Lee Kim Sai

Tan Sri Dato' Sri Lee Kim Sai (simplified Chinese: 李金狮; traditional Chinese: 李金獅; pinyin: Lǐ Jīnshī) (1 March 1937 – 24 November 2019) was a Malaysian politician. In the 1980s and 1990s, he served as Labour Minister (1985–1989), Housing and Local Government Minister (1989–1990) and Health Minister (1990–1995); and was deputy president of Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) (1986–1996), a major component party of the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.[1][2]

Lee Kim Sai

Deputy President of the Malaysian Chinese Association
In office
September 1986  July 1996
PresidentLing Liong Sik
Preceded byLing Liong Sik
Succeeded byLim Ah Lek
Health Minister
In office
Preceded byNg Cheng Kiat
Succeeded byChua Jui Meng
ConstituencyHulu Langat
Housing and Local Government Minister
In office
14 August 1989  26 October 1990
Preceded byNg Cheng Kiat
Succeeded byTing Chew Peh
ConstituencyHulu Langat
Labour Minister
In office
1985  14 August 1989
Preceded byMak Hon Kam
Succeeded byLim Ah Lek
ConstituencyUlu Selangor
Hulu Langat
Member of the Malaysian Parliament
for Hulu Langat
In office
3 August 1986  23 April 1995
Preceded byRosemary Chow Poh Keong (MCA-BN)
Succeeded byBadrul Hisham Abdul Aziz (UMNO-BN)
Majority8,925 (1986)
9,691 (1990)
Member of the Malaysian Parliament
for Ulu Selangor
In office
26 April 1982  2 August 1986
Preceded byMichael Chen (MCA-BN)
Succeeded byS. Subramaniam (MIC-BN)
Majority7,377 (1982)
Member of the Selangor State Legislative Assembly
for Rawang
In office
14 September 1974  21 April 1982
Preceded byConstituency established
Succeeded byTang See Hang (MCA-BN)
Majority1,374 (1974)
3,196 (1978)
Personal details
Born(1937-03-01)1 March 1937
Rawang, Selangor, Federated Malay States, British Malaya (now Malaysia)
Died24 November 2019(2019-11-24) (aged 82)
Jalan Setia Bakti, Bukit Damansara, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Resting placeXiao En Nilai Memorial Park, 286 Km, KL-Seremban Highway (South Bound), Nilai, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia
Nationality Malaysia
Political partyMalayan Chinese Association (MCA)
Spouse(s)Puan Sri Datin Sri Wan Yuet Fong
ChildrenBoon Kuan, Boon Tim, Boon Siew, Boon Cheng

Early life

Lee was born on 1 March 1937 to a poor family in Ulu Klang, Selangor, and was brought up in Jinjang, Kuala Lumpur. He was educated at Chong Hwa High School in Kuala Lumpur, then trained as a teacher at the Teachers' Training College in Kuala Lumpur. He started teaching in 1957, and rose to become the principal of Kepong Chinese School.[3]

Political career

Lee joined the MCA in 1965, and stood for Selangor State Legislative Assembly constituency of Kepong in the 1969 general election, but lost to Tan Chee Khoon of Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia (Gerakan). In the 1974 general election he contested and won the Rawang state seat, which he retained in the 1978 election. He became head of MCA Youth in 1979, and was also elected vice-president of MCA the same year. He was elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) in the 1982 general election for Ulu Selangor, and was appointed deputy minister in the Prime Minister's Department.[3]

In 1984, in a row over allegation of fictitious membership that supported the Acting President Dr. Neo Yee Pan, he was expelled from MCA along with Tan Koon Swan, Ling Liong Sik and others by the Acting President. In the ensuing party election to resolve the crisis, Tan Koon Swan was elected president with the largest majority in the party's history, and Lee was elected one of the party vice-presidents as well as the secretary general.[4][5] Tan however resigned the next year over a scandal involving his business dealings in Singapore, and Ling Liong Sik took over as President while Lee moved up to become the Deputy President. Lee was appointed Minister of Labour in 1985, and in 1989, he became Minister of Housing and Local Government. He then became the Minister of Health from 1990 until 1995. Lee also successfully won the Hulu Langat federal constituency for two terms consecutively in both the 1986 general election and 1990 general election.

In 1993, he attempted to challenge Ling for the leadership of MCA, but backed down after failing to gain enough support. He retired from politics in 1996.[6]


Lee was outspoken on a number of sensitive issues, such as questioning the Malaysian New Economic Policy and the political dominance of the Malays. In particular, in early November 1986, the Selangor MCA of which he was its head, passed a resolution in its annual convention calling on the government to review the Sedition Act and to make it an offence to refer or call any of the country's three major races as immigrants or pendatang. The resolution, which stated that Malaysia's three major races originated from other countries and that none of them should brand the others as immigrants and claim themselves to be natives.[7] This was interpreted as challenging the bumiputra status of the Malays, which led to calls for his sacking by members of United Malays National Organisation (UMNO),[8] and the withdrawal of his datukship by the Sultan of Selangor (later restored). He also joined a protest rally with the opposition then; Democratic Action Party (DAP) objecting to the appointments of senior assistants and supervisors without qualifications in Mandarin in Chinese primary schools.[9][10] The events precipitated the Operation Lalang in 1987 whereby over a hundred politicians and activists were detained, and Lee left for Australia for a few months.[3][11]


After suffering from a stroke since October 2018, Lee died on 24 November 2019 at 12.30 a.m. at family home in Jalan Setia Bakti, Bukit Damansara, Kuala Lumpur. His remains was buried at Xiao En Memorial Park, Nilai, Negeri Sembilan.[12]

Election results

Selangor State Legislative Assembly
Year Constituency Government Votes Pct Opposition(s) Votes Pct Ballots cast Majority Turnout
1969 Kepong Lee Kim Sai (MCA) N/A N/A Tan Chee Khoon (GERAKAN) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
1974 Rawang Lee Kim Sai (MCA) 3,701 48.72% Tan Heng Swee (DAP) 2,327 30.63% 21,803 6,281 71.88%
J.P. Samuel Raj (PEKEMAS) 847 1.115%
Chou Yew Koh (IND) 722 9.50%
1978 Rawang Lee Kim Sai (MCA) 6,763 60.80% Khoo Chin Tow (DAP) 3,567 32.07% N/A 3,196 N/A
Hussein Ibrahim (PAS) 667 6.00%
Zainuddin Karim (PEKEMAS) 127 1.14%
Parliament of Malaysia[13]
Year Constituency Government Votes Pct Opposition(s) Votes Pct Ballots cast Majority Turnout
1982 Ulu Selangor Lee Kim Sai (MCA) 14,138 48.70% Mohamed Arif Kamaruddin (IND) 6,761 23.29% 30,088 7,377 74.68%
Wong Kim Wah (IND) 5,232 18.02%
Pan Su Peng (DAP) 2,897 9.98%
1986 Hulu Langat Lee Kim Sai (MCA) 22,217 57.38% Lam Man Yoon (DAP) 13,292 34.33% 39,651 8,925 71.37%
Ahamad Kamari (SDP) 3,208 8.29%
1990 Hulu Langat Lee Kim Sai (MCA) 28,714 60.84% Lim Ann Koon (DAP) 18,483 39.16% 48,954 9,691 76.18%


Honour of Malaysia


  1. "Lee:more people suffering from mental illness". New Straits Times. 11 June 1983. Retrieved 27 January 2010.
  2. "Kim Sai: Builders to get grace period". New Straits Times. 4 May 1990. Retrieved 27 January 2010.
  3. Lee Kam Hing (2012). Leo Suryadinata (ed.). Southeast Asian Personalities of Chinese Descent: A Biographical Dictionary. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. pp. 515–517. ISBN 978-9814345217.
  4. "Party History (1980–1989)". Malaysian Chinese Association.
  5. Thomas Lee Seng Hock (2 March 2011). "An impossible dream for the MCA?". My Sinchew.
  6. "Party History (1990–1999)". Malaysian Chinese Association.
  7. Lee Kam Hing (2003). "The Bumiputera Policy: Chinese Views and Perspective" (PDF). Kajian Malaysia. XXI (l&2): 331–361.
  8. "Sack Kim Sai, UMNO Youth tells govt". New Straits Times. 18 October 1987. Retrieved 27 January 2010.
  9. Harold A. Crouch (1996). Government and Society in Malaysia. Cornell University Press. p. 108. ISBN 978-0801483103.
  10. Ting Hui Lee (2011). Chinese Schools in Peninsular Malaysia: The Struggle for Survival. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. pp. 169–171. ASIN B00AACDBJ0.
  11. Ho Kay Tatt, Lee Ah Chai, Kong Chun Meng (28 October 1987). "Kim Sai Goes on Leave". New Straits Times.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  12. "Former minister Lee Kim Sai dies at 82". Bernama. Malay Mail. 24 November 2019. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  13. "Keputusan Pilihan Raya Umum Parlimen/Dewan Undangan Negeri". Election Commission of Malaysia. Retrieved 3 April 2011. Percentage figures based on total turnout.
  14. "Semakan Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat".
  15. "Laman Web Rasmi Darjah Kebesaran Negeri Selangor Darul Ehsan : Y.B. Encik Lee Kim Sai".
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