PETALING JAYA: Tributes have poured in for the late Chua Jui Meng, Malaysia’s longest-serving health minister, who died earlier today at the age of 80.
Former health deputy director-general Dr Christopher Lee recounted that his first meeting with Chua was to brief the then health minister about the latest HIV drugs at the time, the protease inhibitors.
Lee said Chua was attentive throughout the briefing and went on to help ramp up the government’s budget to treat HIV patients.
“He listened and actually took notes. He raised the HIV treatment budget then to get more patients onto therapy. For that, I am grateful. Rest in peace, sir,” he said in a tweet on X.
Subang MP Wong Chen said he often discussed policies and reforms with Chua in the past, and frequently bumped into the former five-term Bakri MP even after he had quit politics.
“He was a good and honourable man and will be missed. May his soul rest in peace,” the PKR man said in a Facebook post.
MCA president Wee Ka Siong said Chua was a hands-on minister who was actively involved in all cases referred to him.
“In 2002, before I became an MP, my daughter Joan was admitted to Hospital Sultanah Aminah Johor Bahru for an emergency surgery due to duodenal ulcer.
“Chua understood very well the feelings my wife and I had as parents and updated us regularly on my daughter’s condition. My family and I are forever grateful for his kind gesture,” said Wee.
Health minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa offered her condolences to Chua’s family over his passing, paying tribute to him for the nine years that he helmed the health ministry. She also pointed out that he had led PKR’s Johor chapter from 2010 to 2013.
Youth and sports minister Hannah Yeoh also took to Facebook to honour the former MCA vice-president, describing him as “a fine gentleman, devoted to God and his family”.
Meanwhile, MCA deputy president Dr Mah Hang Soon said Chua was a close comrade and had contributed a lot to the Barisan Nasional component party and the nation.
“My condolences to his family in this difficult time,” he said on Facebook.
Segamat MP R Yuneswaran said Chua, who left MCA in 2009 to join PKR, played a pivotal role in getting him into politics. He recalled how he served as Chua’s working secretary in 2012 when he was leading Johor PKR.
“He has contributed so much to the health ministry and national politics. I managed to have lunch with him just a few weeks ago on Oct 28. Rest in peace, Datuk!” he said in a Facebook post.
Chua was the health minister for nine years, from 1995 to 2004 and was known to have vast influence in Johor. He had been in MCA for 35 years before he joined PKR.
He last contested in the 2013 general election, failing by 1,217 votes to unseat Dr S Subramaniam, the then MIC president, in the Segamat parliamentary seat.