Someone from Barisan Nasional once described Kit Siang as a tragic hero, fighting for a lost cause. He was jailed twice under ISA and his own son Lim Guan Eng was also jailed twice and yet he continued to soldier on for the party’s cause for decades without seeing his efforts rewarded. He carried the cross of DAP’s struggle through the good and bad years persistently.
I respect his humility and sense of responsibility. After the heavy electoral defeat suffered by DAP in Penang and throughout Malaysia in 1995, he offered to resign from his post as secretary-general. The party Central Executive Committee (CEC) however rejected it, saying that it was the collective responsibility of all CEC members.
In 1996, ex-party members such as Wee Choo Keong, Fung Ket Wing and Liew Ah Kim were carrying out campaigns to criticise and remove him from the party. Some of these men were his close colleagues from the past. At the same time Guan Eng was also embroiled in a court case to defend himself against sedition charges in relation to the Melaka Chief Minister.
Yet during this trying period he continued to speak in ceramahs and forums throughout the country to highlight to the people on the cause of the economic crisis that was affecting Malaysia. He channelled his energies into constructive work for the party. He also immersed himself in learning new skills such as the internet and information technology. He charted a new course of direction for the party. In 1999, DAP was confronted with a situation where we had to work with PAS to be a viable alternative to BN. He went around the country consulting grassroot leaders for their views on this cooperation.
Then there was also the Support, Sympathy and Solidarity (SSS) campaign for Guan Eng which he went around the country to create awareness of Guan Eng’s unjust imprisonment. He was criticised for being too personally involved in the campaign, arousing accusations of him trying to use the party to save his son. However, he genuinely believed it would help the party to gain public sympathy and publicity from Guan Eng’s case. How much does it hurt for a father to have to endure this pain and humiliation of using his son’s suffering for the party’s good.
He has withstood the test of time. He has gone through many ups and downs in his political career, being backstabbed and betrayed by his closest comrades. Yet today he is still standing tall in politics. He has emerged from being a mere politician to be a statesman, respected by both side of the political divide.
From working under him and observing him, I learnt to be persistent, patient, having endurance and being caring. He is a caring person. When (former DAP sec-gen) Kerk Kim Hock was undergoing surgery, Kit Siang waited with Kerk’s wife for four hours outside the operation theatre. He has a very humane side, which is not often known to outsiders.
His contribution to DAP is immense. Many in the past has quipped that DAP is Lim Kit Siang, Lim Kit Siang is DAP. On the outside it may seem an unfair portrayal of the other party members’ contribution. However, one must recalled how Kit Siang stood with and laboured to reform the party tirelessly through the many difficult times in the preceding decades.
Today DAP is no longer Lim Kit Siang or any particular person. He has being working hard to promote the young and capable leaders in the party. He has also worked patiently to resolve the party’s internal conflicts and factional disputes, building up the party along the way.
On the back of his sacrifice and hard labour, DAP now governs two states together with our Pakatan Rakyat allies, with Guan Eng becoming the Chief Minister of Penang and myself assuming the senior executive councillor post in Selangor. We would not be where we are without him. -The Rocket