Return of old warrior

by Terence Fernandez TUESDAY, APRIL 23, 2013 – 16:54
Malay Mail

Party elder comes out of retirement 23 years later after call from Kit Siang

THE last time he was in active service was in the 1990 elections, where he had campaigned for his party the DAP in Kluang.

After that, party elder Lee Kaw, called it quits to focus on his business and retire to a life of “napping, walks and taking care of my old lady”.

So what motivated the once treasurer-general of the DAP to come out of retirement 23 years later? For one, it was the call from fellow party elder Lim Kit Siang.

Then, it was the candidate. “No matter who calls, if I don’t believe in the candidate they put up … if they don’t like them — I’m not going to waste my time. If the candidate is a useless fellow, why should I support?” said Lee over coffee at the Rail Coffee cafe — the town’s main meeting place run by the Lim family of the famous Kluang Railway Station Canteen.

According to Lee, there have been several bad choices which made him wonder about the judgment of the DAP leadership, conceding that there were times when the party was not really spoilt for choice. “But when Kit told me it was Liew Chin Tong, I said ‘OK’,” he said of his endorsement of the incumbent Bukit Bendera MP.

“This boy is brilliant and he willingly gave up Bukit Bendera — a safe seat — to contest in this unchartered area.

“He was putting his party before himself, he’s smart and he’s down to earth, which is why I said I will use my influence here to back him.”

Lee’s endorsement of Liew — who takes on twoterm MCA MP Datuk Dr Hou Kok Chung — would certainly help earn the newcomer some brownie points.

It is understood that Lee had persuaded the local strongmen and business leaders to endorse Liew and they had conceded, not just due to the drop in MCA’s popularity, but also to give Lee “face”.

Two weekends ago, Lee delivered his first ceramah in 26 years to a crowd of 5,000 people — and again last week to 10,000 people. According to locals like Jack Lim, the third generation Kluang Railway coffee proprietors, the numbers were unprecedented in the town.

“I never felt so alive in so long,” said Lee, who was once the sole opposition representative in the Johor State Legislative Assembly, and one-term MP for Kluang. He quit politics after losing his seat in 1982 and failing to recapture it in 1986.

Like many others who had lost their seats, Lee, now 74, blamed the administration for redelineating the boundaries which saw more pro-Barisan Nasional (BN) voters coming into his area.

He cautions that the DAP still has its work cut out for it in getting the Malay votes, although at 49 per cent, Chinese make up the majority of the 86,914 voters. (Malays 39 per cent; Indians 10 per cent).

“We cannot be overconfident and say we will get all the Chinese votes because of the MCA factor. Even with 70 per cent of the votes, we need the Malay votes.

“We cannot be too Chinese-centric if we want to take the Federal Government,” he said, confident that the solidarity with PAS and PKR will see it becoming more acceptable to the Malays.

And Lee feels the opposition never had a better chance to take Putrajaya. “In 2008, the target was to deny BN its two-thirds majority, and we succeeded.

Now we are going for ubah (change) and if we keep this momentum, I think we have a fighting chance.” “I tell you, never in my wildest dreams did I expect to see BN lose its two-thirds in my lifetime,” he said with tears in his eyes.

  1. #1 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Thursday, 25 April 2013 - 12:55 pm


  2. #2 by kg on Thursday, 25 April 2013 - 1:10 pm

    You may not believe it guys, but I know there is one particular Malaysian warrior out there. He is now on the BumNo BeEnd side (Bijan’s camp?) side, most people, including myself, look at him as a betrayer. But deep in my psyche, I am hoping for him to overcome the black force behind his act of betraying his friends and followers.

    His motherland needs his help to kick out the corrupt regime now, but that force seems too big for this tough RP to overcome.

  3. #3 by boh-liao on Thursday, 25 April 2013 - 1:20 pm

    Way 2 go, Lee Kaw – HENTAM MCA/BN KAW-KAW

  4. #4 by kg on Thursday, 25 April 2013 - 1:25 pm

    This man is Raja Petra K.

You must be logged in to post a comment.