However slim the chances, I will not give up in my endeavour to persuade lam Thye to change his mind to retire from politics

Speech by Parliamentary opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the opening of the Negri Sembilan DAP State Convention at Catholic Centre Seremban on Sunday, 30th September 1990 at 10 am.

However slim the chances, I will not give up in my endeavour to persuade lam Thye to change his mind to retire from politics

All signs point to a general elections being held next month. Today, however, I will not talk about the politics of the coming general elections, as I still feel desolate at the personal level at the announcement by Sdr. Lee lam Thye to retire from politics.

Some newspapers reported today that in my brief remarks at a DAP function in Brickfields, Kuala Lum pur last night, I said that Lam Thye’s resignation was a personal decision and not a political decision. I never made any such remark.

What I said last night was that I would not talk about politics or the political consequences of Lam Thye’s announcement, as my mind was full about the personal costs of an Opposition political leader in Malaysia, the trials and tribulation he has to experience.

I was referring to the personal pain and agony that Lam Thye went through when he took the decision to retire from politics.

I spoke about ‘the loneliness of the long – distance runner’, and how this is nothing compared to the ‘loneliness of the long-distance political leader in the Malaysian Opposition.’

Lam Thye is one of the few ‘long-distance’ DAP leaders, together with DASP Chairman, Dr. Chen Man Hin and myself, having dedicated ourselves to the political struggle for a more just and equal Malaysia for close to a quarter of a century.

We have to bear barbs, carry crosses and wear crowns of thorns in public life, apart from the multifarious pressures and persecutions which are the lot of Opposition political leaders.

In my 24 years of political struggle, I had at times sensed black despair and wondered whether I should call it quits.

It is for this reason that I felt in a very personal way the suffering and agony Lam Thye went through from our first meeting on Sept 19 over his resignation as Federal Territory DAP Chairman. I feel it as my personal failure that I have not succeeded in persuading Lam Thye to change his mind.

Emotionally, I feel desolate and devastated. I am not talking about the political consequences of Lam Thye’s decision to retire from politics, which I have postponed consideration. I am talking about the sense of personal loss and grief.

It is true that Lam Thye and I have very different style of politics, but it is the sum total of our different styles of politics which have made the DAP what it is today.

There had been many people who had tried, and are even now trying their utmost, to exploit our different political styles to divide our relationship, create split and suspicion in the party and undermine public confidence in the DAP.

You only have to read some newspaper comments today to see the beginning of a new political campaign of character assassination, and Lam Thye earlier statements declaring that his recent action had nothing to do with the purported differences between Kit Siang and Lam Thye or with the question of the entry of 27 Chinese educationists and civil rights activists mean absolutely nothing to them.

This is another part for me to bear, another cross for me to carry, another crown of thorn for me to wear. But I will not think about all this today.

My cups of thoughts today still overflow with the personal suffering and agony of Lam Thye over his decision to retire from politics.

If Lam Thye’s decision is final and irrevocable, then we should all respect his decision considering all his political sacrifices and contributions for the past 23 years.

Before anyone, whether inside the party and particularly outside the Party, make any unkind attack on Lam Thye’s decision as to its untimeliness because of the unprecedented political situation today, let us spare a thought about the ‘loneliness’ and ‘agony’ of a long-distance Opposition political leader in Malaysia, a ‘loneliness’ and ‘agony’ which only those who had experienced it could appreciate.

Before anyone cast a stone at Lam Thye for his decision to retire from politics, let him ask himself whether he had done as much as Lam Thye for the people and country.

I do not agree with Lam Thye’s decision to retire from politics, but I will fully respect it is this is his final and irrevocable decision.

However slim the chances, I will continue with my efforts to persuade Lam Thye to change his mind about retiring from politics. This is because the party, the people and the country still needs his political leadership.

I appreciate greatly the advice from Bapa Merdeka, Tunku Abdul Rahman, to Lam Thye to withstand the barbs, the crosses and crown of thorns and to continue with the political struggle – and I urge Lam Thye to accept the wise counsel from Tunku Abdul Rahman, who was talking from his life – long experience.