Reflections by friends and family offered insights into the private and public life of the late Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu during the tribute organised by Wawasan Open University and Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia at the main campus
Speaking at ‘The Life and Legacy of the late Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu: A Tribute by Malaysians’, former Penang Development Corporation (PDC) general manager and WOU Council Deputy Chairman Dato’ Seri Chet Singh described Tun Lim as a man with the “vision, boldness and drive to make things happen. But most importantly he dared to dream of a great future for the state of Penang and its people.”
He shared that Tun Lim had no “personal agenda, no politicising of issues” and “kept politics and administration separate”. He said Tun Lim possessed the charisma to inspire young people working with him to reach greater heights of performance, and “his advice to us was to understand and appreciate the big picture”.
He added, “For him it was not good enough to react to situations. You have to be proactive, and he said you must always be two or three steps ahead of your competition, otherwise we’ll never make any progress for the state of Penang.” He said Tun Lim “empowered those who worked with him to act on our own initiative to implement his vision”, informing that Tun Lim was “a man for detail and that whatever he did, he did for the people of Penang because he loved Penang and he was truly a son of Penang and for him, Penang was the best.”
Meanwhile WOU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Wong Tat Meng said Tun Lim had a voracious appetite for reading. “Not only had he read all the books in the Penang Free School Library as a school boy, he had also read all the books in the Penang Library, according to some friends twice, during his term of office as Chief Minister of Penang”. He noted, “As Chancellor, Tun Lim brought prestige to our University as he was held in high regard by all our overseas partners as well as the local business community.”
Gerakan National President Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon described Tun Lim as a founding father of the nation, Gerakan and the Barisan Nasional, the Father of Modern Penang, the Father of Malaysia’s Industrialisation and a great teacher.
Among the attributes of Tun Lim voiced by Dr Koh was as “a man of strong conviction, capability and charisma, courage and commitment” due to his leadership in MCA and the Alliance. He said Tun Lim’s conviction as a Malaysian was unwavering as “being a Malaysian does not mean one is less of a Malay, a Chinese, an Indian, a Kadazan, a Murut, a Dayak, an Iban and so on.”
Dr Koh continued, “He often told us not to over-react, just do the right thing for the people, and move on to the next agenda.” He said Tun Lim had a “strategic and analytical, yet flexible mind, with a good grasp of history” and “always looked at the big picture, the broader perspective” while attending to the details.
“Tributes and testimonials, analyses and anecdotes such as those presented today, if properly compiled, would serve as good sources of reference and inspiration for present and future leaders to face challenges, and to make a difference to the people and the nation, as Dr Lim Chong Eu did. So, let all of us, especially Gerakan members, get re-charged by the memory of his work, his sense of destiny and determination, to move on to realise a better tomorrow for all Malaysians,” he said.
Tun Lim’s son, Chien Cheng, responded with nearly an hour-long sharing on his father, and the legacy left behind. He said his family is very proud to have his father acknowledged as “a man of integrity, a nationalist who opted for political stability in the formation of the Barisan Nasional, who developed Penang specifically Komtar and Penang bridge, who played a role in industrialisation of Penang and Malaysia”. He reflected, “He’s a vast man, great intellect, and I miss the discourses we had.”
Chien Cheng told, “The political speeches which reflects his thinking and his political positions are carefully filed and form a record of his views and his political positions for all posterity.” He then read out chosen excerpts of a few of his father’s speeches delivered in the 1970s extracted from a 1989 publication, adding “the greatest tribute you can give to my father will be to study and analyse his speeches, and decide whether they are still relevant to you with regards to the politics of today.” He said his father “strived to make it meaningful for each of us to be a Malaysian”.
Later Dr Koh and Chien Cheng unveiled a portrait of Tun Lim drawn by freelance artist Goh Mai Loon. Earlier there were two song performances dedicated to Tun Lim by a 14-member group of Penang Musicians and sharing by a panel of three former members of UDP who are now in Gerakan.
Among those who attended the tribute event were Wawaan Education Foundation chairman Dato’ Seri Stephen Yeap and Datin Irene, Gerakan national central committee members including Dato’ Dr Teng Hock Nan and Dato’ Seri Chia Kwang Chye, and the state chiefs of Penang Umno, MCA, MIC and PPP.