Saturday, 30 January 2016

Tribute to Lim Chin Siong —— A Funeral Oration of Dr Lim Hock Siew 20 Years Back

Tribute to Lim Chin Siong
— A Funeral Oration of Dr Lim Hock Siew 20 Years Back

Source:Comet in Our Sky: Lim Chin Siong in History (First Published in 2001)

"His ability to communicate with the common man, his ability to explain complex political issues in simple layman's language, his complete identification with the oppressed and downtrodden – these were the hallmarks of Chin Siong's political leadership – a leader whose ability, sincerity and dedication aroused the people to free themselves from colonial domination."
——Dr. Lim Hock Siew

The late Dr. Lim Hock Siew (1931-2012)
【Sahabat Rakyat Editor’s Note】This article is the oration of Dr. Lim Hock Siew, the speaker who last spoke at Lim Chin Siong’s cremation on 9 February 1996. The funeral was attended by about 200 people.

Dr Lim Hock Siew came into contact and got to know Lim Chin Siong since 1950s. Dr Lim was studying medicine in Malaya University, Singapore then. He was an active member of the University Socialist Club. Both of them were the prominent leaders of Barisan Sosialis when they were arrested and detained on 2 February 1963. Dr Lim Hock Siew was detained without trial for 19 years. He was released on 6 September 1982. He died of a heart attack on 4 June 2012 at the age of 81.

Appended article is originally published in Comet in Our Sky: Lim Chin Siong in History——

On the evening of 5 February this year (1996), a most humane and valiant heart stopped beating – Chin Siong left this mortal world!

Friends, comrades, before us lies the body of not an ordinary person. Chin Siong is a hero – a national hero – a legend in the glorious history of our people’s struggle for freedom and social justice.

We are here to honour, to cherish, indeed, to consolidate the noble spirit in which Chin Siong had lived his life.

Chin Siong attained a level of human consciousness that transcends all personal gains and greed, to serve his fellowmen, fully and wholeheartedly.

His was a consciousness that had no place for arrogance and conceit – only humility. His strength, his courage, arose only from his deep love and concern for the plight of his fellow human beings – a love that recognised no racial or cultural barriers.

Those who were poor, downtrodden, those who were oppressed, were his friends. Those who sought to deny our people their right to justice and dignity regarded Chin Siong as their enemy.

But the strength and nobility of Chin Siong’s character were self-evident to all those who had come to know him. He was an extremely kind, gentle and compassionate person. His actions were motivated purely by his love for his fellowmen, not by hatred against any particular person.

He had no personal enemies, only high principles and noble causes to which he dedicated his entire life.

He was a political leader who sought no personal gain or reward, and certainly not for pay. Nor was he tempted by privileges and trappings of high office, or deterred by deprivation of personal freedom.

As a trade union leader, he totally identified himself with the common worker whose cause he so fearlessly and uncompromisingly championed.

He led a most simple life, and very often, his bed was the wooden bench in the union headquarters at Middle Road.

To this day, many workers of his generation still fondly remember Chin Siong for what he had done for the workers in the 1950s and 1960s.

But it was a political leader that Chin Siong will be best remembered and respected.

No amount of distortion by his detractors can conceal the fact that Chin Siong was the most fearless and uncompromising fighter against British colonialism in Singapore.
The colonial authority had not relinquished its rule simply because some person or persons could reason with it in impeccable English.

Colonial authority respects only the strength of the people and it was during that crucial stage of our people’s anti-colonial struggle that Chin Siong played the pivotal role in rallying and mobilising our people to free themselves from the degradation and humiliation of colonial rule.

His ability to communicate with the common man, his ability to explain complex political issues in simple layman’s language, his complete identification with the oppressed and downtrodden – these were the hallmarks of Chin Siong’s political leadership – a leader whose ability, sincerity and dedication aroused the people to free themselves from colonial domination.

But Chin Siong did not struggle only for Singapore’s independence. His struggle had always been to attain Singapore’s independence in a truly united and democratic Malaya, including Singapore.

He strongly opposed the terms of Singapore’s merger with Malaysia because he was totally convinced that the unequal terms of merger for Singapore would lead to racial disharmony and division among our people. The outbreak of racial riots after the merger in 1963 and the subsequent expulsion of Singapore from Malaysia amply exonerated Chin Siong’s stand.

But to be proven right was insufficient to earn Chin Siong’s release from imprisonment. His continued incarceration took a severe toll on his health, and in 1967, he became seriously ill. It was during the acute stage of his illness that Chin Siong was exiled from Singapore and denied his rightful role in the political life of our country.

Chin Siong was expelled from Hwa Chung High School for his confrontation with the colonial authority over, among other things, the issue of military conscription. In those days, the colonial power did not regard our people as fit to be free but only fit to die to defend our own slavery.

Although denied a formal higher education, Chin Siong, in the course of his political struggle, had graduated from the highest institution of political education – the political prison. Those who knew him could not but be impressed by his intelligence and knowledge.

Friends, comrades, it has been rightly said that the life of a person who sacrifices himself for his fellowmen is as weighty as Mt Taishan, but the life of a person who lives only for himself is as light as a bird’s feather.

Chin Siong, you have been a Taishan in our midst!

Now, it’s time for you to take your well-earned rest!

Sleep well, my dear comrade, sleep well!!!

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