Right from the day he joined DAP in the latter half of 1966, Lim Kit Siang showed his flair for politics. He saw that the party could be a national party, because of its ideology of a quest for a just and equal society - a Malaysian Malaysia where all races are equal.
Inspired by this belief, Lim Kit Siang as organising secretary proceeded to visit the whole country to set up new branches with vim and vigor. He worked hard.
One night, after a ceramah he was fatigued, yet he drove himself home in the middle of night. The next day he could not remember how he had reached home. That is the mettle of a man with tremendous vision and energy to make Malaysia a better country. His drive energised other DAP members and they set up one branch after another in peninsular Malaysia.
In 1969 the riots occurred. At that time, Kit Siang was in Sabah. He immediately flew back although he knew that he would be arrested. As soon as the plane touched down, was waiting for him. He was arrested and detained for 18 months.
He was also feared by UMNO, MCA and MIC because of his belief in multiracial unity and democracy as well as his oratory prowess at ceramahs. He had the crowd mesmerised. The leaders of the Alliance quivered when he spoke or issued fiery statements.
It cannot be denied Kit Siang was the driving force behind the success of the party. He exercised strong discipline. Trouble-makers were isolated and expelled. He was labelled a dictator by his enemies in BN. He was not. He exercised discipline so that the party would grow stronger.
Nowadays, Kit Siang has mellowed. He is more experienced and has an instinctive analysis of any political crisis.
However, Kit Siang today is no different from the younger Kit Siang. At 70, he has not slackened his pace and still travels to all parts of the country to troubleshoot and set up branches in places like Sabah and Sarawak.
What drives him relentlessly? It’s his conviction that the DAP could progress rapidly and help change the political face of the country to become a truly Malaysian First.
We are getting there, because DAP now has allies like PAS and PKR who share DAP's dream for a more just and equal society.
Kit Siang and I are long time comrades-in-arms, since 1966. I can say with authority that in DAP's roll of honour and heroes, Kit Siang is the best of the best.
Let us all wish him a happy 70th birthday.