Lim Lian Geok, acknowledged as the soul of Malaysian Chinese education, had a well-known rallying cry to the community which was: “The best antidote to sabotage is to construct!”
Throughout the 50s and 60s, Malaysian Chinese education faced an incessant sabotage from the Umno-led coalition and Lian Geok paid the price of adhering to his principles by losing his teaching permit and even his citizenship.
Later, Lim Fong Seng, the father of the Unified Examination Certificate and leader of the Independent Chinese Secondary Schools Movement, ignited the campaign to construct the Chinese-medium Merdeka University.
In the 80s and 90s, Fong Seng was leader of the Malaysian Chinese Civil Rights movement and he too paid a high price for holding firmly to his principles, by losing business opportunities and suffering detention under Operation Lalang in 1987.
Inspiring leaders such as Lim Lian Geok and Lim Fong Seng held firm to their principles. And they stood out because they walked the talk. They had a vision of upholding and developing mother-tongue education into a complete and first-class educational system in the country.