Lim Chong Eu

Lim Chong Eu (simplified Chinese: 林苍祐; traditional Chinese: 林蒼祐; pinyin: Lín Cāngyòu; 28 May 1919 – 24 November 2010)[1] was a Malaysian politician who served as the second Chief Minister of Penang for a record 21 years. He was also the founding president of Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia (Gerakan). He was termed the "Architect of Modern Penang".

Lim Chong Eu
Lim Chong Eu (on the left, being hoisted) alongside Syed Hussein Alatas (bearded) during Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia's victory in the 1969 Malaysian general election.
2nd Chief Minister of Penang
In office
19 May 1969  25 October 1990
Preceded byWong Pow Nee
Succeeded byKoh Tsu Koon
2nd President of Malayan Chinese Association (MCA)
In office
March 1958  July 1959
Preceded byTan Cheng Lock
Succeeded byCheah Toon Lok (acting)
Tan Siew Sin
2nd President of Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia (Gerakan)
In office
Preceded bySyed Hussein Alatas
Succeeded byLim Keng Yaik
Personal details
Lim Chong Eu

28 May 1919
Penang, Straits Settlements
Died24 November 2010(2010-11-24) (aged 91)
Tanjung Bungah, Penang, Malaysia
Political partyGerakan (1968–1990)
United Democratic Party (1962–1968)
MCA (1952–1962)
Radical Party (1951–1952)
ResidenceTanjung Bungah, Malaysia
OccupationMedical doctor

Early life

Lim was born in 1919 in Penang. He attended school at the Penang Free School, where he was the King's Scholar in 1937. He later obtained a degree in medicine and surgery from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland in 1944.

Political career

In 1951, he was appointed to the Penang Local Council and in 1955, was appointed a member of the Federal Legislature.

In the March 1958 Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) party elections, he challenged Tun Tan Cheng Lock and won the presidency with a majority of 22 votes.

During the one-year period when the MCA was under Lim, the party came under tremendous pressure from within and outside. After his victory, he called an extraordinary general meeting to amend the Constitution to consolidate the power of the Central Committee. This was met with strong resistance by Tun Tan Siew Sin and his supporters. Although the proposal was passed with a single-vote majority, the move left the Party split.

At the same time, the MCA under Lim also had severe political differences with the then Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman. The crisis worsened on the eve of the 1959 general elections when Lim demanded 40 parliamentary seats and also wanted to make Chinese an official language. The Tunku increased the seats allocated to MCA from 28 to 31 but this was rejected and their relationship worsened.

Tunku Abdul Rahman rejected Lim's demands, prompting Lim to resign as president of MCA and he left for England for a vacation.[2] Dr Cheah Toon Lock then became the Acting President of MCA. Lim returned to Malaya after a few years and formed a new party, the United Democratic Party, in 1962.

He was one of the founding members of the Opposition Party Gerakan before the 1969 General Election. The formation of the Gerakan party threw the Chinese Malaysian aggregate into a dilemma, weakened their political strength and above all, eroded the political representation of the MCA as the only party for the Chinese community. Gerakan joined the ruling Barisan Nasional after winning the Penang State Government in 1969.

Chief Minister of Penang

Lim served as Chief Minister of Penang from 1969 to 1990. The iconic projects that emerged during Lim's rule included the 66-storey KOMTAR administrative tower and commercial complex, and the 13.5 km Penang Bridge. When it was topped-off, KOMTAR was for some time the tallest building in Asia, and the Penang Bridge one of the longest in the world. Lim is best known for overseeing the emergence of Penang's Free Trade Zone (FTZ) – later renamed Free Industrial Zone – which evolved into one of Asia's most powerful electronics hubs.

In the Malaysian General Elections of October 1990, a crisis occurred when Lim, serving as the chief minister, lost his state seat and Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia (Gerakan) had fewer seats than UMNO in the Penang State Assembly. A crisis was averted when Tun Dr Lim Keng Yaik, the then president of Gerakan, was able to convince the then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to allow an ethnic Chinese to continue on in the role of the Chief Minister.

Retirement and death

Lim had retired from politics and was concentrating on business. He was at the time chairman and advisor for several large corporations. In 2007, Lim was named founding chancellor of Wawasan Open University.[3]

In late October 2010, he was admitted to the Penang Hospital after suffering a stroke. He later died on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at his home in Hillside, Tanjung Bungah at about 9 pm.[4] On Thursday, 25 November 2010, he was given a state funeral. The Penang state flag was flown at half-mast from 25 to 28 November for 4 days as a mark of respect. His body was cremated at Batu Gantung Crematorium on Sunday, 28 November 2010.


Honour of Malaysia

Places named after him

The 17.84 km Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway (highway ) comprising Jelutong Expressway and Bayan Lepas Expressway was renamed after him on 7 December 2010.[6][7]

Other memorials included Bangunan Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu, a main headquarters of the Penang Development Corporation (PDC) located at Persiaran Mahsuri, Bayan Lepas.


Political offices
Preceded by
Tan Cheng Lock
Malayan Chinese Association (MCA) President
March 1958 – July 1959
Succeeded by
Cheah Toon Lok (Acting)
Tan Siew Sin
Preceded by
Syed Hussein Alatas
President of Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia (Gerakan)
1969 – 1980
Succeeded by
Lim Keng Yaik
Preceded by
Wong Pow Nee
Chief Ministers of Penang
Succeeded by
Koh Tsu Koon
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