Dedicating his life to Malaysia

(Speech by Allan Goh Chay Foo on behalf of the Class of ’59, High School, Batu Pahat)

Mr. and Mrs. Lim Kit Siang, Classmate Extraordinary,
All Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

A very happy and auspicious new year to you. I am greatly honoured to be chosen to speak on behalf of the classmates of Lim Kit Siang to say a few words on this happy occasion.

The last time I made a speech was when I got married some fifty years ago. Since then, like all good husbands, I have been at the listening end, so I am hopelessly out of practice.

Emerson once said: “our greatest glory is not never failing, but rising up each time we fail.” I think he was referring to Lim Kit Siang.

In his long political career, Lim Kit Siang has fallen many times, often painfully, pursuing his dream of a free and equal Malaysia. Believe me, his efforts are never in vain, because thousands and thousands of like-minded Malaysians are dreaming the same dream right now. And that dream will come true one day!

Lim Kit Siang’s political journey has always been rooted in “otherness”. It was never about self-aggrandizement. It was never about self-enrichment. That path started in a little place called the Batu Pahat High School where Malay, Chinese and Indian classmates rubbed shoulders in equality. Back then, there was never a lesser son under the Malayan sun.

Kit’s political life after school is very much a public document, so there is no need for me to lionize him further tonight. However, let us not forget that when good people fail to stand up and be counted, the bad people will eventually take over. Let us always let him know that he will never walk alone, for we will always be there with him. Let him always know how much we respect and trust him for the man he is.

Lim Kit Siang, Happy Birthday! And many happy returns of the day! May all your dreams come true, and may the best of health be your companion for life.

Kit and I, and those other Fifty-niners sitting over there from the Batu Pahat High School, became classmates in 1949 in the Government English School. We grew up arguing, debating and disagreeing in almost everything with a passion only the very young could possess. But no matter what, we always remain as friends and classmates, even after half a century later.

As an indication of what the Class of 59 was about, three classmates entered politics after school. One Dato Dr Hee Tien became the Deputy Speaker of Parliament. Dato Mustaffa Mohd. became a Cabinet Minister. Lim Kit Siang became the Leader of the Opposition. I have often wondered, what if more of our classmates had ventured into politics then. Maybe Malaysia would not have become such a mess like now. I hope you will forgive an old man’s pipe dream……

Without further ado, I will dedicate this poem (written in consultation with other classmates) to our beloved birthday boy.

Lim Kit Siang
(In Honour Of His 75th Birthday)

When you answer the country’s urgent call
To help build a nation for one and all,
You dedicate your whole life for the quest
Of making Malaysia the very best!
You have never flinched from this steadfastness
In your tireless crusade for righteousness.
Though threatened endlessly with dark prisons,
And bedeviled with crude verbal poisons,
You soldier on for the best Malaysia,
Full of real fairness and sweet ambrosia,
With none standing as a diminished son,
Under Malaysia’s benevolent sun.

You dream of a country in harmony,
Where justice is in great testimony,
Where all folks are equal before the law,
None sacrificed to senseless legal flaw;
Where people pull in the same direction,
Making Malaysia the greatest nation:
Free of the vile, destructive racism,
And those dastardly communalism;
A nation without hints of corruption,
Never fettered by discrimination;
A country of one nation, one people,
With high principles writ on the steeple.

Since you first appeared in public notice,
Working selflessly in people’s service,
You have shown political dignity,
Truthful of values and integrity.
Labouring, never for personal gain,
You fight on despite many failures’ pain.
Yours has remained the most principled name,
With full personal honour as your mane.
Today you celebrate your big birthday.
May God bless you always, fulfill your days
With love from your family and friends dear;
Grant you the best health in the coming years.

Class of ‘59

Now is my pleasure to call upon the Monitor of the Class of 59, Mr Pek Teck Soon, to present to the Birthday Boy a momento of our deep respect and love for Lim Kit Siang, Classmate Extraordinary.

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