First Sarawakian to conquer Mt Everest gets hero’s welcome in Miri

First Sarawakian to conquer Mt Everest gets hero’s welcome in Miri

MIRI (May 25): Sixty-year-old Wong Su Chung returned home to Miri today with a thunderous hero’s welcome and recognition from the Sarawak government for being the first person to climb Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak.

In achieving this feat on May 19, he beat police inspector Kanang Usin from Bintulu who failed to reach the peak of the mountain in May 2022 due to bad weather.

The humble mountain climber said it took him three years of preparation, a mountain of mental strength and daily prayers to God for sustenance to succeed in scaling the highest peak in the world and making it back alive, although the climb up Mount Everest has an eight per cent fatality rate.

Among those giving him a hero’s welcome yesterday were his grandson Ethan Lee, his children and other loved ones.

Asked on his first feelings after reaching the summit, he said: “I felt very tired but my first thought was one of gratitude; I immediately thanked God Almighty for making it possible. Additionally, I reached the top on my 34th wedding anniversary.”

His wife Lim Shaw Chyi along with his daughters Ester, Rachel and Jessy were on hand to welcome him back with flowers, hugs and appreciation at the airport, and cheers of “Number One in Sarawak” rang out from the waiting crowd as he stepped out of the arrival hall at noon.

Wong said his whole journey was challenging but he had set his mind to overcome every single challenge along the way.

“Every challenge could turn nasty but giving up never crossed my mind as I was determined to succeed reaching the peak.

“Reaching the top is one thing but coming down safely when the body is weary is another big challenge since that is when danger lurks. Nevertheless, I was careful in every move I made throughout the ascent and descent, keeping my family in mind the whole time,” he said.

At the peak, he was also thinking of his family and their unstinting support despite knowing the risks involved and the prayers of those who wanted him to succeed.

It took him 45 days, from Khatmandu, to make this trip to Everest and back.

He nailed the record as the first Sarawakian to reach the peak at 9.37am on the eve of Miri City Day on May 19, which coincides with the day he married Shaw Chyi.

Born in Sarikei, he moved to Miri at a young age. His family and construction business grew, and his unwavering determination to weather challenges culminated in the ultimate physical and mental challenge of conquering Mount Everest.

Last year, he climbed the eighth-highest peak in the world as part of his three-year planning and training for his biggest challenge. It took him 12 days from the base camp to put his name in the Mount Everest record book as the first Sarawakian and Malaysian to accomplish this feat this year.

Two Malaysians died while another two suffered severe frostbites in their attempts last year, but this sombre fact did not deter him.

“I am 60 years old this year and I know not many people my age would want to take on this task, but I see it as a personal challenge that I must try,” he said when interviewed by the press at Miri Airport.

Grateful to see his family and the staff of Homelite, where he is a company director, as they rolled out a lively lion dance, Wong obliged with the many requests for photo ops there.

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Datuk Sebastian Ting, who was also present, praised Wong and said it was an incredible feat.

He also said he would recommend to his minister Dato Sri Abdul Karim Hamzah for Wong to serve as a tourism ambassador for Sarawak.

“Wong is our hero and we are proud that he is the first Sarawakian to conquer Mount Everest, especially at 60 years old,” said Ting while officiating at Sarawak Teachers Union (STU) Miri Division’s annual general meeting and awards presentation ceremony earlier.

-Agency

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