Edward Lee – when good men do something

by Hannah Yeoh

When good men do something, not only is evil defeated, but righteousness gains authority. The passing of YB Edward Lee, State Assemblyman of Bukit Gasing, Selangor on the 20th of December is the passing of a good man who did more than just something. From an entrepreneur and community leader to a state legislator, Edward has served and impacted his community, state and nation in ways which has indeed brought about meaningful present change but more powerfully, would yield the greatest harvest in years to come.

My husband and I call Edward our friend, even though he was almost twice our age and his children are our peers. Our friendship was forged during the campaign period of the last General Election, when we shared in the same experience of answering the call to be a DAP candidate, despite not having the necessary political experience but simply being guided by the belief in our Christian values that righteousness exalts a nation and it is time for us to do something, to stand up, speak up and act for our nation. Edward came to speak at one of my political rallies in the rain. We both ended up winning against all odds and being elected state assemblypersons along with many of our other colleagues from Pakatan Rakyat. We campaigned to be the stronger opposition in Selangor. We ended up being the new government. Edward took to his new role with gusto and simply relished the challenge.

Back in 2008, I sought much counsel from Edward after winning the state seat of Subang Jaya. I looked to him as a mentor. He was always there to provide guidance. When I protested against the development of utility land in USJ 6 with my residents, Edward was there. When I had to deal with the Subang Ria issue, Edward was there. When I wanted clarification on local government matters, Edward was there for me.

There was a time when we took a road trip up to Penang to campaign for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in the Permatang Pauh by-election. My husband was driving me and two friends in our car while Edward who was being driven by his son Simon, followed behind at a safe distance in their trusted old Nissan Sunny 120Y. Edward loved that car and he was very proud of it. We had arranged modest accommodation at the Taiping Lake Club, where we put up while campaigning in Permatang Pauh. It was so much like a family road trip for us, a road trip to campaign for Anwar. This memory reminds me of the simple, humble man that Edward is and has always been.

Edward’s passion was to serve and serve as the assemblyman he did. When he was first diagnosed with cancer in 2009, I was devastated. He fought the illness without ever slowing down in his responsibilities and duty as an assemblyman. It must be remembered that while he was passionate about his job, he was also a devoted father and loving husband who ensured that while he served the community, he did not falter in his home. Edward could have taken time off and relegated his role as an assemblyman to the periphery while devoting all his time to himself and his loved ones while battling cancer. Many would have done that and there’s absolutely nothing wrong if he had chosen to do that. But he didn’t.  His passion to serve transcended his personal needs.

When my husband and I visited Edward in his home in June/July 2011 as he lay in bed after suffering from a fall, unable to move, he began to discuss with passion the issues that he was working on at that time concerning his constituency and Selangor. As I stood next to the Selangor Menteri Besar, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim at Edward’s wake service, I was choked with tears as I heard how the MB recounted that Edward was actually communicating with him on certain issues affecting his constituency very recently before his passing, unbeknownst to the MB at that time that Edward was ill, living his last days as the state assemblyman.

 Edward and I often spoke on the phone, more often than not complaining about our frustration with certain issues and the difficulties we faced in discharging our duties. I will miss those calls.

When I delivered Shay, Edward rang me and asked “Hey, I forgot to ask you, what would your little one like as a gift? I haven’t bought her anything.” I replied “No need la Ed, she has a lot of things already. If you want, you can buy her something when she turns one”. Edward said “Sure, OK!”. He couldn’t wait that long. I will miss him on Shay’s first birthday.

When my mother-in-law passed away suddenly on 30th November 2011, Edward came to see Ram and I at the funeral parlour. He was so weak after his chemo and yet he insisted on coming – to be there for us. That’s Edward – always there for his friends. As he stared at my mother-in-law resting in that coffin, Edward said “Life, shocking huh? But I am convinced by now that if the Lord wants me home, I will go and if He doesn’t think it’s time, He will sustain us”. On the day my mother-in-law was cremated, Edward wanted to be there too but he could not. I received a missed call from him. That was the last call I received from him.

We often seek for elements of hope and inspiration for our nation, especially during these trying times in the course of rebuilding this nation. And we are inclined every time to look for it in the young. But through Edward, I now know that we have unassuming older heroes among us, who are young at heart but filled with wisdom and truthfulness, unpretentious but driven by the simple cause of pursuing justice and righteousness while serving in their noble calling. I trust that the Lord knows it best when Edward breathed his last while serving as a state assemblyman. I don’t think he would have had it any other way. -The Rocket