 while residing in Petaling Jaya. In 1962, Dr. Robert J. Wolff, a medical officer from Hawaii, and his wife Elinor Wolff came to Petaling Jaya. Dr. Wolff was a nutrition expert from the World Health Organisation who came to Malaya to study the dietary habits of the aboriginal people and lived in a rented bungalow at 9, Road 5/35, Petaling Jaya. Dr. Wolff went into the Malayan jungles on a two-fold mission- to learn of the dietary habits of the aboriginal people and teach them the Faith. Ho San often joined Dr. Wolff in making many trips to the Asli areas and living with them on occasion. Of his teaching in the aboriginal jungles, Ho San says, “In the early 1960s I had spent many a weekend in Kampong Chang in the state of Perak where the aboriginal people lived. There was a fairly large Bahá’í community then and I really enjoyed the experience of their simple village life, unspoilt in many ways. There were also other small villages that were close by easily reached by road, and they too heard of the Faith and became its early believers. One Mr. Deraoh bin Leman was the most active Asli believer at that time and became the first Asli travel teacher from among the Asli believers. I took him to visit the Bahá’í community of Penang in 1963. He was also the only Asli believer to have attended the First Bahá’í World Congress in London in 1963.”
In 1964, just before the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia was elected, the Regional Spiritual Assembly for South East Asia, the administrative body governing the affairs of several countries in the region, formed the first Aborigine Teaching Committee. Dr. Robert J. Wolff, Ho San, and K. Krishnan (Postman Krishnan) of Seremban served on the committee. And when the first National Convention took place in 1964, Ho San spoke on the topic of “Aborigines of Malaysia” in the presence of the delegates and Amatu’l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum who was the official representative of the Universal House of Justice.
BAHÁʼÍ HOUSE OF WORSHIP IN FRANKFURT
From 1964 to 1968 Ho San was blessed with several events. In 1964, he entered a national radio quiz competition in Kuala Lumpur sponsored by Unilever Malaysia, offering a return trip to London for two and a winner’s prize of M$1000, and to his utter surprise he won. There was no one he could take with him and so it was in June 1964 that he left for Bangkok as the major stopover, spending several days with Mrs. Shirin Fozdar and visiting the friends in that ever-growing city. In early July 1964, Ho San had the good fortune to attend the dedication of the Bahá’í House of Worship in Frankfurt. He was the only Malaysian at the inauguration of the House of Worship, the dedication service which was conducted by Hand of the Cause Amatu’l-Bahá Rúḥíyyih Khánum in the presence of some 300 believers who came from all over the world. He, along with the 300 participants had the special bounty and privilege of viewing the photograph of Bahá’u’lláh which was again was an unforgettable experience, as they all lined up in reverence waiting for their turn. That was the second time Ho San viewed the photograph of Baháʼu’lláh, the first being at the Inter-Continental Conference in Singapore in September 1958.
Following the dedication of the House of Worship, Ho San received an invitation to visit the family home of Hand of the Cause of God Dr. Herman Grossmann located in the lovely village of Neckargemünd in Germany. The Hand of the Cause was unfortunately not well but Ho San managed to meet him when the family gathered together for the commemoration of the Martyrdom of the Báb on 9 July. He had the privilege to exchange words of greeting and shake hands with him. He and his wife were most gracious hosts, sharing stories of the years they spent in South America as pioneers.
His final stopover was London and shortly after arrival, he quickly made his way to the Harlech Summer School in Wales. Ho San ended up staying just over 4 years in England. Over the next 3 to 4 years, he met many friends at summer schools, weekend teaching conferences, and other activities held in different places.
He applied for a job with the Midlands Electricity Board in Wolverhampton in the Midlands and was selected from approximately 150 applicants. He was offered the job which really surprised him. He was with them for a year and a half and then moved on.
Ho San at the left, in the United Kingdom in 1964.
FIRST PILGRIMAGE OF A RARE KIND
Ho San’s first pilgrimage took place in November 1964, while still in the United Kingdom. That was a high point in his life, joining a small group of pilgrims who came from different countries. In those days they had the bounty of staying and having their meals at the Eastern Pilgrim House right in the vicinity of the Shrine of the Báb on Mount Carmel. Included in the program was the added and rare privilege of spending two glorious nights at the Mansion of Bahji in ‘Akká. Ho San writes,
‘I had met Hand of the Cause Mr. A. Q. Faizi in 1958 when he came for the first wedding in Malacca, also first for Malaya. He was among the Hands residing in Haifa, and what a gift it was to renew my acquaintance with him. He was our guide to the Mansion of Bahji. During meal times, he would share his armful of stories, mingled with jokes, laughter, and a great sense of humour. I remember him telling us about the origin of the prayer for spiritual growth:
“From the sweet-scented streams of Thine eternity give me to drink, O my God, and of the fruits of the tree of Thy being enable me to taste, O my Hope!…”.
Baháʼu’lláh had revealed it on his return to Baghdad after spending two years of solitude in the mountains of Sulaymaniyah. It is this prayer that always reminds me of Mr. Faizi at that special time in Bahji! Pilgrims these days are able to visit in large numbers in their hundreds at a time, however, they do not enjoy and share in those personal privileges that were accorded to them back then’.
PILGRIMAGE TO THE HOUSE OF THE BÁB
He applied for a job with GEC Computers and Automation in London and in his third year was sent to Sweden to assist with the installation of a software system for a cement manufacturing factory in Limhamn. In August 1968, while he was returning to Malaysia after his stay in the United Kingdom, he undertook another pilgrimage, but this time to the House of the Báb in Shiraz. He felt it a special privilege to pay homage to the sacred spot where the Bahá’í Faith began, with the historic meeting of Mullá Husayn and the Báb on 23 May 1844, and to trace the steps leading up to the room where His Declaration was announced. Ho San is probably one of the earliest believers of Malaysia to have made a pilgrimage to the House of the Báb in Shiraz.
NEW RESPONSIBILITIES UPON RETURN TO MALAYA
Upon return to Malaysia in 1968, Ho San settled in Petaling Jaya and continued to serve the Cause with the same vigor and spirit which had become ingrained as a second nature in him. He became keenly involved in local activities. In 1968 newsletters were started, and the Bahá’í administration was further improved. Teaching activities were initiated and carried out in neighbouring places like Sungei Way, Serdang, Klang, Damansara, and Petaling areas. Children’s classes became regular and social outings were introduced to cement the hearts of the believers. A Fireside Committee with Errol Seow Hoon Hin, Ho San, and N. S. S. Silan was started, and teaching kits were prepared.
In 1968, the National Spiritual Assembly formed the Finance Committee made up of Mr. Wong Kok Mee, Mr. Errol Seow Hoon Hin, and Ho San to look into the ways and means to strengthen the Fund. This committee played an advisory role to the National Spiritual Assembly on the financial management of the Funds.
The Bahá’í community of Malaysia found the need to organise many international events, especially those associated with the United Nations Organisation in an attempt to proclaim the Faith on a wider scale. Therefore, in 1968 the National Spiritual Assembly formed the International Events Day Committee with Anthony Fernandez, Ho San, and Francis Satkunasingam as members. In the next two years, the desired results were produced when the Bahá’ís began observing United Nations Day.
A NEW MEANING IN LIFE
In his own words, “Life took on a new meaning for me when I met Mariette in December 1968 when she and her sister Joan had travelled from Adelaide, Australia to attend the first South East Asian Regional Bahá’í Youth Conference in Kuala Lumpur.” The sisters had hoped to travel on to India afterward, but fate intervened! Both the Featherstone sisters stayed on, with Joan Featherstone marrying Raymond Peter on 12 April 1969 and Ho San marrying Mariette Featherstone on 27 December 1969. Their marriage was held in Kuala Lumpur with the Local Spiritual Assembly of Petaling Jaya conducting the wedding. That was the first bond between a believer of the Malaysian Chinese lineage to a believer of Australia. History would have it that they lived the happiest lives as one soul in two bodies and contributing genuinely and sincerely to the welfare of each other. Ho San had always referred to Mariette as “My better and sweeter half“. In his own words he “faced a great dilemma”. His wife’s father was Mr. Collis Featherstone who was a Hand of the Cause of God, and now his father-in-law. Ho San wanted to address him correctly without any awkwardness. He consulted Mrs. Featherstone about how he should go about addressing Mr. Featherstone. She told Ho San to call him “Dad” like everyone else in the family.
Ho San and Mariette’s wedding photo, 1969.
The respect Ho San had for Mr. Featherstone was very overwhelming. He was always conscious of the fact that his father-in-law was none other than a Hand of the Cause of God, appointed by the Guardian of the Faith. When Mr. Featherstone passed away in Nepal on 29 September 1990, Ho San found it difficult to come to terms with his untimely passing. At the fiftieth anniversary of the acceptance of the Faith by Yankee Leong held in Ipoh town, Malaysia in December 2003, Ho San was addressing the gathering and he touched on Mr. Featherstone. When he mentioned that name, he sobbed and took some time to compose himself. The gathering of some two thousand believers observed what the Hand of the Cause meant to Ho San.
In December 1971, Ho San and Mariette set sail for Australia and settled in Sydney. It was in October 1972 that Ho San’s illustrious father Leong Tat Chee passed away in Malacca. Leong Ho Chiew sent a cable to Ho San with the news. Mariette and Ho San were deeply saddened that they could not return for the funeral. But they went to the House of Worship in Sydney to offer their prayers.
It was while in Sydney that their first daughter Mei-Ling was born in early 1973. They brought up this precious child in a two-bedroom apartment located close to the Bahá’í House of Worship. They would visit the Bahá’í House of Worship often for the normal Sunday morning service. Mariette joined the Temple choir and sometimes both would be called upon to read from various holy scriptures at the service. Ho San was the Chairman of the National Persian Affairs Committee. This was a time when the Persian believers were beginning to arrive in Australia and they required assistance to assimilate into the Bahá’í community. Mariette and Ho San chose to live in Campsie as that was a goal area at the time and they endeavoured to establish a Local Spiritual Assembly there which was achieved in 1973.
It was at this time that they saw an appeal from Papua New Guinea in the Australian Bahá’í Bulletin for caretakers at their national office and property in Lae. They offered their services and on 8 May 1974 left for that country. When they arrived at Lae airport, to their surprise, they were met and welcomed by Hand of the Cause of God Collis Featherstone and Knight of Bahá’u’lláh Violette Hoehnke. In Papua New Guinea, Ho San and his wife ended up not as caretakers but instead Ho San took up a data processing officer position at the Papua New Guinea University of Technology Lae.
They pioneered in Papua New Guinea for 20 years spanning over a period of 26 years. It was a time when two of their four children were born in Lae. They also adopted Seff Homerang, the year after their arrival, who is from Madina village in New Ireland. Ho San and Mariette served on the National Spiritual Assembly of Papua New Guinea and had the privilege of attending, as delegates, the 1978 International Convention in Haifa, to take part in the election of the Universal House of Justice.
Ho San and Mariette with daughters Mei Ling and Su Yin, in Lae.
Sogeri, Papua New Guinea in 1974. Ho San is far right.
Papua New Guinea Independence parade in Lae on 16 September 1975. Ho San stands to the extreme left.
Leong Ho San and Mariette with Hand of the Cause of God Mr. Featherstone and Mrs. Featherstone at the Shrine of the Báb during the International Convention in May 1978.
One of the highlights of his pioneering in Papua New Guinea was a very special the arrival of Hand of the Cause of God Amatu’l-Bahá Rúḥíyyih Khánum, accompanied by Mrs. Violette Nakhjavani in 1984. The believers were simply overjoyed and made every effort to meet her. Rúḥíyyih Khánum went to several village areas around the country and inspired the local friends with her stories of the Guardian and her travels around the world, talking about the fundamental teachings and explaining what it meant to be a believer in this wonderful day, no matter who and what we were.
Amatu’l-Bahá seated with Ramu Sanyasi, another Malaysian pioneer on her visit to Papua New Guinea. Standing at left is Ho San. Third from left is Mrs. Violette Nakhjavani.
Ho San also recalls meeting Amatu’l-Bahá Rúḥíyyih Khánum at the World Centre in the 1990s. He writes, “We saw her again on two other occasions in the 1990s at the Bahá’í World Centre when two of our daughters were serving there. The first was when she graciously invited us to have afternoon tea in her home and gave us a tour of her famous museum of artefacts collected from her travels around the world. The second and final meeting with her, several years later, was getting an invitation to have dinner with her and other guests. She sat me on her right and kept piling my plate with food on that unforgettable night! She was truly an amazing person, and she lives on in our hearts today!”
At the Holy Land in 1992. L-R: Ho San, Violette Nakhjavani, Amatu’l-Bahá and Mariette.
Ho San was appointed an Auxiliary Board member from 1978 until 1981. During that time he had many experiences of visiting the villages in Goroka and Hagen. He was also a member of the Pioneer Committee with Mariette and others, and they assisted in the pioneering needs in Papua New Guinea and overseas.
In 1981, the couple left Lae and returned to Australia settling in Camden, New South Wales, as this was a goal area. They assisted in forming the first Local Assembly there in 1983.
BACK TO PAPUA NEW GUINEA
They returned to Papua New Guinea in 1984 but this time to Port Moresby and spent four years where Ho San worked with the National Housing Commission. In Port Moresby, Ho San was Treasurer of the Local Assembly for more than five years.
Another unforgettable occasion was in 1985 when the book ‘The Promise of World Peace’ was launched worldwide by the Universal House of Justice. Ho San and Mariette had the task of presenting the special edition of this book to the Governor General of Papua New Guinea at an afternoon tea reception.
One of the several visits by Hand of the Cause of God Mr. Featherstone and Mrs. Featherstone to the family of Ho San in Papua New Guinea in the 1980s.
At the end of 1988, they left when Ho San’s contract expired and went back to Camden until 1992 when they returned to Port Moresby again as Ho San obtained a contract with the Department of Works.
The most stirring experience of their time in Papua New Guinea was the Holy Year of 1992 when the Most Holy Book, the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, was released worldwide. When the local friends heard of this they were simply ecstatic that they would have this special book. Some villages built a special home for it – Haus Tambaran, or Spirit House – and on the day when the book was delivered in person, they marked the occasion with a great celebration and feasting to honour its reception. The believers were illiterate, by and large, but that did not deter them from showing their utmost reverence and love for the gift of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas in their lives!
In January 1993 in Madina village, the Bahá’ís held a very auspicious traditional ceremony to mark the Holy Year. One of the chiefs gave a talk about flying foxes that fly in the night and eat off the fruits of trees. After feasting on the fruits, the flying foxes all leave and fly far away. In doing this they scatter the seeds of these fruits to new regions, and in time they sprout into trees and bear new fruit.
TRIP TO CHINA
In mid-1994 Mariette and Ho San, together with Su-Yin, Kim and Fei-Lee went on a teaching project to China, in response to a call by the House of Justice to visit countries in Asia and the Pacific. They travelled to China at the request of the National Spiritual Assembly of Papua New Guinea, as it was a great opportunity to visit the land of Ho San’s ancestors. Mariette had a very interesting dream on the train from Beijing on the way to a small city when her father appeared to her. He assured her that the teaching would be a success and not to worry, everything would fall into place for openly sharing the teachings with the friends. And it all certainly did. At the teachers’ college they visited they were welcomed with open arms and in the classroom they shared the basic teachings on the unity of God, the unity of all the religions of God, and the unity of mankind! The college principal and staff hosted a sumptuous lunch in their honour.
Visit to a University in Shanghai in 1994.
TO SOUTH KOREA
And in October 1999, again in response to the National Spiritual Assembly of Papua New Guinea Ho San made a 2-week visit to South Korea and managed to meet with their National Spiritual Assembly for dinner on the first day of arrival in Seoul. They asked him to attend a weekend conference, to meet with the local friends and share teaching stories and how his family, from a Taoist Confucian background – the main religion of the Koreans – learned about the Bahá’í Faith in the Ten Year Crusade and accepted the teachings of unity in diversity.
Ho San is top left in the group photo of the conference he attended in South Korea.
The couple at the resting place of Mr. Featherstone in Kathmandu, Nepal.
RETURNED TO AUSTRALIA
Ho San and his family returned from Papua New Guinea to Australia in December 2000. They settled in Sydney and later moved south to Wollongong. While in Sydney Ho San was a regular participant at prayers held at the House of Worship on Sundays, after which he used to gather with his friends for some refreshment or meals.
One of those gatherings of friends in a restaurant after prayers in the House of Worship in Sydney. Ho San is at left and N.S.S. Silan on right, with Usha Cheryan next to Silan.
Ho San and Mariette were true lovers of humanity. They considered everyone who crossed their path as their own family members. Their home in Wollongong was a refuge and sanctuary for many friends and visitors alike.
A family gathering at the Bahá’í House of Worship in Sydney in 2011. Ho San’s sister Mary is seated in the centre with a child on her lap. Mary’s husband Dharmalingam is seated fourth from left. Their children and their spouses and children are standing at the back row. Seated at the extreme right is N. S. S. Silan, a close friend of the Leongs.
Ho San and Mariette made several trips to Malaysia throughout their stay in Australia to visit friends, relatives and to participate in Bahá’í activities.
In August 2014 Ho San visited his former house, now a Baháʼí Centre in Malacca. The family donated this property as endowment to the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia in 1967.
Ho San at left, meeting up with old friends in Malacca, August 2014. To the left of Ho San are Kumara Das, S.K. Somu and Jeffery Cheong.
Ho San visits the family of Yin Hong Shuen at the latter’s apartment in Singapore, February 2019.
The couple spent the later part of their time looking after their grandchildren and at the same time opening their home to believers for activities. Theirs was a home that abounded in warm hospitality. Ho San was always conscious that life on this earthly plane was of a fleeting moment. He found every opportunity to serve his Lord in whatever way he could.
The last family photo taken just four days before the passing of Ho San.
Ho San aged gracefully and spent his time reading the Writings and participating in Baháʼí activities within his community. He developed some hearing impairment but kept communicating with friends over WhatsApp and emails. Towards the last few years, he developed some ailments. Though his physical self was weak and frail, he demonstrated a firm fighting spirit and resorted to prayers. He was well prepared to be called by His Creator. Three days before passing he sent a message to a believer who was serving as a volunteer at the Baháʼí House of Worship in India. The message read, “Please pray for a smooth transition to the next world”. Then came the news that his precious soul had taken its flight to the Abhá Kingdom on 10 April 2023 to be with His Lord and in the company of those angelic souls that had ascended before him. He was laid to rest at the Lakeside Memorial Park, Dapto, New South Wales, Australia, following a befitting memorial service.
Lakeside Memorial Park, Dapto where Ho San is laid to rest.
In his passing the community of the Greatest Name has lost one of the best gems created by the wondrous hands of Baháʼu’lláh. We can only say farewell to a true soldier of Bahá’u’lláh, who has left traces that will continue to decorate the pages of history. His warm smile and his friendly face will be missed and fondly remembered. Looking at the life of this star-servant of the Cause one is tempted to mention that in so many ways, the pure-hearted Ho San has touched many hearts through the life that was well lived as a true Baháʼí. It is our ardent hope and prayer that Baháʼu’lláh may reward Ho San his full share of divine blessings for his labours in this world, performed with so much commitment, zeal and sincerity.
Graveside of Leong Ho San
31 May 2023
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