IT was indeed a delight to see social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye – the only non-Muslim – receiving the 2019 Maulidur Rasul Award from the Yang Dipertuan Agong in conjunction with the national-level Maulidur 2019 celebration on Nov 9.
For one who has been following the humanitarian activities of Lee for decades, the news came as no surprise to me.
If one has been following the public service of this humanitarian, social activist, and animal lover who was once a politician as I have been over the past four decades or so, one would agree that such an honour is well-deserved.
To receive such an honour on the sacred occasion of the Birthday of the Prophet is a real testimony and recognition of Tan Sri’s universal acceptance by Malaysian society, and an honour that few others of other faiths can claim.
But again, this was not surprising for Tan Sri has been a friend to all, regardless of race, religious or other affiliations.
In May this year, Tan Sri Lee was appointed Universal Peace Ambassador by a Buddhist organisation, the Mahasiddha Sanctuary for Universal Peace in Lumbini, Nepal.
Lee’s consistent message to all Malaysians was and continues to be, the promotion of peace and harmony.
Earlier this month, in his role as a trustee of the Malaysia Unity Foundation, he called on Malaysians to rekindle and promote the spirit of muhibbah, which has long been the identity of the country, before and after independence.
He said various issues along racial lines had cropped up lately and these had the potential to threaten the harmonious relations between peoples of different races and religions.
“Let us not emphasise on racial lines and look at every issue from a racial angle and drum up racial sentiment, as all this will lead to uneasiness, tension and eventually will affect national unity, ” he said in a statement that was published in the media.
Lee wears many hats, both literally and figuratively. Depending on the function at hand, Lee can be seen in public wearing the caps of various organisations with their insignias imprinted on them.
Among the organisations he is or has been associated with, are the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, the Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation, the Health Ministry’s Organ Donation Awareness Action Committee, Mental Health Promotion Advisory Council as well as the Eco World Foundation.
In extending his service to the nation, he is often on the move, crisscrossing the country from Perlis, to Johor, to Sarawak, and to Sabah
His needs are few, his meals are meagre, his dressing is modest. There is nothing flamboyant or extravagant about this man who has given the best years of his life to helping people, irrespective of social class, educational achievement or title.
After receiving the Maulidur Rasul Award Lee said it would motivate him further to champion humanitarian causes.
But I feel Lee does not need any external motivation or stimuli. He is self-motivated, and an example to all Malaysians that if we can put aside race, religion, class, creed, prejudice, and instead, extend to all a helping hand, we all could be like Lee Lam Thye and other Maulidur Rasul awardees. And we all could help to build a truly compassionate nation based on this year’s theme “Negara Rahmah Ummah Sejahtera”.
MUHAMMAD AMIR ROSLAN , Kamunting, Perak