Home TA Online Eulogy for Tan Ban Cheng

Eulogy for Tan Ban Cheng

A journalist-turned-lawyer who was ever ready to support Aliran's work

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Mabel, Naomi, Ban Cheng’s children, his sisters and relatives and friends:

I stand before you with a profound sense of sorrow, grief and loss. Ban Cheng was such a wonderful friend, a decent human being, fearless in his views and devoted to justice.

When he left us, he was exactly 74 years, four months old to the day – he was born on 20 January and he departed on 20 May.

It was at 11.53am on Monday, 20 May when Mabel called me from the hospital to break this sad news. She was crying uncontrollably and it came as a great shock to me and my wife, Poh Yuk, that Ban Cheng had passed on.

I kept saying, “I can’t believe it. I’m so sorry.”

I immediately texted her:

My dear Mabel,

We are just shattered! We just can’t believe that he is gone. We had such high hopes that he would recover very soon. Our hopes came crashing down when you informed us of his demise.

He was such a decent person – very caring, very helpful, very compassionate.

I have known him for so long. He was more than a friend to me – he was a brother!

Indeed, he was a brother to me! I could call him any time to seek help and advice, to discuss some troubling news plaguing the country. I had always consulted him whenever I wrote an article for any legal implication arising from the article.

He would go through my article meticulously and he would tweak here and there to enhance the article. He was such a help. As a former journalist, he was very good at it.

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A lawyer friend of mine, Sam Ganapathy, wrote to me when I informed him of Ban Cheng’s passing: “A very fine gentleman, with admirable principles, who was always very helpful and fun to be with.”

Ban Cheng was a fine journalist and had interviewed ministers and political party leaders. His articles were well read and had an impact.

When the Star was suspended for a few months following Operation Lalang in 1987, he decided to do law and went to New Zealand for this purpose.

Being a mature student, he was well respected by his fellow students and his lecturers had a high regard for him, as he had a good grasp of the principles of law.

Ban Cheng had a golden heart and was very generous, making donations for those in need.

While on the board of the St Xavier’s Institution, he helped to raise hundreds of thousands of ringgit for various needs and purposes. He would get in touch with his former classmates, lawyer friends and others to raise these funds successfully. They all responded to him generously and positively.

On Tuesday night, Francis Loh, the long-time honorary secretary and later president of Aliran, mentioned that Ban Cheng was practically Aliran’s lawyer. He was easy to reach and consult and he was always at our service. We remain grateful to him.

When Aliran used to organise dinners regularly in the past to raise funds, Ban Cheng would take a table and pay for it. He would invite his friends to join him at the table for the dinner. He was that generous!

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Many years ago, he used to be very active on the Malaysian Bar’s website, posting his regular comments under the name Steven Tan.

Yeo Yang Poh, a former Bar Council president, flew in from Johor to pay his last respects.

My wife and I met up with Yang Poh on 22 May. According to him, Ban Cheng would spring into action whenever anyone attacked the Bar Council. He would defend the Bar Council vigorously. His response would be immediate and hard-hitting. He used to be featured in the Bar website very prominently and regularly.

It is said, “A tree is known by its fruit; a person by his deeds. A good deed is never lost.” Ban Cheng was a man of good deeds. These will be cherished and remembered by his friends.

My dear Mabel, Kahlil Gibran, the Lebanese philosopher, has explained your sorrow so beautifully: “When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”

The following quotations are very comforting:

“To live in hearts we leave behind
Is not to die.” – Thomas Campbell


“When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.” – Author unknown 

Yet again,

“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.” – From a headstone in Ireland


“At the end of the day,
Memories are all that matter.
Things fade away,
People change…
But memories will live forever.”

It is our prayer that Ban Cheng’s family will continue their journey blessed by the Lord and sustained by Ban Cheng’s memory.

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Ban Cheng also wrote several articles for Aliran, which can be found here.

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
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