Call on the new young generation of Malaysians to emulate Kerk Kim Hock who in his youth answered to call of the nation and the times to dedicate his life to make Malaysia a great, free, democratic and united plural nation
We gather here tonight to remember Kerk Kim Hock, sad at his passing but also to celebrate his life which was dedicated to the Malaysian nation and the cause of justice, freedom, unity and harmony in a plural society.
I first met Kerk in Monash University in September 1980 when he, as President of the Monash University Malaysian Students Union (MUMSU) invited me to give a talk to Malaysian students in the university.
I came across from the archives a reference to my talk to Malaysian students at Monash University on 25th Sept. 1980, which is as follows:
“Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Lim Kit Siang, has called on Malaysian students in Australia to work hard and to make the best use of their education opportunities in Australia so that they could return on completion of their studies and help build up Malaysia.
“He said Malaysian students in Australia are in a sense fortunate and must not forget their responsibility to return to Malaysia to create a more just and equal, multi-racial Malaysia, and stamp out all form of extremism and chauvinism.
“Lim said this at a record-breaking capacity crowd of Malaysian student at the Monash University, organised by the Monash University Malaysian Students Union (MUMSU), during his visit to Melbourne. The turn-out of Malaysian students at Lim’s talk was not only the biggest in the history of Monash University, but is ten times bigger than the average turn-out for talks by visitors from Malaysian.
“In his speech, which was followed by question-and-answer session, lasting over three hours, Lim dealt with a wide range of issues affecting Malaysia in the 1980s.
“He called for a concerted effort by all Malaysian to nationalize their thinking and approaches, and not to do the reverse, which is to further communalise life and attitudes in Malaysia.
“Lim told the Malaysian students that Malaysia need the contribution of everyone of her son or daughter to make Malaysia great. Malaysia is a blessed nation endowed with such wealthy natural and man-made resources, and with a united people which is hard-working, innovative and creative, an entire new future awaits her.
“Unfortunately, there were those extremist and short-sighted group which were more interested in raising nationally-divisive issues which could only create inter-racial and inter-religious distrust and antagonism.
“Lim said that the future of Malaysia rested in the hands of the new young generation of Malaysian – on their preparedness to make a commitment and take a stand to fight for their legitimate right and liberties.
“Lim reminded the Malaysian students of the saying that ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing’. He quoted form the Irish poet, Y.B. Yeats, and hoped that Malaysians would not live in an age ‘Where all the best lacked conviction And the worst are full of passionate intensity’.
“Lim said that the Malaysian students in Australia are among the ‘best’ Malaysian talents produced in the first post Merdeka generation – constituting the ‘cream of the cream’.
“Their responsibility therefore is to make the best use of their educational opportunity in Australia and on completion of their studies, return to Malaysia to help build a new Malaysia.
“If the students do not return to Malaysia, Malaysia will lose many of her ‘best’ sons and daughters, which is can only result in the ‘worst; for Malaysia.
“In his speech, Lim stressed the need for young Malaysian to set the example to think, feel and act as Malaysian first and foremost, and their racial considerations should come second.”
I can say now the Kerk responded to this call of the nation and the times to dedicate himself on his graduation from Australia to return and serve the nation.
I call on the new young generation of Malaysians to emulate Kerk Kim Hock who in his youth answered to call of the nation and the times to dedicate his life to make Malaysia a great, free, democratic and united plural nation.
Shortly on his return to Malaysia, I appointed Kerk as my political secretary and he has gone on to prove that he is a great son of Malacca and Malaysia, serving for one term as Malacca State Assembly and two terms as Member of Parliament, and the height of his political life was to be the fourth DAP Secretary-General.
In the 15 years he had battled cancer, we have kept in close touch and Kerk had constantly shared with DAP leaders his thoughts and views on political events and developments.
Let me share the last three WhatApp he sent to me:
30 July 2017: “you fell? Take care.”
3 Aug 2017: “reporters must do basic checks you said. Great.”
5 Aug 2017: “Am in sjmc hospital in pj for thrombolysis procedure to remove clots. Procedure is this morning. Today n tomorrow likely in ccu. I will be here for a week or to.”
Kerk has left us at a critical political time for Malaysia, where unprecedented political changes are in the air.
It is now left to the young generation of Malaysians to achieve what Kerk and my generation had struggled and sacrificed for since the establishment of DAP 51 years ago in 1966.
I have appointed Kerk’s junior, Kerk Chee Yee, 25, as my political secretary, the first father-and-son team to serve as my political secretary, just as Patto and Kasthuri was the first father-and-daughter team to serve as my political secretary.
Chee Yee’s greatest challenge is to spearhead the fifth rejuvenation of the DAP and ensure that the youths in Malaysia are in the forefront in the eternal battle for freedom, justice, unity and harmony in Malaysia.