Bidding farewell to Thomas

The funeral service for Thomas Lee will be held at 11am today at Fairy Park funeral home, Jalan Bukit Kuda, Klang and then for cremation at Fairy Park crematorium, off Jalan Meru, Klang

At last night’s wake

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By Gobind Rudra
Friends from church, politics and journalism said their farewells at Thomas Lee’s wake last night with good-natured tributes that were frank, forthright and at times blunt, but laced with generous helpings of humour and warmth.

Ronnie Liu of Selangor DAP spoke of Thomas’s keen interest in political affairs and his anger at injustices and unfair practices in governance, particularly with the constant sniping at Malaysian Christians; and of Thomas’s perseverance despite the many offers of well-paying positions “from the other side”.

Wong Chun Wai, chief editor of the Star, recalled the many occasions that he would receive text messages from Thomas, even after he had retired from the paper, pointing out errors and lapses in standards, with suggestions on improvements. »

DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang, who came to the wake immediately on returning from Penang, kept his remarks short, acknowledging the loss of his old friend and party member. He did not need to say much, Thomas’s many political commentaries after retirement spoke for themselves.

Thomas’s wife Dolly and son Isaac both spoke of his stubbornness in sticking to what he believed was right. No doubt this trait of his must have bordered on harshness, when viewed in terms of familial relationship yet theirs was no rebuke but a loving acceptance, as accepting as Thomas’s faith that the Lord would always provide.

A tale was related of Thomas as a schoolboy being told by an art master that no one had ever failed at art and then deliberately setting out to fail in that subject to show up the teacher. Another was of his insistence on being dressed in red for his funeral despite the Chinese cultural taboo, but his having relented and offering green as an acceptable alternative. And so green it was.

Even the pastor who led the evening’s services chimed in with a humourous reference to his late brother now having a chance to berate Thomas about a book he had always promised to write, but never did.

A gud choke, Thomas might have said.

Much more than a joke, though, it was a warm and loving embrace of the greatness to which humans aspire and of the undertones of human frailties always in accompaniment, in a minor key.