Citizen Soldier #1: Mr. KH Lee, a stalwart since the beginning

After introducing of the concept of Citizen Soldiers in my previous post here , I have decided to locate some of them and perhaps bring out their stories for sharing. I am convinced that I will find ordinary folks with ordinary and not so ordinary tales. I hope that you can relate to them just as I do, follow ordinary Malaysians who have came forward and do just a bit /or a lot more than most of us. I did not lead on to any one of them on what to say, I just told them to tell me their stories.
I started my quest by engaging the kind assistance of the friendliest State Assembly Woman I know and she introduced a few DAP members to me. I had an interesting couple of hours in DAP NS’s new HQ. The following posts are their voices.

Mr. Lee (no relation to the writer) will not strike you as someone out of the ordinary. You would not notice him in crowd but yet this gentleman who does not look his age – slightly over 60s, is no ordinary person.
Mr. Lee has been with DAP for more than 30 years and he is the current Secretary for Mambau branch. Back in 1974, spurred on by the land title and other issues faced by New Villagers in Mambau, Mr. Lee fought for and obtained the registration of a DAP branch in Mambau in order to fight for the villagers’ rights.

The villagers were initially scared to death fearing reprisals from the powers to be but owing to Mr. Lee and a few other stalwarts’ effort, DAP Mambau was registered after a few years. His target then was “to have 1 party member in every household in Mambau New Village” and today, 90% of the households in the New Village boast of a party member.

Mr. Lee was one of those arrested on 7 May 2009 in Ipoh for ordering a cup of tea and trying to drink it. When told the reason for his arrest was because he was within 500 metres from the State Assembly Hall as prohibited by the court order, he asked the arresting police officer how he managed to measure the distance correctly. The officer was dumbfounded but took him into custody anyway. After a 9 hours enforced hospitality and some photo taking for kenang-kenangan, he was released without charges.

Mr. Lee explained that there is nothing to be afraid of getting involved in politics as a participative citizen. “In fact, since in DAP, we always fight using and in accordance with the applicable laws of the day, we ended up learning more about our rights and provisions of the relevant legislation.” In fact, such awareness also ensure he enforces his right properly.

“For instance, many people here share the opinion that if they insure their car for, say, RM46K and in the event of total loss, they count their lucky stars if the insurance company would only pay them RM40K.” he said. “However, in my case, I refused to take the RM40K only, threatened to take whatever legal rights I was entitled to and the insurance company promptly paid up the entire RM46K I was entitled too.”

Many people would say that joining and struggling with DAP would damaged their prospect for financial rewards or livelihood but Mr. Lee provided a solid evidence to the contrary. He is a contractor for plumbing works and has extensive contracts with various reputable. “The developer for Taman Mambau Jaya is a MCA member and yet I got the contract for plumbing work for the whole housing estate.” He added, “although we have opposing political stand, when it comes to economics, we deal as businessmen and professionals.” Perhaps he was too modest to mention that he got the contract base on merit.

On a sunny morning in Mambau New Village, I watched Mr. Lee carried some hefty P.A. equipment for a DAP press conference to the luggage compartment of his Mercedes and drove off, I found myself no longer subscribing to the notion that one’s livelihood can be compromised by being a participative citizen in a democratic country be it in the establishment or opposition.

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