Tun Dato' Ong Yoke Lin was born on 23 July 1917 in Kuala Lumpur and received his early education at Victoria Institution, Kuala Lumpur and pursued graduate studies at the University of London in 1934. In the same year Tun was appointed as the member of the Selangor State Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council of the Federation.During the first national elections in 1955, Tun won under the Alliance Party ticket and was appointed Minister of Post and Telecommunications and subsequently as the Minister of Transport in 1956.
He was appointed as a special representative for the Alliance party to draft the Federal Constitution of the federation of Malaya. Tun also participated in a delegation to London regarding talks for independence in April 1957.
He was appointed as Minister of Labour and Social Welfare from 1957 to 1959 and also Minister for Health and Social Welfare from November 1959, in which simultaneously from time to time acting in the positions of the Minister of Defence, Trade and Industry and Minister of Agriculture. Tun continued to be a member of the cabinet for every general election in 1959, 1964 and 1969. He was appointed as a cabinet minister without a portfolio in Malaysia on 22 September 1970.
Among the roles played in the Cabinet was proposing a successful bill of the new Labour Union in the Council of Federal law in 1957. The bill aimed to protect the trade union movement from being influenced by communist subversion and contains provisions that prevent funds from the Union from being abused.
In the fight against the communist terrorists in Malaya, Tun was a member of the State Advisory Committee of War and was the head of Village Control Patrol Team in Kuala Lumpur. He also played a major role in the relocation of squatters to protect them from being victimised by the communists. Tun also led the Malaysian delegation to the International Labour Councils in 1957, 1958 to the World Health Organisation Conference in 1960 - 1961 and the Commonwealth Parliament Conference in Canberra in 1959 as well as in London in 1961. In the year 1961 and 1962, Tun led a delegation of the Federal Government of Malaya in negotiations with the representatives of Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak on the idea of the formation of Malaysia. He was one of the representatives who signed the Agreement Establishing Malaysia in London in September 1963.
Tun was appointed as the Ambassador of Malaysia to the United States in June 1962 and at the same time Malaysia's Permanent Representative at the United Nations from 1962-1964 and the High Commissioner to Canada in 1966 as well as the first Malaysian Ambassador to Brazil in 1967. Tun's office abroad ended in November 1972 but he continued to hold the office of the Minister without portfolio until February 1973 when he was appointed as the President of the Senate until 31 December 1980.
Due to his countless contributions to the country, Tun was awarded the Panglima Mangku Negara (which carries the title Tan Sri) in 1959. Subsequently, he was accorded Dato' Paduka Mahkota Selangor (DPMS) in 1970, Darjah Kebesaran Seri Paduka Mahkota Selangor (S.P.M.S.) First Class, and Darjah Kebesaran Seri Paduka Darjah Kinabalu (S.P.D.K.) Year 1973, Darjah Kebesaran Seri Setia Mahkota (S.S.M.) in 1979, which carries the title Tun. In addition, Tun also received honorary awards from foreign governments, including the Federal Republic of Germany, Korea and France. In 1981, Tun was awarded Honorary Doctorate from University of Malaya and the First Class Gold Medal from the State of Sarawak in 1988.
In the midst of his official duties, the late Tun also lead organisations and voluntary welfare organisations like the Red Cross Society, St. John's Ambulance, Council Member of religious association PERKIM and many other associations. Tun married Datin Hajah Dr. Toh Puan Aishah and they were blessed with two sons and a daughter.
Historical Narration Series of Luminaries – The late Tun Dato' Haji Omar Ong Yoke Lin
The Late Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra
10 October 1992
National Archives of Malaysia