The relaxed demeanor of Wong Chen in person would have surprised many, particularly to those who have watched videos of him raising tough issues in Parliament. Off the bench, the 49-year-old lawmaker from Kelantan is friendly and easygoing.
“Honestly speaking, I do not have many enemies. Even across the aisle, I have plenty of friends from UMNO and PAS,” says Wong Chen. “It is when I ask tangible results from public money spent on projects that I get my feathers ruffled,” he adds with a smile.
Wong Chen began his career in Kota Bharu as a lawyer. After a short stint there, he moved to Kuala Lumpur to continue his practice specialising in corporate law.
In 1997, when the Asian Financial Crisis struck Malaysia and neighboring countries, Wong Chen became more politically aware and critical of the government, then led by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
If we start to be quiet when our own colleagues do not subscribe to the promises that we have pledged to the people, I fear that we might return to the days of the Barisan Nasional
“In the late nineties, I began to ask the motives and actions of the government of the day,” he recalls.
“This inquisitive nature of mine persisted over the years. In 2008, I was among the first lawyers involved in the formation of the Pakatan Rakyat, which is of course, the precursor coalition to today’s government – Pakatan Harapan."
"In my time as Kelana Jaya MP (before it was renamed as Subang Jaya following redelineation in 2018), I have written many documents to showcase what the Pakatan coalition could theoretically do, if they were indeed voted into government. This pushed many MPs and commentators to realise that our intent on standing for public office goes beyond just winning some seats, but to actually win the majority of the seats in the Dewan Rakyat,” he says.
This begs the question on his nature of support for Prime Minister Tun Mahathir. In recent weeks, Wong Chen has called for greater transparency in how Dr. Mahathir ran the government.
“I merely supported my friend, former Pandan MP and PKR Vice President, Rafizi Ramli,” says Wong Chen.
“Rafizi says that the appointment of ministers should have been a consultative process, involving all senior leadership of all the coalition parties within the Pakatan Harapan. Is it wrong to ask why this agreement was not met when the PM did not adhere to it?
"If we start to be quiet when our own colleagues do not subscribe to the promises that we have pledged to the people, I fear that we might return to the days of the Barisan Nasional,” he says.
Watch the full interview below: