KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 18 — In a heartfelt tribute penned for the late Dr Chen Man Hin, DAP national chairman Lim Guan Eng described the party's former founding chairman as a man with an indomitable will to right wrongs and an iron-clad determination to make Malaysia "filled with equal opportunity, socio-economic justice and human dignity."
Despite being soft-spoken and known for his quiet nature, Lim said Dr Chen, a medical doctor by training, was fierce when standing up to gross injustice.
"Dr Chen was a man of few words but when facing acts of gross injustice, he would forcefully press the issue," Lim, a former federal minister and then Penang chief minister, said in a statement.
"Such was his anger when the entire DAP national leadership was decapitated following the detention of 16 top leaders under the Internal Security Act in 1987 under the infamous Operasi Lalang," the Bagan MP added.
Dr Chen passed away yesterday at the age of 98, just two years shy of his centenary.
Lim then recalled how Dr Chen, as a member of parliament, had pointed at the home minister in Parliament and indicated the empty seats of the detained DAP MPs in Parliament, shouting angrily that the government was sabotaging democracy by allegedly removing them illegally.
"Dr Chen was willing to stand up in DAP’s moment of need. His moral uprightness was respected by all. He would always lend a helping hand to party leaders who were victimised by Barisan Nasional," Lim said.
The former minister said Dr Chen had developed a personal friendship with his father, Lim Kit Siang, a tie bonded by principles and struggle and filled with unquestioned trust. As a practising Catholic, Dr Chen was nicknamed "the Pope" for his "unremitting moral standards and integrity", Lim noted.
Dr Chen was DAP's chairman from 1966 to 1999. He served as a medical doctor in Singapore and Seremban, before opening his own general practice. Lim said the former DAP leader's humanity shone through in his calling as a medical doctor and by giving free medical treatment without complaint to the poor regardless of race and religion.
In a statement mourning his death, DAP labelled Dr Chen as a "tireless fighter for justice and equality."
"We will miss him for his role in leading us on this difficult journey from an opposition party with a hopeless cause to be a partner in power with our allies in government," Lim said.
"Together with Lim Kit Siang and the late Karpal Singh, Dr Chen formed the invincible triumvirate in the DAP who would not be bought, refused to break under pressure and persevered against impossible odds to make DAP what it is today — the largest political party in Parliament with 42 MPs."