Dr Kua Kia Soong

I first read about Goh Kean Seng when I was a student activist in the UK during the 70s. He was featured in the “Prisoner of Conscience” column in The Times of London. He had been arrested in 1974 and detained for more than 8 years for being involved in the Universiti Malaya Chinese Language Society. I cut out that news item and kept it with my other cuttings. Years later, I surprised Kean Seng with that news cutting which he was thrilled to get.

All of us who have known and worked with Kean Seng all these years have been impressed with his passionate defence and promotion of mother tongue education. He was very fluent in English and Malay but his eloquence when speaking in Mandarin on education reform and political strategy was exceptional.

He was a leading light in the working committee of Dong Zong, The United Chinese School Committees’ Association of Malaysia and a fervent champion of education reform of the Independent Chinese Secondary Schools. He himself has been Head of the Shen Jai High School in Ipoh, Confucian Private Secondary School, Kuala Lumpur and Chung Hwa Independent High School, Kelantan and for sure, he has left his indelible mark on the character of these schools. He helped to found the Lim Lian Geok Cultural Development Centre and also served as Chairman.

Kean Seng came to my defence when the reactionary directors of New Era College terminated my contract as principal of New Era College in 2008. Together with other comrades in the movement, we toured 18 towns from Kedah across to Terengganu and down to Johor Bahru to report to our supporters about the destruction of New Era College that was funded and supported by the community throughout the country. The rest is history and Goh Kean Seng’s speech at our protest rally on 16 November 2008 can still be watched on Youtube 《新纪元学院风波》.

We will surely miss you Kean Seng – your ready smile, provocative passion and wonderful wit. Rest in peace comrade…

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