Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Chinese Educationist: Lim Lian Geok

Lim Lian Geok Memorial Hall

Lim Lian Geok (August 19, 1901-December 18, 1985), former Chairman of The United Chinese School Teachers' Association of Malaysia (popularly known as Jiao Zong), was a great educationalist as well as a famous social activist.

He was born and educated in China, came to Malaya in 1925 as a teacher and became a citizen of Malaya in 1951. He actively involved in local social reformation after the World War II.

In 1945, he took charge of the rehabilitation of the Confucian Chinese School which was destroyed by the war. In 1949, he set up the Kuala Lumpur Chinese School Teachers' Association to look after the welfare of the then lowly-paid teachers. In 1951, he was one of the pioneers in setting up the now influential United Chinese School Teachers' Association of Malaysia, and became its chairman in 1953, holding that position for 8 years until he was revoked of his citizenship and stripped of his teaching permit in 1961.

During his term as chairman of Jiao Zong, he was practically the spokesman of the Chinese community on issues of Chinese education as well as Chinese's civil rights in Malaya. He advocated the independence of the nation which before 1957 was under the British colonial rule. He strived incessantly for equality between all the ethnic groups. He believed that all races should work together to build and develop the nation; the non-Malays should be royal to the country and the Malays should endorse the concept of “peaceful co-existences” and “ sharing with other races”. Prior to the nation's independence, he also started a movement to encourage the Chinese who chose to settle in Malaya to apply for citizenship, and through this effort, the number of Chinese citizens jumped from 120,000 to 700,000.

On issues of Chinese education, he led confrontations and tough negotiations with the colonial government and later the Government led by Tunku Abdul Rahman. In 1960, he led a movement to oppose the Rahman Talib Report which intended to abolish the Chinese Secondary Schools. However, he was forced to end this relentless efforts to have the clause removed as his citizenship was revoked on August 12 by the Home Minister, and, later, his teaching permit was stripped. He was since secluded from the society and spent time writing his memoir, and yet still paying attention to current issues until the last drop of his life.

In 1985, he died of lung infection. The honor the Chinese community bestowed on him upon his death was to turn the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (recently gazetted by the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage as the National Heritage) into the funeral parlor, the first time this has been done in its past 60 years of history. People from all over the country, put aside their works and came all the way to pay their last respects to him, including high-ranking leaders of political parties such as MCA, DAP, GERAKAN and PAS.

A fund in memory of him was set up, which was later registered as LLG Cultural Development Centre, a non-profit organization.

LLG Cultural Development Centre

In memory of Mr. Lim Lian Geok, former Chairman of The United Chinese School Teachers' Association of Malaysia, a fund was set up by 15 leading Chinese organizations on December 28, 1985, exactly 10 days after he was laid to rest. It was registered as a non-profit company under the name of LLG Cultural Development Centre Berhad in the year 1995, after prolonged negotiations with the registrar about the feasibility and rationality of the name Lim Lian Geok initially intended to be registered.

Centre's Core Values:

Uphold the principles of democracy, human rights and respect for individualities and etnic diversities.
Cherish a culture of solidarity, friendship, cooperation and constructiveness.

Centre's objectives:

to commemorate the late Mr. Lim Lian Geok and to assist in achieving such aim by all lawful means and instruments, inclusive of constructing a memorial hall, publication of books, magazines and journals, organizing talks, seminars and exhibitions etc.

to conduct or sponsor any research programs relating to culture and education of all kinds, to publish and disseminate the research outcomes and reference materials.

to promote and sponsor any publication of general and professional books, magazines and journals relating to culture and education.

to promote and sponsor, within the capacity of the organization, any programs and activities which are conducive to mutual understanding and development of cultures among various races in our country, the unity of fellow citizens, the progress and development of our society.

Some famous sayings of Lim Lian Geok:

"To create, enjoy and promote one's culture is the sacred and inviolable rights of every race. Our country, Malaya, demands us to fulfill our duties, to show undivided patriotism, which we will abide by unquestionably. However, if the government were to use its political power to abolish the Chinese schools, we have no choice but to resort to legitimate and lawful opposition."

"In this multi-ethnic country, solidarity, amicability, peace and cooperation are some of the important principles, but all these and the rest cannot be achieved unless they are built upon a strong foundation of equality for all."

"We will live, work and play on this lovable land of ours for generations to come. By reason of constant cultural exchanges and influences, all cultural differences will disappear one day in the distant future, and we will become like a family. Our current mission is to set the foundation for friendship and cooperation, and to inculcate the ideas of peaceful co-existence and willingness to share for the future generations."



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