LKS Series # 3
Re: Hello Lim Kit Siang. (28 years old). On 13th May 1969, where art thou?
The 1969 May 13th racial riots started from the house of the then Menteri Besar, Dato Harun Idris. The house was in Princes Road ( Jalan Raja Muda). Half a kilometre away, at Fook Chuen Mansions, Batu Road ( Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman ) was the office of the then Secretary General of the Democratic Action Party, Mr Goh Hock Guan.*. He was and still is a Chartered Architect and Town Planner practising under the name of M/s Goh Hock Guan and Associates.
Prior to 13th May 1969, LKS was a political Liliputian. He was the DAP National Organising Secretary and the Editor of The Rocket** then. His first political debut projected to the Malaysian public was his participation in the “ Great Cultural Debate” between the DAP and the Gerakan which took place before the General Elections of 1969. At that point in time Gerakan was in the Opposition. After the 13th May riots, Gerakan joined the Alliance to form the Barisan, until today. The debate was held at the MARA Auditorium which was at Batu Road, Kuala Lumpur.
When the ethnic riots started on 13th May 1969, LKS was in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. A political novice, untried with no credentials to back him up. He was campaigning for the independent candidates there. Fellow members of the DAP in Petaling Jaya called LKS on the phone asking him not to come back to Kuala Lumpur for his own safety until such a time when things cooled down. (Official fiqures:190 plus, Malaysians killed.)
LKS in his maiden political quest for justice, freedom, upholding of democracy and an equal right to happiness, dignity and fulfillment in life, was already under the “protective” custody of the KK police. He replied that he “ is going back to Kuala Lumpur immediately and is not afraid to DIE for his political convictions” — all for a better life for all Malaysians. There was no choice. He had to martyr himself. There was no alternative. However, in case his life was spared, LKS was prepared to face any charges that the Alliance Government will bring up and charge against him.
Flights between East and West Malaysia was suspended. Also at that point in time there was no direct flight between Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu. LKS took the first flight out of KK to Singapore en route to KL on 15th May 1969. He had to stopover in Singapore.
When he was in Singapore, he had many friends and supporters to discuss the racial riots and its consequences on opposition members. Anything can happen. There was no guarantee on his safety. LKS was adamant that it was his sacred duty to go back to KL.
He took the first available flight to Subang International Airport ( now Sultan Abdul Aziz Airport ) on 18th May 1969. He boarded the plane at the Paya Lebar International Airport, Singapore The plane took off for KL.
While airborne, all of a sudden, LKS found that he was now alone. Alone to face the music. He cannot turn back then, unless of course the pilot turned the plane around. Samuel Taylor Coleridge can describe him as:-
“Alone alone, all all alone
Alone on a wide wide sea
And never a saint took pity on his soul in agony” – in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The airborne mariner cannot change his mind then. Can he call for help? Call who? Call the CIA?. Call the FBI? Call the KGB?. Call MI 5?. Call OSS?. Call Chin Peng?. Call Chen Tian?. ( there were no mobile phones then)
Lim Kit Siang believed that he was going to be eliminated. On this last home coming flight, he decided to write a last letter to his wife – a homemaker. He asked his wife to be strong, to expect the EXPECTED and to bring up the four children.***. To LKS, the demise of LKS is NOT important. The Political Future of Malaysians and the Future of Malaysia ARE of Paramount Importance. Malaysia MUST GO ON! The letter was physically handed to the flight stewardess for posting. But it was without a stamp. Until today the letter was not delivered.
The curfew was on. There were lots of soldiers around the Subang Airport then. They were there guarding the airport and to PROBABLY “welcome” home in a formal reception “ceremony” for Mr Lim Kit Siang. All the soldiers’ SLR rifles were on a horizontal level. Their forefingers were just glazing the side of the trigger, in preparation to shoot at any time.
The moment of truth had arrived. The stage was set. The grand finale was about to begin. LKS came into the arrival hall. The atmosphere was unexceptionally quiet. Nobody was talking. The silence was deafening. It was tense and solemn because everybody were expecting the arrival of the Yang Berhormat, the DAP MP for Bandar Malacca (now Kota Melaka). LKS was no fugitive. LKS, a young, non violent, non belligerent man, stepped out of the arrival hall. A group of Special Branch Officers and soldiers with their horizontal SLRs “greeted” him. LKS need not hail a taxi for his transport to KL. There were no taxis anyway. There was also NO shooting.
On his journey to the High Street Police Station, LKS saw for himself the senseless carnage, atrocities, plunder and destruction. Smoke can still be seen from houses which were torched. After a few days of detention in the High Street Police Station, LKS was sent to a Police Station in Kuala Selangor, Selangor.
Prior to 13-05-69, Dato Dr Ismail (later Tun), left the Government. He joined back the Government immediately after 13-05-69. The first words he said was “Democracy is Dead”. As the Minister of Internal Security, Dato Ismail signed the Detention Order on LKS. LKS was then sent to the Muar Detention Camp. He was entitled to free food and lodging for the next 18 months at taxpayers’ expense. Ironically, Muar was 32 miles away from LKS home. His house is in Batu Pahat, Johore
The Internal Security Act is an Act of Parliament formulated to suppress the communist insurgency and to arrest the communists at that period of time. Ironically, the PAP’s ( later DAP) Member of Parliament for Bungsar (now Bangsar) , Mr Devan Nair supported the ISA Bill earlier then.****. It is detention without trial.
While under detention LKS was appointed the 3rd National Secretary General of the DAP (in absentia). There was a vacancy. The appointment was necessary because somebody had disappeared but can be found in another country. He stayed put in that country then. “ I am NO LIM KIT SIANG. If I go back then, all of you will be deprived of a Great Leader”. The vacancy was filled. LKS held the post of National Sec-Gen till 1999.
LKS could have absconded while in Singapore. ( Singapore was given independence by Malaysia in 1965). He could have asked for political asylum in another country. He could have been an MP in exile. He was and is a true loyal Malaysian Citizen. With guts, he went back to the hornet’s nest – “a river of no return”, says Marilyn Monroe. Sorry. My apologies. He was and is still in one piece. He was never charged in open court then. He will still be around for many years to come.
“ Cowards die many times before their deaths, the valiant never taste of death but once”—Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare
Again sorry lah Kit, (as he is fondly known as). We do realise that, the particular effective organ that is part of your anatomy is your gift of the gap – a non lethal instrument. Now we know you are battle hardened. In spite of your tireless, relentless political pursuit, vocal, articulate or otherwise, until today, matters have become from bad to worst. True, “That All Men Are Born Equal” but then some selectives are more equal than others—Abraham Lincoln’s version for 2nd class citizens.
LKS was again detained, the 2nd time in 1987, (after the 1986 General Election) under the Mahathir Administration. He got free curry lunch, lodging, bed and breakfast again for another 18 months, on the auspicious pleasure of the host — the Barisan Government ala taxpayers. Again no charges were brought against him. Can somebody name me a similar Malaysian likewise?
Somebody say LKS only NATO ( No action, talk only). If that is the case, let him talk! We like to hear him talk. Why detain him to stop him from talking? You are hitting below the belt. Do you want him to talk on what you like to hear and then stop him from talking on what you don’t like to hear? But at the same time you go on talking and talking on what we don’t like to hear! (Editor: hahah…that’s a good one! )
Finally, a belated sincere tribute must be made to the powers that be, at that critical, predatory point of time. LKS’s life was spared. The expected was not performed. The expected was unexpected – so to speak! Had LKS, the political apprentice left us to join the happy hunting ground, he will be forgotten. Nobody will raise an eyelid after all:-
“When beggars die, no comets are seen.
The heavens blaze forth the marriage of princes” Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare’s
The powers that be was still rational then. Maybe its was mercy.
“The quality of mercy is not strained
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven”
The Merchant of Venice. William Shakespeare
So to the players of May the 13th, I am wishing a belated words of thanks. To Whom It May Concern. Thank You Very Much for the fact that we still have LKS around. Say what we like. We argue. We are all still Malaysian Citizens. We are born here. Do you want to deprive LKS of his citizenship like Mr Lim Lean Geok ? By the way LKS is local born and can be classified as a Baba and his wife a Nonya. He is more Malaysian than a bigger number of Malaysians put together!
Finally, we reiterate that we are all peace loving citizens. Some say we are citizens “by default”. This is subjective and debatable. Supposing we ARE citizens by default, we are still citizens, maybe 2nd class citizens or otherwise.
To all Malaysian mankind:-
“He loveth best, who loveth best, both man and bird and beast.
He loveth well, who loveth well, for all things both great and small
For the dear God who loveth us, he made and loveth all.”
Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s moral message to humanity especially to Malaysian humans.
The writer notes that after the riots of 13th May 1969, the Deputy Prime Minister, Dato Abdul Razak (later Tun) set up The National Operations Council. Parliament was suspended after all “Democracy is Dead”. Looking after this NOC, was Dato Ghazali Shafie (later Tun). 4
Incidentally, the 3rd man in ranking, in the NOC then, was a slim, serious, handsome, no nonsense looking man – a politically unknown then. He was probably the “executive secretary” of the NOC. He literally commanded the day to day operations of the NOC — hands on. He was already a “Chief Executive Officer” and “Prime Minister” then, way back during 1969. He looked familiar and was identical towards a former school mate of mine from my Alma Mater : Methodist Boys School, Penang. My school mate’s name was and is Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Lastly, to all the participants of May the 13th that are not indicted including Lim Kit Siang. All are still executives of liberty, happy, free from all encumbrances and despotic control. All will live happily ever after including LKS.
* Mr Goh Hock Guan was the 2nd DAP Secretary General (1968 to 13th May 1969). Mr Goh’s sister, Ms Phyllis Goh was an architect undergraduate then and was a college mate of the writer.
In 1969, the writer was staying above the office of M/s Goh Hock Guan & Associates at Fook Chuen Mansions at Batu Road, Kuala Lumpur. He had a 1st Class ring side seat cum an On Line, Real Time bird’s eye view of the May 13th story.
** Lim Kit Siang was the 1st DAP National Organising Secretary and Editor of The Rocket. (1966 to 1969).
Lim Kit Siang was appointed the 3rd DAP Secretary General (1969 – 1999) – the longest serving DAP Sec Gen.
*** As at 13th May 1969, Lim Kit Siang has four children then. The eldest is a son 9 years old then. He is Lim Guan Eng, the present day Secretary General of the DAP. An Australian Graduate of Monash University, he is an Accountant by profession.
The second child is a daughter. She was 7 years as at 13th May 1969. She hold a double degree – in law and in accountancy.
The third child is also a daughter. She was 6 years old as at 13th May 1969. She is a B.A degree holder.
The last and fourth child is a son. He was 3 years old as at 13th May 1969. He is a heart specialist. A few years ago, I understand that he was attached to the IJN (Institut Jantung Negara) as a cardiologist.
PAP is the People’s Action Party of Singapore which was already ruling Singapore in 1964.
Mr Devan Nair was born in Malacca on the 8th of August 1923. He was the main organizer and founder of the DAP. Naturally he became the 1st Secretary General of the DAP ( 1966 – 1968). He stood as a PAP ( later DAP) candidate in Bungsar in the 1964 General Election. Winning this Bungsar seat, he became the Member of Parliament for PAP in the 1964 – 1969 parliamentary session. From 1981 to 1985 he was appointed the President of Singapore. Dr Chen Man Hin, the present day DAP Life Advisor said “ Without him the DAP may not be born”.
The writer at 18 years old, campaigned for Mr Devan Nair during 1964 General Election. His son Janadas (now Ph D) recalled the days when he was small boy as at 1964. He remembered an incident when the writer was nearly apprehended by the police when the writer put up a 2nd political banner at the Railway Station KL prior to the 1964 General Elections. The setting up of the 1st banner was earlier accomplished at the flyover, beside the KL Railway Station. The banner says “ Vote PAP – a Non Communist Democratic Socialist Party”. The writer then was able to outwit, out manoeuvre and run away from the police in a busy KL because he was young, agile and was on a portable bicycle!
Dr Jana (as he is known to me) who is now residing in Canada. He was here on 2006 during the DAP Devan Nair Memorial. We recalled the good old days.
The writer deliberately put in the names of the literary writers because of requests from the younger readers.
Watch out for
1) Dr Lim Kit Siang.
2) “Lim Kit Siang – 18 months after 13th May 1969” in the coming episodes.
3) Lim Kit Siang an opportunist and an agent of UMNO?
James Bond Zero Zero One