KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 22 – Former Gerakan president Tun Dr Lim Keng Yaik, 73, died this afternoon at his Petaling Jaya home.
"Yes, he passed away peacefully at 5.13pm at home," incumbent party president Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon told The Malaysian Insider in a text message.
Gerakan members announced the outspoken former minister's death over Twitter today.
The cause of his death is not immediately known.
Lee Hui Seng, a Selangor Gerakan leader, told The Malaysian Insider that Dr Lim (picture) "was ill for some time."
But Dr Lim’s son, Lim Si Pin has also inherited a fervour for politics and is currently the torchbearer for the party’s youth wing.
Born in Perak on April 8, 1939, Dr Lim was known to be a plain-speaking politician who had helmed Gerakan for 27 years, from 1980 to April 8, 2007 when he stepped down to make way for Koh.
Less known was that he first joined politics as an MCA member and had run in Perak's Pekan Baru state seat in 1969 under the Alliance – the predecessor to the current ruling Barisan Nasional coalition – which he lost.
In 1971, he became Perak MCA chairman and was appointed to the Dewan Negara as senator.
Dr Lim has had a long career as a federal minister spanning nearly three decades.
He was first picked to join the Cabinet in 1972, when he was made minister with special functions tasked with overseeing the New Villages and Emergency work.
But the following year, he quit the post in protest against the expulsion of the MCA reform movement leaders at the time and was kicked out of MCA for reportedly going against then-MCA president Tun Tan Siew Sin.
He entered Gerakan in 1973 but returned to serve in the Cabinet only in 1986, when he was appointed Minister of Primary Industries, a post he held until 2004, when his portfolio was switched.
He took over as Minister of Energy, Water and Communications until February 13, 2008, quitting the post just shortly before the landmark 12th general elections.