“He raised us to have tireless work ethics.” – Lim Guan Choon

“My father was first detained under ISA in 1969. But I was too young then to recall of the ordeal our family had to face. It was tougher on my mother as she also had to take care of the four of us by herself.”

The Lim’s youngest son, Guan Choon, now a cardiologist, was studying overseas at the time of Guan Eng and Kit Siang’s ISA detention in Kamunting in 1987. Thousands of miles away, he was practically shut off from news due to limited access to communication. Forced to rely on newspapers to glean news about his family, Guan Chun anxiously awaited the transatlantic phone calls from his sisters that represented a lifeline of information he both longed for and dreaded – lest it were bad news.

“It was torturous to not know what was happening to my family. But in hindsight, those difficult times brought our family closer together. My family would make the long drive down to Kamunting every weekend just to see my father and brother for half an hour. We really treasured those times together.”

Over the years, Guan Choon says, his father has proven himself to be a man of integrity, a man who stands up for what is right. “He attacks his pursuits with relentless passion, he simply refuses to give up. That, I think, is the hallmark of Lim Kit Siang.”

Guan Choon debunks the media stereotype of Kit Siang as dictatorial, loud-mouthed and power crazy. “In fact, he’s a very quiet person. His words are always measured. Although he didn’t say much about it, I think my brother’s imprisonment in 1998 affected my father the most.”

Describing his relationship with his father as traditional, Guan Chun says that respect for elders and reverence of authority was always emphasized in the family. Nevertheless, Guan Chun recalls spending quality time with his father, who tutored him in Jawi and English, and enjoyed sparring with him in squash.

“Though he was quite busy most of the time, he would always try to be there for us in our time of need. He always knows what was happening to us as my mother would inform him daily about what was going on in our lives. When I had a car accident at 13 years old, he was in East Malaysia then. He cancelled all his appointments and flew back just to be beside me.”

Growing up in a political family, was politics a regular dinner table conversation topic?  “Sometimes my father would discuss about politics during family dinners and gatherings. But he would not share his worries at work with us. Later, as my brother began to enter politics, political talk during family time became more common-place. However, I don’t think I will be dabbling in politics.”

What is Kit Siang like, behind closed doors? “His work ethics is phenomenal. He works very hard and is ever-willing to learn new things. He was one of the first politicians in the country to embrace IT in a big way. Another of his passion is wei qi (go chess). Since picking up the game, he would scout for books from within the country as well as overseas.”

Asked what impact his famous father has had in his life, Guan Chun’s says, “He taught me not to speak more than is needed, and to never wavers on one’s principles. He raised us to have tireless work ethics and to be filial towards our mother. We are proud to share him with all Malaysians!” -The Rocket