“I was approached by Datuk Chong Thien Vun to join but at that time I just got married. I wanted to give my whole attention to my family and my career by securing a strong foundation in my legal practice,” he shares.
A wise move indeed. When he finally decided to take the plunge in 1989 with LDP there were no strings attached. He was fully prepared and was ready to give his all.
Born in Sandakan in 1943, Lau had all the makings of a politician as displayed in his talent in debate. He was in the debate society in his school at St Mary’s Sandakan. Most often he defended his ideas so well that his rivals had little chance of staging a counter attack. In later years the idealistic young man found himself in the same ‘debating’ position yet in a different battlefield, the courts.
Trained in UK, Lau was groomed to become an excellent lawyer. His more than 30 fruitful years in practice bears testimony to the kind of material he is made of.
Then the political world beckoned.
“I was approached one day by Chong Kah Kiat. He came with Hiew Ming Kong. They told me that there was a necessity for a Chinese-based party in the state that time to unite the Chinese community.”
“They also told me that they wanted to have professionals in the team,” he recalls.
This time Lau did not refuse.
Again, his talent in convincing people about a certain subject as he did during his school’s days in the debating society and in the courts came into good use. However, he confesses that it was not without tough challenges.
“It was difficult to convince people at that time when LDP was still a young party. Besides, the ruling party then was very strong. There was a very strong anti-Federal feeling among the people then,” he says.
His faith in what he was doing as a politician and in LDP was heavily tested in 1990 when he, standing as a candidate in Tg Papat, lost in the election.
But the fact that he did not lose his deposit gave him some hope that things would change somehow.
It did in 1995. He wrestled the Sandakan Parliamentary seat and won. It was the first time that seat was given back to the Barisan Nasional from the opposition in 22 years.
But Lau did not rest on his laurels. He quickly went to work and served the people to the best of his ability.
Again, his talent in convincing others came into good use on so many occasions. Among those noted as highly important contributions to Sandakan include his role in securing RM5 million funding for the district municipality through the Federal Ministry of Local Government and Housing; getting the proposed construction of an aero bridge at Sandakan airport approved and persuading Public Works Minister Datuk Seri Samy Vellu to see to the immediate release of much-needed funding for the construction of Sibuga by-pass and Labuk by-pass.
Lau was also instrumental in getting the Northern Ring Road project included in the 8th Malaysia Plan. It is noted that prior to his effort the project had been excluded from the Plan.
Following his meeting with Tan Sri Datuk Chong who was then Sabah Chief Minister – and also through the latter’s assistance – he managed to persuade the Public Works Department director to appeal to the Ministry to get it included.
He also brought the matter personally to the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) for consideration.
Consequently, the project was included and later approved. And Lau also got more than he had bargained for as an additional RM2 million was injected into the project for designing, surveying and soil testing. The road was completed in November last year, thus solving years of horrendous traffic jam in and its surrounding area.
He also helped solved years of frequent power disruptions in Sandakan in which, through his consistent effort, saw the building of two new IPPs in Libaran and Batu Sapi respectively. New generator sets were also brought in to increase power output so as to minimize occurrence of future disruptions.
And he was the ad hoc committee chairman to assist the Sandakan Municipal Council to acquire a piece of land and implement the RM240 million Sandakan Harbour Square. This project, initiated by Tan Sri Chong and Datuk Musa Aman, will change Sandakan completely once completed. It is also expected to be the catalyst that will boost the local economy.
On the national scene, Lau’s contributions could not be ignored as well especially in his role as a delegate to the United Nations representing Malaysia in 1998. He was then sitting in the committee on the law of the sea in which he also gave a speech on the issue of chemical and nuclear waste dumping into the sea. Then there was no law governing this in this part of South East Asia. Lau was a strong voice at the session, objecting and condemning indiscriminate dumping around the region. He took part in debates in the UN calling for amendment of the law.