Lam Thye’s reason for quitting politics is still a mystery

Lee Lam Thye recounts a major fraud in her autobiography and the reasons she withdrew from politics on the eve of the 1990 general election will continue to be a mystery.

He blamed me as secretary general of the DAP in 1990 as well as several other party colleagues for betraying him and leading to the announcement of his political retirement on September 29, 1990.

He said he was told by party leaders he would be removed from the Bukit Bintang parliamentary seat where he had served for four terms, and “I wasn’t even told where I would be directed to fight”.

This was a huge scam as I never told Lam Thye that she could not enter the contest at Bukit Bintang again, and it never crossed my mind that Lam Thye would contest a seat other than Bukit Bintang before the 1990 general election.

It is very disappointing when Lam Thye makes such a hoax in her autobiography to explain why she retired from politics.

To this day, 32 years later, I still don’t know why Lam Thye stepped down from politics ahead of the 1990 general election.

I have reviewed the notes. The day after Lam Thye announced her retirement from politics and went abroad, I said the following to the DAP function in Batu Pahat:

“There has long been an attempt to create divisions among all of us because of our different political styles, but I have always considered that our different political styles complement each other, and the current DAP is made up of these styles. We all have different politics…

“I had my first discussion and meeting with him on September 19, where he informed him that he had no intention of withdrawing his resignation as Federal Territory DAP Chair, and that he would also announce his retirement from politics.

“The 10 days following this meeting were painful days for both him and I. I have held four meetings with him to persuade him to change his mind, not only to return as Federal Territory DAP Chair, but to continue to contribute to his leadership and political service.

“I have had discussions over the phone about this too, and after one phone call at midnight on Thursday I thought I had seen the light at the end of the tunnel and Lam Thye was ready to reconsider her position.

“This was proven wrong, and on Saturday, Lam Thye announced that she would be retiring from politics.”

Lam Thye’s announcement of political retirement was made in a defiant September 1990, during which 10,000 people demonstrated about the toll issue in Cheras; Tan Kok Wai, a Cheras DAP Member of Parliament, was detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) and Lam Thye left the Federal Territory DAP meeting and later stepped down as Federal Territory DAP Chair.

Lam Thye’s announcement was made less than a week before the dissolution of Parliament to hold the eighth general election on 21 October 1990.

Also read Lim Kit Siang: A person of principle, friend and sharp thinker in politics

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