Richard Ho Ung Hun

Richard Ho Ung Hun

Richard Ho Ung Hun (January 20, 1927-February 4, 2008) was a Malaysian civil servant. In the course of his career, he served as a barrister, Cabinet minister, chairman of Mayban Finance, and as a director of several publicly listed companies in Malaysia. [ [ Former MCA deputy president Richard Ho dies ] ]


Born in Sitiawan, Perak, Ho began his career as a teacher. He later joined the public service under the colonial British government as a court interpreter. Resigning as an Assistant District Officer in Malacca in his late 30s, Ho left for the United Kingdom where he pursued his law degree, being called as a barrister of the Inner Temple in England at the age of 43. The next year, Ho was called to the High Court of Malaya as an advocate and solicitor.

Two years later, in 1969, in what was considered a feat, Ho stood as a "favourite son of Sitiawan" on the opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP) ticket, wresting the ruling coalition's blue ribbon Sitiawan parliamentary seat from Kam Woon Wah, the secretary-general of the powerful Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), a senior partner of the governing National Front coalition. Ho, who was to successfully retain the Sitiawan seat renamed Lumut where Malaysia's naval is located in 1974 and 1978 for the ruling coalition as he moved up the political ladder from the age of 50 as Deputy Minister of Road Transport (1974), Deputy Finance Minister (1976), Minister in the Prime Minister's Department and Minister of Labor and Manpower, was dropped as the ruling coalition's candidate in an intra-MCA intrigue involving powerful forces who finally removed MCA president Lee San Choon, also a Cabinet Minister.

This was despite Ho, who had married at the age of 55, having steadily moved up the MCA ladder till becoming the deputy president to Lee by then. Lee, believing his ambitious aides that Ho's active traversing the country meant he was eyeing his top job, was used by them who actually eyed Lee's job.

An insider noted that it was Ho's resignation as MCA deputy president that signalled the fight between the academician and incumbent Cabinet Minister Datuk Neo Yee Pan and businessmant Tan Koon Swan factions. Unable to resolve the claims of the contending ambitions, Lee resigned in 1984, sending the MCA into a two-year-long crisis that culminated in the eventual rise of Dr (now Tun Dato Seri) Ling Liong Sik over the ambitious Datuk Neo and architect and incumbent Cabinet Minister Datuk Mak Hon Kam both of whom fell out as the crisis widened.

In 1983, already out of the political arena, Ho was appointed concurrently as the vice-chairman of the Maybank board and chairman of its finance subsidiary. A close friend of many years standing, newspaper editor-turned-New Zealand-trained lawyer Tan Ban Cheng of Penang described Ho as "a man of many parts." Ho, said Penang-based Tan, showed his talents as a linguist, politician, public administrator and banker.

Marriage and children

Ho married Datin Mary Heng when he was 55. The couple had two children, Ignatius and Cecilia.


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