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Tan Sri Dato' Lee Lam Thye Print E-mail
Truly a Man Who Advocates Service Above Self
ImageThe caption (as appeared in SMI Alumni Association’s Newsletter Vol 2, Issue 1) aptly describes the people’s man, Tan Sri Datuk Lee Lam Thye. He is an epitome of service and achievement. With a life time commitment towards helping the poor and championing their cause in the country, Tan Sri is deeply passionate about his work and the many tasks that lie ahead. He was instrumental in the formation of the SMI Alumni Association, Klang Valley and is presently its advisor.
In his recent interview with SMI Newsletter, Tan Sri recalled that his early life was difficult as he hailed from a poor family. His late father was a fitter and his late mother had to do laundry work. He used to help out by sending clothes to the laundry after school hours. During the school holidays, he would pluck rambutans, jambus and guavas from the many fruit trees in his house compound and sell them at the Menglembu market to subsidise the family's income. Brought up under such difficult circumstances, he realised the importance of having to do well so as not to let his parents down. Tan Sri has two sons. The eldest is trained in Accountancy and Finance while the second son is working in the UK having graduated in Actuarial Science. Both are concentrating on their career and have not shown any interest in politics at the moment.
Tan Sri actually aspired to be a pilot as he was keenly interested in aeroplanes when in Form 3. But fate decided otherwise. By the end of Form 4, he started to develop an interest in politics. “Why politics?” he was asked. “Because through politics, I could serve the people, the nation and I could voice out the hopes and aspirations of the people. I had a vision to fulfil and that vision was to be a Member of Parliament. That was in Form 5 and the rest is history.” he replied.
At the age of 24, Tan Sri became the youngest elected representative when he won the Selangor State Constituency of Bukit Nenas as an Opposition candidate (1969 – 1974). He was later elected a Member of Parliament for Kuala Lumpur Bandar for four consecutive terms from 1974 to 1990.  He recalled those early years he had to make campaign speeches in front of huge crowds: “I actually experienced stage fright. I was nervous and the first few speeches in Bahasa Malaysia, English and Chinese were poorly done. I literally forgot what I had wanted to say!” It was inborn in him to help others as he did voluntary work even when he was very young.
Quote:“I always tried to do what I could to help the poor since I grew up in those circumstances. I knew the difficulties faced by the poor. I took great pains to understand the plight of the poor and the underprivileged, to speak up for them, to voice their grievances and to devote full time to my work as the MP of Bukit Bintang.” Unquote
Even after his retirement from politics, Tan Sri still packs a 24-hour day serving different causes. He hardly has time to relax. He currently serves in various capacity in no less than 12 charity/community service organisations - as Chairman of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH); Vice-Chairman and Member of the Executive Council of the Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF); National Vice-President of Pemadam Malaysia ……  just to name a few. Besides his busy daily schedule, his normal days will be to return home, have a simple meal and then work until very late at night. “I am always in my study and it’s a daily affair even on public holidays unless I’m away for some overseas engagements. I do make it a point to exercise like walking and occasionally play golf. My advice is to eat healthily, in moderation and to include some form of exercise.”
Tan Sri was publicly honoured in countless number of occasions in recognition of his work, the first being the Outstanding Young Malaysian Award presented by Jaycee Malaysia in 1986His most recent is the Caring Michaelian of the year 2003 Award presented by his Alma Mater, St. Michael’s Institution, Ipoh and fellow Michaelians at the alumni association’s annual dinner held in KL on April 12. He was visibly moved by the award as he received it on stage as he said in his usual humility, “I share this award with all my fellow Michaelians.” There is no doubt in the minds of everyone present that this is the award he will hold closest to his heart.
La Salle traditions have a special place in his heart. He was quoted as saying, in his concluding words to the  SMI Newsletter interview thus:“I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to my parents and teachers at SMI. I had acquired from both my parents and teachers (as it was a missionary school) the basic training in discipline and in respecting the elders. The teachers had instilled in me the ‘esprit de corp’ in my life”
A true La Sallian indeed. Syabas to you Tan Sri !

Acknowledgement with thanks:
SMI Alumni Association’s  Klang Valley Newsletter Vol: 2. Issue 1 – April, 2003


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