LOVE him or loathe him, Malaysians certainly cannot ignore him. With a political career spanning five decades – Tan Sri Lim Kit Siang – has endured endless character assassination, countless court cases and even jail time in his quest for a multi-racial Malaysia where diversity is celebrated.
He has been demonised by nationalists and right-wing factions, not least by his arch enemy (and one-time strange bedfellow) – Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Many have used Lim as the perennial bogeyman seemingly hell-bent on usurping the Malays as the dominant political force in the country.
Lim’s early life and start of his political struggle was well-chronicled by veteran journalist Kee Thuan Chye in Malaysian First – Volume One: None But The Bold which left readers with the cliffhanger of an ending as Lim was incarcerated under Ops Lalang in 1987.
The story continues with the recently released second volume – Lim Kit Siang: Malaysian First, Volume Two – Bold to The Last Battle. While the first volume gives readers insight into Lim’s early life and the roots of his political ideals, Volume Two highlights the many contradictions that have come to mark Lim’s political career.
This excerpt set in 2017 highlights this:
As most political observers know, the former twice former premier has since returned to type portraying the DAP as the root of all evil, most recently in the six state elections.
The demonisation of the DAP again planted the seeds of fear of a unity government dominated by a Chinese-majority party leading to reduced margins in many states for the ruling coalition.
That both Mahathir and the DAP joined forces to successfully remove Datuk Seri Najib Razak from Putrajaya was quickly – and conveniently – forgotten.
Kee was not commissioned to write the biography but was granted access to Lim for interviews. Thus, it can be said that this book carries a certain sense of objectivity that may have been missing if it was an autobiography.
With the fluid and constantly changing narratives of recent times, this book is a timely and relevant tome shedding light on the constant U-turns and hypocrisies inherent in the Malaysian political landscape.
An intriguing read that many Malaysians interested in the country’s democratic struggles will want to delve into to gain a better understanding of what motivates Lim and to some extent, the DAP’s stated objectives.
Lim Kit Siang: Malaysian First, Volume Two – Bold to The Last Battle is now available at Gerakbudaya Bookstore, Kinokuniya and Eslite Spectru @ Starhill Gallery. – Oct 18, 2023