by Eric Lim
When my fellow Museum Volunteer sent a message asking whether I had heard news of the passing of Cikgu Lee, I brushed her off and told her that I had met him about a week ago at his centre and he was perfectly fine. Not too long after, the official news came from other Museum Volunteers of his passing. Cikgu Lee died of a heart attack and he was only 66 years old.
Lee Kim Sin, or affectionately known as Cikgu Lee, was from Merbok, Kedah. He was a teacher at SMJK Yu Hua, Kajang, before he stood for elections during GE 12 in 2008 for the Kajang state seat. He came out victorious with a majority of 3,268 votes. I met him for the first time when he attended one of our Tai Chi events at Mewah Club in 2010. My next meeting with him came ten years later, in early 2020 when he was the Director of the Kajang Heritage Centre located at Jalan Mendaling. I wanted his permission to bring visitors to the centre and, at the same time, request him to narrate the history of Kajang and the surrounding towns. Since then, I have been a frequent visitor to the centre.
Every time I set foot in the Centre, I learnt new things from Cikgu Lee. He was ever willing to share his knowledge with us. I still recall vividly that I told him that I was writing articles about places and he would immediately mention the major events that took place in the town. For example: Broga – thermal incinerator project, Rawang – protest against the construction of high tension electric cable towers, Tanjong Malim – Battle of Slim River, Dengkil – discoveries at Jenderam Hilir and Orang Asli land issue at Bukit Tunggul.
Cikgu Lee was also a keen researcher on the Sin Sze Si Ya temples in our country. He was passionate about the preservation and conservation of the town. For one of his projects, the Taman Tasik Sungai Chua, a former tin mine, he worked closely with the Kajang Municipal Council, and this project ultimately came to fruition. It was officially opened last year to great response from residents of Kajang; I am a frequent user.
Kajang as well as the cultural and heritage community will miss you dearly. Rest in peace, Cikgu Lee.
2 thoughts on “Tribute to Cikgu Lee”
Kajang never featured on my list of ‘to visit’ places, but I found myself re-visiting Kajang the past year whenever covid restrictions on travel permitted. The magnetic force to this historical (erstwhile) backwaters, was the Kajang Heritage Centre, the labour of love of one man – Lee Kim Sin – whose desire to perpetuate the history of his town of adoption knew no bounds. With more than 300 artefacts and documents painstakingly collected and curated, they record the history of Hulu Langat district.
The little library was a treasure trove of Malaysiana. Imagine my delight when I found ‘War of the Running Dogs’ and ‘The Jungle is Neutral’ among his collection. I had been looking for these titles after the MV training lectures. With no hesitation, Cikgu Lee loaned them to me, for as long as I needed them! I was to return for more book loans (among them Magan’s book on Street Names). Each visit was greeted with warmth as he welcomed me to use the little reading space.
…so it was with deep sadness that I learned of his sudden passing on 11 May 2021.
Farewell, Cikgu Lee. May eternal rest be granted unto you.
Gone too soon. Cikgu Lee has contributed so much not only to the people in Kajang and the Kajang Heritage Centre but also to so many of us who seek his knowledge. I asked him whether he could give the MV a talk about Sin Sze Si Ya temple this year. He agreed but wanted to do it in person at the temple itself, when it was safe to visit again. He still had so many stories to share. You will be missed Cikgu Lee. Rest in Peace.
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