His was a colourful and illustrious career that spanned many decades, notes the Aliran Executive Committee.
Aliran is saddened to learn of the passing of Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu at the age of 91.
A veteran politician who was active for almost half a century, Tun Dr Lim had a colourful and illustrious career that spanned many decades. He left an indelible mark on the socio-economic and political scene of Penang. Under his leadership, the state’s rapid growth and vibrant industrialisation revived Penang’s economy and gave serious meaning to the motto Penang Leads. The Penang Free Trade Zone, now renamed the Free Industrial Zone, and the Penang Bridge which connected the two parts of the state, will remain fitting tributes to the memory of this outstanding politician.
When campaigning for the 1969 General Election, Tun Dr Lim spoke at the Esplanade with other Gerakan leaders. Then he shared his vision of developing Penang into a dynamic state with the expansion of industrialisation and creation of jobs. He promised to create 90,000 jobs if returned to power. The vast majority of the voters who eagerly attended this gigantic rally were sceptical that such an enormous target could be attained. Looking back, we now know that Tun Dr Lim surpassed his target. His successful economic transformation of Penang turned the state into a leading centre of global electronic manufacturing that paved the way for Malaysia’s industrialisation.
The high point in his political career must surely be when the newly-formed Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia captured Penang in 1969 which allowed Tun Dr Lim to be the Chief Minister. He went on to hold the post for 21 years. Although his political career ended with his defeat by Lim Kit Siang in 1990, Tun Dr Lim’s record as Chief Minister has been unrivalled.
Gerakan threw up many magnificent leaders like the late Professor Syed Hussein Alatas, Dr Tan Chee Khoon, V David, Tan Phock Kin, Veerappan, Mustapha Hussein, and Professor Wang Gungwu. The party’s founding came at a time of great promise and expectations. The Alliance found a formidable match in Gerakan and there was a real possibility for change. There was genuine potential for the emergence of a two-party system.
In the May 1969 election, the Alliance lost its two-thirds’ majority in parliament for the first time. In fact, the Alliance failed to win the majority of state legislative assembly seats in Kelantan, Perak, Selangor, and Penang. Sadly, the ethnic violence erupted on May 13, three days after polling, and changed the course of our history. Sad, too, was the division within Gerakan that led to the departure of several prominent leaders when Tun Dr Lim took the party into the Barisan Nasional coalition which Tun Abdul Razak constructed with the participation of most other opposition parties, including Pas, SUPP and PPP.
Notwithstanding that development which frustrated many hopes of a reformed political system, Tun Dr Lim will be remembered as a dynamic leader who held his ground against his critics, including those within the Barisan Nasional, such being his fortitude and much respected stature. To that degree, Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu’s Penang was never a brow-beaten but proud and admired state within Malaysia.
The Executive Committee and members of Aliran sincerely offer their condolences to Toh Puan Goh Sing Yeng and members of Tun Dr Lim’s family.
May he rest in peace.
Aliran Executive Committee
30 November 2010