House debates

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Constituency Statements

Ha, Mr Thanh

9:37 am

Photo of Chris HayesChris Hayes (Fowler, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise today to pay tribute and bid farewell to one of my constituents and a prominent member of the Chinese community in Sydney, Mr Thanh Ha. Mr Ha, best known in my local community as the former president and chairman of the Australian Chinese Buddhist Society, passed away on Monday, 10 February 2014, at the age of 92. Mr Ha's hope of a better life drove him, when he was aged 15, to leave China for Vietnam, where he became a successful businessperson. Following the fall of Saigon, he and his family escaped as refugees, first into Malaysia, before finally being settled in Australia with his wife and eight children in 1980. In addition to many accomplishments in the business world, Mr Ha dedicated much of his life to giving back to the community, primarily through his efforts with the Australian Chinese Buddhist Society and the Mingyue Lay Temple at Bonnyrigg.

I have had the honour of witnessing firsthand what Mr Ha has been able to achieve in advancing the interests of the Mingyue Lay Temple in Bonnyrigg, making it one of the largest and most recognised Buddhist temples in Australia. Given that the temple had very humble beginnings as a small fibro house in 1982, it stands today as a testament to the commitment of people like Mr Ha. During the temple construction, Mr Ha travelled back to China to engage artists for the design work for the new arch entrance, the Kuan Yin Fountain and the garden of the temple. I have visited the Mingyue Lay Temple on many occasions and I can certainly testify that these works of art are truly impressive. I also acknowledge Mr Ha's outstanding contribution during his time as chairman of the Australian Chinese Buddhist Society, particularly in mentoring his successors, James Chan and Vincent Kong, who do a remarkable job at the temple. I am very proud to say they are close personal friends of mine.

Through Mr Ha's efforts, much of the Buddhist culture and many of the traditions have been taught and practised—particularly involving young people. The temple not only has supported the various religious observances of the Buddhist society but has been a centre of major charitable fundraising activities for humanitarian causes both locally and overseas. Mr Ha's community service and compassion for others will never be forgotten. He will always be remembered as a hardworking, honourable man. I am very privileged to have been associated with him in the work of the Mingyue Lay Temple.

I offer my sincere condolences to Mr Ha's family, including his eight children, as well as to the wider Chinese community in this very sad time. May he rest in peace.