Home' The Southern Cross : March 2015 Contents Page 14 March 2015
Southern Cross | feature
Malaysian migrant David Wong
shares his migration story with
REBECCA DIGIROLAMO this
month as part of an ongoing
series commemorating the
100th anniversary of Migrant and
Twenty-seven years ago next month,
Malaysian migrant David Wong and his
wife Grace arrived in Adelaide.
Within six months David quickly
established a prayer group of four migrant
families, some from China, in Rostrevor.
The four families grew to 15, such was the
pull of regular prayer and solidarity among
the new arrivals.
“It’s still running today with regular rosary
and pot-luck dinner,” says Mr Wong.
His deep devotion to prayer has seen him
establish prayer groups across Malaysia
which have expanded and continue today.
There is one in Brunei with 40 people
(established 1984) and one in Kuching
with 30 members (1973), which Mr Wong
visited in December 2013.
“I think prayer is a sign of solidarity and
also you have the advantage of saying
the rosary and social networking through
prayer groups where you can share your
faith and exchange ideas on faith,” he
Mr Wong was born in Subu, a town on the
banks of the Rajang river, in 1947. He was
the son of a Catholic father and Buddhist
mother. He attended a Methodist school
and was baptised under that denomination
when he was 14 years old.
He converted to Catholicism when he was
“I loved the doctrine of the Catholic
Church and the solemnity of the Mass,”
Looking back at his religious influences,
he says: “We all tried to be good, caring,
loving and to provide service as and when
needed without expecting anything in
Mr Wong has been the president of the
Catholic Chinese Community of South
Australia since 1996 and in 2008 was
installed as Lieutenant South Australia of
the Equestrian Order of the Knights of the
Holy Sepulchre. He leads 44 knights and
dames as the SA representatives of the
order which was formed in 1099 and is a
lay institution of the Vatican State charged
with supporting the Latin Patriarchate
of Jerusalem, including financial
contributions to hospitals, parishes,
schools, clergy and religious.
He became a knight in 2003 and Grace
was made a dame commander in
recognition of their ongoing community
support and leadership through their
business and their volunteering role in a
number of not-for-profit groups.
“I have a love of serving the Church,” he
says from the office of his development
company JADS Group, which overlooks
Adelaide’s China Town. “You see, it is all
out of love and devotion to Our Lady and
the Church as a whole.”
Mr Wong, Grace and son Andy are
directors of JADS Group which is
involved in property development and
management, tourism, importing, overseas
investment, and exporting local wines,
olive oil and honey to China and Hong
Before migrating to Australia on business
visas, Mr Wong worked as a civil servant
for the Malaysian Government in Sarawak
and after leaving the civil service in
1981 he went into active business as
a procurement agent supplying timber
and building materials for a construction
company in Bintulu while also working
as an agent for a shipping company and
manager of a travel agency based in
In 1982 he joined a civil engineering firm
from Sarawak, working as an executive
director in a joint venture company
undertaking water treatment works
and housing projects for the Brunei
Government. Grace worked as a school
teacher in Malaysia until 1988 when she
migrated to Australia.
Making a mark on
CHINESE LEADER: Malaysian-born businessman David Wong heads Adelaide’s Chinese Catholic Community.
Below: David Wong as an immigration officer in Malaysia.
St Patrick’s Day Mass
Archbishop Philip Wilson invites the people of the
Archdiocese to celebrate the Feast of St Patrick,
Patron Saint of the Archdiocese of Adelaide,
to a special Mass on Tuesday March 17, 2015 at 12.10pm
in St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral.
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