Wee: San Choon a respected leader

KUALA LUMPUR: Former MCA president Tan Sri Lee San Choon, who has died at the age of 88, was a political legend respected by all, says Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.

Expressing his deepest condolences to the bereaved family, the MCA president recalled that Lee became one of the youngest MPs when he won the Kluang Utara parliamentary seat in Johor in the 1959 general election.

He said Lee went on to make great contributions to the people and nation.

“His fighting spirit had always been a source of motivation and inspiration to many of our leaders today, including me. I was inspired by his strong leadership skills and passion to protect the interests of all races and in nation-building.

“During his lifetime, he was also elected Seremban MP and had the honour of being appointed the transport minister. In Wisma MCA, we have the Dewan San Choon which was named after this great leader of ours,” Dr Wee said in tweeting his tribute yesterday.

Lee, who died yesterday, was born in Pekan, Pahang, in 1935 and rose from the party’s Youth wing to become its youngest MP at the age of 24.

He served as the fourth MCA president from 1975 to 1983, and led the party in three general elections, most successfully in the 1982 national polls.

Lee held various ministerial posts in the Cabinet from 1969 to 1983, such as Labour and Manpower Minister, Works and Public Utilities Minister, besides helming the Transport Ministry.

Other MCA leaders also paid tribute to Lee, saying his death was a great loss to the party and nation.

MCA deputy president Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon said during Lee’s presidency, he launched MCA’s five major projects which included Wisma MCA, the party headquarters here which remains a landmark for party members.

Party secretary-general Datuk Chong Sin Woon, in expressing his condolences, described Lee as an MCA legend.

“His death is a great loss to the party and nation,” he added.

MCA Youth chief Datuk Nicole Wong said Lee had a long and distinguished career, adding that his contributions would never be forgotten.

“My thoughts are with his family and loved ones during this difficult time,” she said.

MCA spokesperson Chan Quin Er described Lee as a visionary leader.

“We mourn his passing. He was a leader and patriot who dedicated his entire life to Malaysia.

“We will miss his kindness, wisdom, vision and decency in the years to come,” she said in a Facebook post.

Former MCA president Tan Sri Liow Tiong Lai said when he assumed the presidency in 2014, he met Lee who advised him to strengthen the party at the grassroots level in order to woo support.

“Even after Lee retired, he remained concerned about matters involving the MCA. He helped to build a solid and reliable foundation for the MCA and was highly respected,” the former Bentong MP said when contacted.

Melaka MCA liaison secretary Datuk Koh Chin Han recalled Lee’s splendid victory against DAP founder Dr Chen Man Hin for the Seremban parliamentary seat which was one of the focal points of the 1982 general election.

Lee triumphed by 845 votes against the then incumbent Seremban MP.

“Lee’s remarkable victory inspired the entire party,” Koh said in reminiscing about that historic occasion for the party.

Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is serving a jail term, also expressed his condolences in a Facebook post, sharing an old photo of his father Tun Abdul Razak Hussein with Lee.

“A person who has contributed a lot to education, played an important role in the strengthening and expansion of Tunku Abdul Rahman College,” he said in a post uploaded by his FB admin.

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