The People’s Hero’s article 15
Appendix III: Lim Hock Siew’s writings, statements, speeches and interviews
Tribute to Lim Chin Siong
Lim Hock Siew
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 whole- heartedly.
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 selfevident 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 as a political leader that Chin Siong will be best remembered and respected.
No amount of distortion by his detractors can conceal the factthat 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 ex- plain 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 into 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 1964 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 con- frontation 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! !!
Note: Dr Lim Hock Siew came in touch with and got to know Lim Chin Siong in the mid-1950s as a politically active medical undergraduate member of the Socialist Club of the University of Malaya, then located on Singapore island. Both Chin Siong and Hock Siew were leading members of the Barisan Sosialis when they were arrested and detained without trial together with well over a hundred of others in early February 1963.
The above is the text of Hock Siew’s oration as the ﬁnal speaker just before Chin Siong’s cremation, attended by about two thousand mourners on the morning of Friday, 9 February 1996.
The cremation hall was jam-packed with people and many had to stand at the entrance foyer and on the grounds around the building. Some of those attending had ﬂown in from as far as Penang. Several others had come from Kuala Lumpur. Hock Siew ended his oration with a call for an ovation of clapping to bid Chin Siong a hero’s farewell. The response was thunderous as the prolonged clapping rose to a crescendo with the moving of Chin Siong’s body away from the cremation hall to the incineration chamber.