~ By Cheong Yaoming ~
The sky was dark and threatened to unleash a storm over the funeral of Dr Lim Hock Siew. At his Joo Chiat Terrace house, dozens of friends, activists and well-wishers, mostly senior citizens, waited with umbrellas for the chartered buses. The clouds eventually subsided, merely releasing a light drizzle over the area.
The funeral was a short simple ceremony at the Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Temple and crematorium. Despite the daunting flight of stairs from the carpark to the crematorium, the senior citizens bravely climbed the steps, slowly but surely.
As the coffin was pushed into the furnace, the anguished cries of Dr Lim’s daughter-in-law pierced the somber atmosphere. A few well-wishers applauded in stoic recognition and respect.
“Dr Lim was very humble and down to earth; he never had a harsh word for anyone he came across. He was very intelligent and highly regarded by his peers. His only ‘crime’ was treating every patient, in accordance to the Hippocratic Oath, that came through his door.” Dr Siak Chong Meng, a 78 year old fellow classmate of Dr Lim Hock Siew at the University of Malaya recounted. “I could never figure out how he remained calm and not resentful over his wrongful imprisonment. He was a kind and gentle soul but would never compromise on his principles or do anything against what he stood for. His wife (Dr Beatrice Chen) never complained about the harsh treatment of her husband either.”
When asked what effect Dr Lim’s passing would have on Singaporeans, Dr Vincent Wijeysingha said “By itself this event would not have much of an effect however, just like many pebbles being dropped into a lake causing a ripple effect which will stir the entire lake, other events will work in tandem to strenghten the movement of young people wanting to know more about Singapore’s overlooked history.”
“What astounds me is the courage of people like Dr Lim Hock Siew. Some of them have a look of confusion on their face when you call them heroes. They don’t think they are heroes but they are.” Dr Wijeysingha concluded.