Former leftist politician Wong Soon Fong dies in southern Thailand, aged 80

Former leftist politician and Barisan Sosialis founder Wong Soon Fong died in Thailand on Tuesday, aged 80.
Former leftist politician and Barisan Sosialis founder Wong Soon Fong died in Thailand on Tuesday, aged 80.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Former leftist politician Wong Soon Fong died in southern Thailand on Tuesday, aged 80. Friends and former colleagues who confirmed his death said he died of apparent heart failure.

Mr Wong was one of the 13 People's Action Party legislative assemblymen who broke away to form the opposition Barisan Sosialis in 1961.

A founding member of the PAP, he was elected city councillor for Toa Payoh in 1957 and two years later as legislative assemblyman for the ward after the 1959 general election, which saw the PAP form the government after winning 43 of the 51 seats in the assembly.

Mr Wong was one of the 13 Barisan candidates who successfully won seats in the 1963 general election, where the PAP got 37 of the 51 seats.

But after the election, he fled to Indonesia to escape arrest in Operation Pechah together with fellow Barisan MP Chan Sun Wing. They later joined the Malayan Communist Party and Mr Wong was an armed guerilla along the Thai-Malaysian border until 1989 when he moved to Hat Yai.

In 2007, he published his memoirs in Chinese titled, Memoirs Of A Former Singapore Legislator On The Run. In the book, Mr Wong did not hold back his criticism of PAP founding secretary-general Lee Kuan Yew and his actions against the leftists and his political opponents.

Mr Wong leaves behind a grown-up daughter and her family who are living in Singapore.