Lee Ah Kim was born in China in a poor family. He was forced by the Kuomintang to join the army at 16 years old. He tried to escape, but only managed to do so on the fourth attempt. After the escape, he came to Penang island by boat, stayed in George Town and worked with his brother as a construction worker. He chose to go to Singapore and Indonesia to work because he could get higher salaries there. After that, he began to have some awareness about workers’ rights and anti-colonialist sentiments. He participated in an underground organization to fight against the British colonialists. He formed the Parti Rakyat Georgetown branch in 1955 to openly recruit members. He also shared about his experience of sending communists to the jungle. In 1962, he was arrested under the Emergency Ordinance and sent to the Batu Gajah detention camp where he was kept for two years.