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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Hightway, a tribute to him, holds many important lessons for Malaysians

Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway, Penang 
Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway
Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway (23 April 2009)
© Timothy Tye using this photo

Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway (Federal Route 3113) is a 17.84 km expressway that runs along the eastern coast of Penang Island. It starts at the junction with Prangin Road Ghaut, across from Weld Quay, and ends in Batu Maung, at the junction with Jalan Batu Maung and Jalan Permatang Damar Laut. The expressway includes the entire lengths of the former Jelutong Expressway and Bayan Lepas Expressway.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng announced the renaming of the expressway in honour of Dr Lim Chong Eu, the second Chief Minister of Penang who passed away on Wednesday, 24 November, 2010. The renaming of the expressway is meaningful to many Penangites as a tribute to the man who personally ushered the state into becoming one of the most developed in the country.

This the full name is quite a mouthful, I will henceforth call it the Chong Eu Expressway. This is the second road in Penang named after the Lim family, as Tun Dr Lim's father had his name immortalized when Prangin Road was renamed Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong.

The Penang Brige and Bayan Lepas Penang from the air:


A Tribute to Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu, Holds Many Important Lessons for Malaysians

His personal journey from wealthy Penang scion, to doctor, Independence activist, politician and statesman, holds many important lessons for Malaysians on both sides of the political divide.

WE lose something as a nation when our great men and women pass away. The late Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu – Penang’s Chief Minister for over 20 years – was a remarkable leader and a great Malaysian.

Dr Lim’s personal journey from wealthy Penang scion, to doctor, Independence activist, politician and statesman, holds many important lessons for Malaysians on both sides of the political divide.

Foremost was his intellectual prowess.

Dr Lim excelled as a student.

Notwithstanding his privileged background, he distinguished himself by securing a prestigious Queen’s Scholarship to read medicine at Edinburgh University.

Many Malaysians, in their haste to be egalitarian, have tended to down-play the importance of educational excellence for politicians.

This aggressively anti-elitist stance is both foolish and dangerous.

An elite dominated by the anti-intellectual or poorly-educated is clearly ill-equipped to formulate and execute policies in a complex and ever-changing global environment.

Next, Dr Lim’s leadership of Gerakan to victory in Penang during the 1969 general election was to thrust him back into the very heart of national politics, at a time when Malaysia was at its lowest ebb.

Indeed, the creation of Gerakan itself was a remarkable achievement.

The party rejected racial politics, instead seeking to combine social democracy with liberalism.

It brought together an eclectic group of activists, ranging from academics (Syed Hussain Alatas and Wang Gungwu), trade unionists (V. David and V. Veerapan) and politicians (Tan Chee Khoon, Dominic Puthucheary and Lim Ee Heong).

Despite its current weakened state, it was – until the rise of PKR – one of the most successful multi-racial parties in Malaysia’s history.

One can only imagine what Dr Lim must have been thinking in May 1969 as he observed Malaysia descend into chaos. He was clearly shaken by the riots and killings.

Perhaps inevitably – given his background – he found himself more comfortable with the Alliance’s conservative milieu. He hence brought his party into the embrace of the much-weakened Alliance, later to be reincarnated as Barisan Nasional.

It was a historic, much-criticised decision, but he stood firm. Moreover, having chosen to side with Barisan, he remained loyal to the end.

As Malaysia emerged from the trauma of 1969, Dr Lim quickly grasped the challenges facing Penang.

The removal of the island’s free-port status and the closing down of British military bases were seen as death blows to its prosperity.

However, Dr Lim was creative and resourceful. Having made peace with the Federal Government, he crafted and implemented policies (often via the Penang Development Corporation) that were to attract scores of global electronic companies to the island.

He could be dictatorial but he certainly delivered on his promises.

He modernised the island-state, turning it into an industrial hub that was to generate hundreds of thousands of jobs for its people.

These achievements were all the more remarkable considering that he had to stand up to strong opposition from within and outside Barisan.

On one hand, he had to battle DAP supremos like Karpal Singh and Lim Kit Siang, and on the other, he had to manage Penang Umno with emerging nationalist voices like Anwar Ibrahim.

However, as many have pointed out, one of Dr Lim’s mistakes was that he compromised too much vis-a-vis Gerakan’s position in Barisan. This in turn sowed the seeds of the party’s collapse in the 2008 polls.

But one thing which cannot be taken away from him was his loyalty to his state, to Gerakan and the coalition.

He never once spoke ill of his successors or Barisan colleagues.

Indeed, his silence and forbearance after he lost power was a mark of his humility and dignity.

He understood that the younger generation of leaders had to be allowed to make their own mistakes and learn from them.

Dr Lim’s distinguished political career is an important reminder that politics is fluid and impermanent.

In 1990, after decades of hard work, he was swept away by an unexpected groundswell.

To Barisan Nasional, he is a symbol of its lost multi-racial and service-bound past; something they must regain to win back Penang and the nation in the next elections.

For Pakatan Rakyat – especially the DAP which currently governs Penang – he is a reminder they must bridge the divide with the Federal Government while managing their own, sometimes fractious, allies.

Nonetheless, Penangites are determined and inventive.

Even without federal funds, they’ll craft an alternative future that will no doubt be as ground-breaking as Tun Dr Lim’s prescriptions were all those decades ago – all testament to his dedication, perseverance and brilliance.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Guess Hu’s number one ?

Chinese president Hu Jin Tao tops Obama as the most influential man, according to Forbes’ list.

A Different Spin Ben Ibrahim

The World's Most Powerful People:
View complete list
WHILE presenting a morning talk show with my colleague Shah, I asked my co-host if he knew who the Forbes’ most influential man was? He was not quite sure at that time, as it was not yet announced, he just asked: “Who?”

I responded in a pun tone, as the news was also just being communicated to me via my earpiece, and said “Who you might ask, well it’s Mr Hu (pronounced WHO at that time on air) Jin Tao.”

At the beginning of the month, Chinese President Hu Jintao topped the Forbes magazine list of the world’s most powerful people.

Making this achievement even more memorable was the fact that he dethroned US President Barack Obama who slipped to second spot.

Once upon a time I wouldn’t have thought that an Asian leader would be the cream of the crop or the top of the pick.

When I was growing up it was all about how Bill Clinton did this and how Ronald Reagan achieved that and how hard Tony Blair worked towards finding peace in the Middle East.

Then, when Barack Obama became the first African-American President; my theory that the West was more progressive than the East, was almost a foregone conclusion.

But Hu Jintao has given us Asians something good to feel about and confidence that an Asian leader can achieve great things.

I remember a story once told to me by my good friend Thomas when he was studying in the United States that he had to act like the stereotypical Chinaman to get things done.

Stereotypes like speaking broken English, laughing like the typical loud Chinaman who did not know any better, and being perpetually bullied by the egocentric Western bigot.

Thomas would always say that he hated it, but it got things done without having to offend anybody.

How the times are changing as many Western entrepreneurs are trying to tap the Chinese business market and are now trying to kow tow to Chinese businessmen. I love change!

While I am writing this article with a bit of laughter, as these rankings are usually a bit subjective, I am sure many of you are wondering if it is fair to compare leadership efficiency of both leaders as both the United States and China have very different ways of doing things.

Well, according to the Forbes magazine, they used four criteria to define power – whether the person has influence over a lot of people, whether they have significant wealth compared to their peers, whether they are powerful in more than one sphere and whether they actively wield power.

Based on these criteria, let’s analyse this carefully – Hu presides over 1.3 billion people, one fifth of the world’s population, and over one of the globe’s largest army.

Under his leadership, China has become the second biggest economy.

He has managed to increase the purchasing power of the average Chinese citizen and he has also managed to censor the Internet.

While I disagree with his censorship of the Net, I have to salute the man overall as he managed to bring change which is usually the biggest obstacle and hurdle of any leader.

If we are to analyse Obama’s leadership effectiveness, his key result indicators are not so positive.

Twenty four months ago, he came in with his big slogan “Yes, We can” and promised America how he can bring change to the land of the free and the home of the brave.

While I can’t fault the man for his efforts and endeavours, we have to measure him by his results. Under his leadership, his Democratic Party suffered a big blow in the US midterm elections, with the president losing support of the House of Representatives and barely holding onto the Senate.

He was also heavily criticised by the US media for being too slow, a sentiment that some say was shared by his former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, even though this statement is not substantiated.

However, Obama can still boast that he remains the leader of the world’s largest economy and is commander-in-chief of the world largest and deadliest military. Afghanistan can vouch for that!

To also illustrate how times are changing, once upon a time the world used to dance to the tune of the US currency exchange rate. Now, many economists around the world are trying to predict if China will adjust its currency peg.

The Americans have failed at trying to get China to revalue the yuan and are now trying to pass a Congressional bill that would impose taxes on Chinese goods, in order to compensate for China’s undervalued currency.

Well folks, times have changed and are still changing.

Even though some would say Hu Jintao is a draconian dictator, he still manages to bring change to the world’s biggest country and he managed to relegate the head of the developed world to the silver medal spot.

I would have never thought that this would be possible, but as we live in a very complex world, stranger things will continue to happen, and let’s hope for the better.

In the recent report that announced the magazine’s “most powerful list”, Forbes described Hu Jintao as a Moses-type character. They said: “Unlike his Western counterparts, Hu can divert rivers, build cities, jail dissidents and censor the Internet without the meddling from pesky bureaucrats and courts.”

Judging by how well the Chinese economy is progressing, it may also seem that Hu Jintao is the better businessman. Maybe due to the fact that he knows how to set a good price for all Chinese goods and services compared to Obama and in my opinion I think he knows how to open an international business discussion better than his American counterpart, and that is by starting the discussion with the words “DISCOUNT DISCOUNT!”

> Ben Ibrahim has a Masters in Management, and works as a TV Presenter. He is also a lecturer, MC and writer. He has hosted a wide variety of shows, and is currently hosting a business program called Entrepreneur, and a daily morning talk show on Bernama TV called The Breakfast Club. For more information about Ben, log onto or

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Farewell, reflect and learn from Dr. Lim Chong Eu, father & founder of modern Penang

Farewell, Dr Lim

On The Beat Wong Chun Wai

Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu will be remembered for turning Penang into a modern state and one that Penangites are fiercely proud of.

WHEN Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu swept into power in the 1969 general election, I was in Standard Two. Yet, I have never forgotten that night when the Gerakan staged their final rally at the Esplanade before polling began the next day.

Perched on the shoulders of my father, I was too young to understand most of what Dr Lim and the other leaders were saying but I knew history was unfolding. Speaker after speaker, they all asked the thousands of listeners to sink the Alliance boat – the symbol of the coalition – in the Feb 10, 1969 election.

I was mesmerised by the oratory skills of Dr Lim and the Gerakan leaders, particularly the late Datuk Lim Ee Hiong who had to reach out to the audience in Hokkien. It left such a deep impression on me that I believe my interest in politics was probably born and fired up there.

For Penangites who grew up in the 1970s, Dr Lim seemed to be the only leader we knew. There was no one else since he held the helm for 21 years. I know very little about his predecessor, the late Tan Sri Wong Pow Nee from the MCA. Wong was a pious Catholic school teacher from Bukit Mertajam who entered politics reluctantly.

I dropped by his home a few times as a boy because one of his sons was a schoolmate. Dressed in his singlet and shorts, he seemed to be tending to his small garden outside his modest Macalister Road home.

In 1980, when I became a cub reporter for six months prior to entering university, Dr Lim was still Chief Minister and was at his most powerful.

I got to cover his weekly press conferences four years later. He believed the press should understand what he was doing but he said little on record. Most times, it was just a few paragraphs for reporting. In journalistic language, they were just fillers – small stories to fill up the holes in a page.

So entrenched was he in his position that he did not really care if the media gave him coverage. After all, he was about to fulfil his promise of building the Penang Bridge.

He had built the low-cost flats in Rifle Range and, through the Penang Development Corporation, more flats were being constructed in other areas. When he took over Penang, unemployment was running at 16% but he created plenty of jobs through the setting up of the Penang Free Trade Zone in Bayan Lepas. The DAP had no match for him.

Dr Lim carried a certain aura with him. None of his Gerakan members could fit into his shoes. The older Penangites would tell you that he was in the same league as Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew. Both of them were academically brilliant apart from being powerful political orators. They were in the same Parliament before Separation.

They were disciplined and visionary. They spoke English with deep voices and had no time for trivial matters. Both did not see the need to be populist to pander to the demands of the people.

After Separation, Lee singularly built up the island republic and transformed a backwater island into a modern city state. Likewise, for Dr Lim, despite leading the Gerakan to victory in Penang, the initial period was not easy. With the island’s free port status revoked, dealing a tremendous blow to the thriving economy, he also had to transform Penang in a different way. His pioneering spirit brought in the multinationals to the Free Trade Zone, effectively beginning the inflow of foreign direct investment into the country.

As former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad put it, “it was as a chief minister that he made foreign direct investment a byword in Malaysia and perhaps in the world”. I don’t remember ever seeing the late Dr Lim, a man concerned with the big picture, pointing his finger at a pot hole or a clogged drain. He did not need that kind of publicity. Neither did he have to fry koay teow or don an ethnic costume at a particular community’s festival. He was always in a bush jacket or in his trademark white short-sleeved shirt.

His biggest political opponent in Penang then was DAP’s Karpal Singh. I witnessed many of their duels in the Penang State Assembly, where Karpal Singh would call him an “old fox” while Dr Lim, sitting on the opposite bench, would close his eyes and smile, seemingly indifferent to the drama.

Later, when Lim Kit Siang launched his series of Tanjung Battles in his bid to capture Penang, Dr Lim’s grip on the island state began to loosen. Kit Siang won the Tanjung parliamentary seat in 1986 by defeating Dr Koh Tsu Koon with over 4,000 votes. He also won the Kampung Kolam state seat. The storm had started. By the time Tanjung Two was launched in 1990, Kit Siang had killed off Dr Lim’s career by wresting Padang Kota with a 706 vote majority. Kit Siang retained his Tanjung parliamentary seat with a majority of over 17,000 votes. The DAP was just short of three seats in forming the state government.

The warning signs were there, with Penangites feeling Dr Lim had overstayed his welcome. Dr Koh, his political secretary, succeeded him as the state’s third Chief Minister.

Suddenly, the towering Komtar was looking like a sore thumb; the beaches were not clean any more; the island lost its shine as the “Pearl of the Orient”; and the state motto “Penang Leads” was no longer used. It is not even remembered now. The slide had worsened. Klang Valley had progressed far ahead of Penang as many Penangites migrated to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

Known to be fiercely independent, the people of Penang lost their patience and eventually rejected the Gerakan-led state government in 2008. They had disposed of Wong, Dr Lim and Dr Koh. There is a lesson for politicians here: Never overstay in Penang.

It must have broken Dr Lim’s heart that Dr Koh could not hold on to Penang anymore after 18 years as a chief minister.

Dr Lim stayed away from the media, turning away numerous requests for interviews, after 1990. Certainly, the gaps in history will remain unanswered because of his refusal to talk. I was told that a university lecturer was engaged to write his memoirs but the project stopped. Another academic who interviewed him told me that there was little useful information given to him.

A few years back, I met Dr Lim at a seafood restaurant in Batu Ferringhi. I walked up to him to greet him and was extremely glad that he could still remember me after I introduced myself. He asked how often I returned to Penang from Kuala Lumpur and whether I would eventually “come home”.

Dr Lim will be remembered for turning Penang into a modern state and one that Penangites are fiercely proud of. He is no longer with us but he will always remain in the hearts and minds of Penangites. Thank you for what you have done for Penang. Farewell, Dr Lim.

Yeo tells of Dr Lim’s S’pore link


GEORGE TOWN: Singapore’s Foreign Minister George Yeo paid tribute to Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu, giving a glimpse of how his family came to Penang.

Yeo said Dr Lim’s father was from the republic but was sent to Penang by his (Dr Lim’s) grandfather.

“Having two sons who were doctors, the grandfather Cheng Sah decided that one should serve in Singapore, and the other (Dr Lim’s father, Chwee Leong), in Penang.

“But the connection (between Penang and Singapore) remains,” he told reporters after paying his last respects at Dewan Sri Pinang here yesterday.

Yeo said Dr Lim went to China to take part in the anti-Japanese war upon graduation from the Edinburgh University in Scotland.

“He got to know leaders like Chiang Kai-shek but decided to return to Penang to be part of the nationalist struggle, although he was asked to stay on in China,” he said.

Describing Dr Lim as “much loved by everyone”, Yeo conveyed the condolences from the Singapore government and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.

Nation’s loss: Muhyiddin expressing his condolences to Dr Lim’s son, Chien Aun after paying his last respects at the Dewan Sri Pinang, Penang yesterday. — Bernama
Chong Eu’s brother Datuk Lim Chong Keat said their late uncle Sir Dr Lim Han Hoe had two sons and two daughters, who have passed away.

Chong Keat said their brother and sister, who both reside in Singapore, and their children were among many Singapore relatives who were here for Chong Eu’s funeral.

Among those who paid their respects yesterday was Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. Other leaders who paid their respects were MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, who led an MIC delegation, Barisan Nasional Wanita chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, who came with 30 members and Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, who was with his deputy Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam.

Dr Lim’s cortege will leave Dewan Sri Pinang at noon today for the Batu Gantong crematorium.

Tun Dr Lim, a local and national leader


The late Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu was known as a giant of Penang, having led the state for 21 years as its Chief Minister, but he was very much a national politician with the country’s well-being at heart.

TUN Dr Lim Chong Eu – if known at all to young Malaysians today – is remembered as a politician who was most active at the state level. He was after all the second Chief Minister of Penang for 21 years, from 1969 to 1990.

However, it is far from true that his politics were not national in character. It was only that the political path that his struggles took him along after he joined politics in 1951 was one that was far from straight or predictable, and not easily described.

He was 71 years old when his electoral loss in 1990 convinced him that it was time to retire. By then, he had been in politics for 40 years.

Towering inspiration: The hearse carrying Lim’s casket passing by the iconic Komtar in Penang yesterday.
Coming from a wealthy Penang family, he showed great promise from the beginning. He performed well at Hutchings School, and moved to Penang Free School in 1932.

When he was awarded the coveted Queen’s Scholarship in 1937, the Straits Times informed its readers that the 18-year-old was a “keen sportsman and cadet, holding the rank of second-lieutenant in the Free School Corps, a ‘crack rifle shot’, and was interested in history and geography”.

Following in his father’s footsteps, he studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, and when the war broke out, he served with allied troops in China as medical officer to General Chen Chen, who later became the vice-president of the Republic of China.

After the war, Dr Lim competed regularly in tennis tournaments.

When the first municipal elections took place in Malaya in 1951, we see Dr Lim leading his first political party, the Fabian-inspired Penang Radical Party, to victory in George Town. He was thus at the forefront of Penang – and national – electoral politics from the word “Go”.

In 1953, Dr Lim was the only Chinese fielded by the Radical Party, and this was in the Malay-majority seat of Jelutong. He lost badly. The Umno-MCA alliance won in all the three contested Penang municipal seats. Communal-based politics seemed to have found a formula that could gain support, at least for the time being.

Departure: Members of the Malaysian Buddhist Association praying while pall bearers drape the Jalur Gemilang over Lim’s casket.
Dr Lim told his party members in June the following year: “We believe the present stage of limited election should not be considered to be the ultimate one nor even the beginning of the final phase, but merely one which will give the people of Malaya the chance to learn the principles and practice of what living democracy means and therefore the more the people get this experience, no matter under what conditions, the safer are the chances that a self-governing Malaya will be democratic”.

He did not seem to have considered this learning process to be a long one, though.

In July that year, at a well-attended public debate, he proposed a motion for immediate self-rule for Malaya. He argued that the idea that Malaya was not ready for self-government was “antiquated”

“We are rich not only in natural resources but also in population potential. And we have also a high percentage of literacy”.

Apparently courted by MCA president Tan Cheng Lock, Dr Lim soon joined the MCA, and in April 1955, as Penang Settlement councillor, he moved successfully for Malay to become the council’s joint official language, together with English.

In July that year, he was made Federal Legislative Councilor. The following month, Dr Lim, now head of Penang Alliance, managed to push through a motion in the Penang Settlement Council calling for George Town to have a fully-elected Municipal Council headed by an elected mayor.

On the eve of Independence in August 1957, a key issue for Penang was who should be governor and who should be chief minister. There seemed to be a consensus that one should be Malay and the other a Chinese.
In the event, the governor was Malay, and the first choice for chief minister was Dr Lim, but he declined, citing “personal reasons”.

His father, Dr Lim Chwee Leong had died in May 1957, and being a Confucian, his son, following tradition, did not wish to take high office while in mourning.

Dr Lim also denied that he was holding out because he was aiming for a higher office at the national level.
Splits within the MCA, ostensibly between an Alliance group, a pro-Chinese group and a moderate group wishing to balance the two, saw Dr Lim leading the moderates in a challenge against long-time party president Tan Cheng-Lock.

On March 23,1958, Dr Lim succeeded in displacing Tan with a victory margin of 22 votes.

In 1959, Terengganu state elections were won by the Islamist PAS. This caused worry among non-Malays, and helped fuel the MCA’s wish to field candidates in a third of the parliamentary seats that were to be contested. In a historic showdown with Tunku Abdul Rahman, Dr Lim lost and soon resigned from the party.
He was back in the thick of things in 1962 with a new party, the United Democratic Party.

The formation of the Federation of Malaysia through merger with Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak was now in motion, and his attempt to create a united non-communal opposition to the Alliance stumbled on that very issue.

Despite the UDP’s strength in municipal elections, it managed in the 1964 general elections to win only one parliamentary seat – Dr Lim’s.

The poor showing by the non-communal parties in 1964, including Singapore’s People’s Action Party, saw them coming together as the Malaysian Solidarity Council in July 1965.

This had only one general meeting before Singapore separated from the federation under tense conditions.
By 1968, Lim’s non-communal movement had taken the form of the Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia.

Times had changed, and for the first time since independence, the country was not under any serious security threat. The Gerakan enjoyed immediate success, and won solidly in Penang in the 1969 general elections.

Dr Lim became Penang’s chief minister, a position he had refused 12 years earlier.

The racial riots that broke out in Kuala Lumpur on the evening of May 13 that year radically changed the political scenario in Malaysia. Discussions were held between the wounded Alliance and major opposition parties like the Gerakan, the People’s Progressive Party and the Islamist PAS to form an expanded federal coalition. These were successful.

By 1973, Dr Lim was once again the leader of a party within the federal coalition. The compromises he made following the riots made it possible for him and his administration to industrialise Penang and end its economic stagnation.

Along the way, however, especially after his retirement in 1990, his party, once a promising voice of non-communalism, lost its ability to inspire.

In Dr Lim’s long life, we see a good example of how national politics is local, and how local politics is national. We also see how the major dimensions in Malaysian history – communalism versus non-communalism, centralism versus local democracy, personality versus personality – played themselves out.

> The writer is a senior fellow at the Institute of South-East Asian Studies. His latest book on Malaysia is Between Umno and a Hard Place: The Najib Razak Era Begins (Refsa & ISEAS).

Nothing missed his eye
Goh Ban Lee

Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu ... commanded
Dr Lim Chong Eu died on Wednesday leaving behind his wife, two daughters and two sons.
Most Malaysians know Lim as the man who presided over Penang’s remarkable transformation from an agricultural and fishing area and a decaying trading centre into the home of renowned multinational corporations producing not only electronic and electrical products but also textile and pharmaceuticals. What is generally not known was how he did it.

To put it in context, it was not the best time to be the chief minister of Penang in 1969. Besides the difficulties in the aftermath of the riots following the general election, Penang was in serious economic trouble. It was losing its status as the trading centre in this part of the world. The federal government was also keen to take away the free port status of Penang Island. Unemployment rates were around 16%.

I first met Lim in 1972 when a delegation of student union leaders from Universiti Sains Malaysia paid him a courtesy call in Bangunan Tuanku Syed Putra, the eight-storey building which was the seat of the state government. Instead of the usual fatherly advice to study hard, the discussion was on the development of Penang, especially in solving the unemployment problems.

One of the specific ideas he had was the introduction of a job training scheme for youths who could not get jobs. The trainees would be paid an allowance, but they would have to work a few hours a day as parking attendants. It was no accident that Penang was the first state to set up a skills development centre in the form of the Penang Skills Development Centre (PSDC) in 1989.

Following the recommendations of the Penang Master Plan of 1970, popularly known as the Robert Nathan Report, Lim was focused in linking Penang’s economy with the developed economies in the world. He went to America, especially California, to knock on the doors of the electronic multinationals, telling them about Penang. 

It was not an easy task. It should be remembered that at that time, few people in California knew about this small island in Southeast Asia and the capability and ability of its workers. To convince the investors of the ability of the people, the government, through the newly established Penang Development Corporation (PDC), set up the pioneering Penang Electronics Sdn Bhd.

He acquired large tracts of land both in the island and the mainland to build industrial estates and townships. Land acquisition was neither popular nor easy, but he did it. Sometimes government leaders need to make difficult decisions if they want to get things done.

Lim also restructured the government machinery to ensure that when the investors came, there were no obstacles along the way. He set up the State Planning and Development Committee (SPDC) with himself as the chairman. This committee played a major and crucial role in the implementation of development projects, especially those by the private sector. As Lim was also the Officer Administrating of all the five local authorities in Penang from 1969 to 1974, all decisions related to applications for permission to undertake land development were made in the SPDC.

As a graduate student interested in the development planning, Lim was kind enough to allow me the privilege of sitting (quietly) in the SPDC meetings as an observer.

Looking back to those days, it was certainly a learning experience to witness Lim making decisions. The officers of the local authorities, including Ong Swee Teik, the late Raymond Tong, Teh Theam Seng and Choo Ewe Guan had to carry piles of files and maps to the Bangunan Tuanku Syed Putra for the meetings. They explained the applications and their implications on Penang. After a few questions, Lim would make the decisions, some with conditions. 

About 17 years later, as a councillor in the Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP) I was a member of the Planning and Building Committee that approved applications to undertake development projects. The contrast in the decision making process between this committee and the SPDC under Lim could not be bigger. While the SPDC made the decisions promptly, for one reason or another there were delays in the MPPP committee.

Had the early days of industrialisation and development endured the process of 13 councillors and a president or the 20 or so One-Stop-Centre (OSC) members making decisions to approve projects, it is doubtful Penang would have succeeded in the transformation from a sleepy trading centre into an international manufacturing hub. 

As a research fellow in the Centre for Policy Research in USM, I continued to meet Lim occasionally and attended some of the meetings chaired by him in state government or the PDC. In all the meetings, it was clear that Lim was in total command and focused. Government officers who attended the meetings were expected to know their stuff. It was well known that Lim would visit the sites of the agenda a few days before the meeting. Occasionally, he would ask the officers to name the coffee shops or explain some unique features of the area under discussion. There was little room for postponing decision-making because the officers were not prepared.

It is also useful to note that in meetings chaired by Lim, no officers would come late. Somehow few had the urge to go to the toilets or to have a smoke in the corridors. In fact, it was full attention and no whispering with each other. There were no hand phones then, but if there were, it is doubtful if anyone would have dared to answer phone calls or read and answer text messages. Such was the respect for Lim. Indeed, for many officers, especially those who were later transferred to other states, serving under Lim was a badge of honour they proudly displayed.

For those who are now pushing for elected local government in Penang, it may be of interest to note that Lim was directly involved in this about 60 years ago. He was appointed a member of the Penang Municipal Elections Committee which recommended that "the principle of election of Municipal Commissioners be established".

In the past few years, I met Lim occasionally at airports or social gatherings. His memories of the personalities and events of Penang were marvellous. But despite my persuasion, he said he would not write a memoir although he did say that he had left an oral history in a university. 

Penang would not get to be what it is today without Lim as the chief minister for 21 years. Hopefully, a biography of him and his efforts in the most exciting period in the development of Penang so far will be written soon.

Datuk Dr Goh Ban Lee is a columnist for theSun and a senior research fellow in Seri, Penang.

Updated: 11:12AM Fri, 26 Nov 2010

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mergers spice up the property sector,benefits for buyers


THE property sector has not witnessed more invigorating times than that seen in recent weeks, with the spate of mergers that promises to build large companies with huge market value and even larger land banks.

Starting the siren of mergers in the sector were UEM Land Bhd and Sunrise Bhd, to be followed by Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd and IJM Land Bhd, and Sunrise City Bhd and Sunway Holdings Bhd. The latter two were announced just over the week.

These will result in the creation of three property companies with over US$1bil in market capitalisation each.

In fact, the merged entities of UEM Land-Sunrise (RM9.8bil) and IJM Land-MRCB (RM7.2bil) will have higher capitalisations then property bellwhether SP Setia Bhd (RM5.2bil).

Why the deluge of M&A activities in the sector? Analysts attribute it to a combination of reasons, .

In the cases of Sunrise-UEM Land and MRCB-IJM Land, it is hoped that through these mergers, the government-linked companies (GLCs) can move forward to stamp their mark as regional champions.

What better way is there then to merge with companies which have strong branding, sound delivery and impressive track record? asks an observer.

A Light Rail Transit train passes a construction site in Kuala Lumpur. Potential takeover targets are companies with large land bank in KL. — AFP
Another reason for the current consolidation could be players trying to get a bigger slice of land redevelopment projects created by the proposed mass rapid transit (MRT) system.

CIMB research head Terence Wong says the mergers between the GLCs and private companies show that there is a significant push for execution and performance.

From my conversations with property developers over the last two weeks, I have the impression that there is now a greater urgency for M&As. The formation of two large companies from the mergers of UEM Land-Sunrise and IJM Land-MRCB would pose a threat to other smaller companies in that the former will have more resources and liquidity, says Wong.

Terence Wong ... ‘The formation of large companies would post a threat to other smaller companies.’
Another benefit for these entities which on a stand-alone basis were not too appealing to foreign investors given their size (or lack of it), would post-merger have the economies of scale to draw these investors' attention, says Prudential Fund Management Bhd fund manager Lee Hwa Seng.

The bigger size of these companies will make them more investable to foreign investors. These companies will now be able to compete with their regional counterparts, he says.

Indeed, as MIDF-Amanah CEO Scott Lim says, Malaysian corporates are entering an interesting phase in the market. For the first time, GLCs are actively looking for expertise from the private sector to ready themselves for the next phase of development.

In Malaysia, all major land banks are government-owned. The reason why private sector companies such as Sunrise and IJM Land are roped in, is because they have the branding and expertise. Hence, what you're seeing now is not just the making of bigger companies, but stronger ones, says Lim.

Lee concurs: If a property company has a good track record but is a small player, it may not be good enough as the company does not have the balance sheet to acquire landbank. On the other hand, what the GLCs may lack in expertise or branding, they make up in landbank and government funds. So the public-private partnership is a formula that should work.

Buy land vs companies

HwangDBS Research analyst Yee Mei Hui makes an interesting point. She says it makes sense for GLCs to buy over property companies rather than land as valuations of these companies are still relatively attractive, whereas land prices have appreciated significantly.

Driving home this point is the fact that property counters are trading at an average of 35% discount to their net asset value (NAV). In fact, most of them are also trading at a discount to their net tangible asset.

Almost all property companies that merge can break up their assets and unlock more value out of their existing land bank, says Wong.

Also over the week, YTL Corp Bhd announced a revamp of its property operations under a proposal to inject all its property development assets and projects into YTL Land & Development Bhd. Yee expects the deal to transform YTL Land from an urban renewal developer in Sentul and Sg Besi to a prime city centre developer in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

(YTL Corp has proposed to inject its wholly-owned YTL Westwood Properties Pte Ltd, which owns a parcel of development land at Orchard Boulevard, Singapore and its 70%-owned Lakefront Pte Ltd which owns 13 pieces of land at Sentosa Cove Singapore into YTL Land.)

In Kuala Lumpur, YTL Land owns land in the Kuala Lumpur City Centre, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Jalan U-Thant and Brickfields, which is next to KL Sentral.

So, who's next?

There is expectation that the spate of recent proposed mergers will unleash another slew of merger activities among other industry players to avoid being left behind in the race to be bigger and better. Potential targets, says an analyst, could be those with large prime land bank in Kuala Lumpur with shareholders that hold concentrated stakes. Those who fit these descriptions include Sime Darby Bhd, SP Setia Bhd and other property companies owned by Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB).

Lim expect the M&A phase to accelerate over the next few months.

Presently, PNB is the major shareholder of SP Setia with a 32.9% stake. PNB also owns unlisted property assets I&P Bhd, Petaling Garden Bhd and Pelangi Bhd as well as Sime Darby Property Bhd via its 52% stake in Sime Darby. PNB also has a 22% stake in Mah Sing Bhd.

Currently, Sime Darby has one of the largest landbanks in the country. Its subsidiary Sime Darby Property Bhd owns 3,653 ha of development properties in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur. It also has 5,022 ha of development properties in Australia and China.

A merger between Sime Properties and SP Setia will see an even bigger creation than what we've seen so far, says Lim.

As activity heats up in the sector, the guessing game on who will buy who, no doubt, is set to continue.

Property buyers can benefit from M&As


PROPERTY buyers can hopefully look forward to wider choices, more innovative and quality property products to choose from if the spate of mergers and acquisitions (M&As) involving property companies translate into integration of skills, resources and innovation among industry players.

With more Malaysians turning to property investment these days, it will be welcomed by property buyers if these M&As promote the coming together and fusion of talents and capabilities among industry peers to bring to the market more well-planned and quality projects.

I believe one of the main factors for the sudden urge for developers to want to become part of a bigger entity is the fact that the Federal Government is opening up a number of its prized land bank around Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley for redevelopment.

Among the government-owned prime land in Kuala Lumpur and other parts of the Klang Valley are the 50 acres at Jalan Cochrane; 20-30 acres in Ampang Hilir (near KL city centre); and the 3,300 acres of Rubber Research Institute land in Sungai Buloh. Others comprise smaller parcels in Jalan Stonor, Brickfields, and Bukit Ledang (off Jalan Duta).

Notwithstanding the intense competition for the rights to develop these government-owned land, it is important to ensure optimum benefits for the people and country by upholding the utmost transparency through open tenders in the award of the land for development.

For both the public and industry players, the redevelopment of these land offers a huge opportunity to turn around and inject more vibrancy into the city's property landscape. Most importantly, all the attributes should be in place for Kuala Lumpur to be accepted into the list as one of the most livable metropolis in the world.

Kuala Lumpur and the Greater Klang Valley can certainly do with an efficient and well integrated public transportation system; a clean, green and safe environment; and a lively cultural and performing arts scene which are among the missing links in the city today.

The project planning should not be motivated just by profits, but should be demand-driven, and add value to the living, working and leisure environment.

It is imperative that a thorough and in-depth market study be conducted when drawing up the master plan for the redevelopment programme. In the planning and execution of these projects, input from the public, community groups and industry players should be sought and be given due consideration.

There is certainly a shortage of affordable landed housing (priced between RM200,000 and RM300,000) in the Klang Valley today and ensuring more such projects in the new development plans will be a timely gesture to ease the burden of the common folks.

If the implementation of the enlarged Kuala Lumpur master plan is done with best practices and attention to details, the people will be able to enjoy a more holistic and vibrant city. It will also be a boon to property values given the higher value perception bestowed on a Kuala Lumpur address.

With such massive development opportunities opening up, it is no wonder there is this sudden expansion frenzy among industry players.

Since UEM Land Holdings Bhd stated its intention to take over Sunrise Bhd earlier this month, two other mergers involving MRCB and IJM Land, and Sunway Holdings Bhd and Sunway City Bhd have been announced.

The first two mergers involve government-linked entities with private developers while the third involve two sister companies in the Sunway stable. It marks the creation of Malaysian property giants that have the heft and ambition to go regional, if not global.

The merger will boost their land bank, product offerings and expertise to enhance their market position.
With the growing competition, industry players see the need to strengthen their market capitalisation, land bank, geographical presence and expertise.

The marriages of these companies will allow the involved partners to leverage on each other's strengths and ensure better utilisation of resources. They will also create a bigger vehicle with a stronger balance sheet and market capitalisation to undertake bigger projects.

With their enlarged capacities and capabilities, there are better chances of winning bids for larger projects. Of course, all eyes are on the redevelopment of the massive Rubber Research Institute land in Sungai Buloh.

Besides flexing their muscles locally, developers are also seeing the need to venture offshore as the home market, while still robust, has a limit to its growth potential.

Globalisation is taking on a new vigour and there are opportunities for local developers to spread their wings to become international players.

Having a good brand and stronger financial backing and expertise are some of the prerequisites to carve a niche in the international market place.

While there are merits to being big, let's not forget that many conglomerates have failed after they grew too big and clumsy. Most of the time, these gigantic organisations lost track of their business forte and started to diversify into too many non-related activities. So it is important for them to keep level headed and not become arrogant and lose their footing in the process.

Despite the frenzy to go BIG, there is certainly room for the smaller and medium-sized developers which are appreciated for their quality projects, timely delivery and good after-sales service.

Deputy news editor Angie Ng believes industry players who uphold the basic tenet of appreciating and engaging with their customers will survive the good and bad times.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Apple buys old HP campus

Hewlett-Packard has found a buyer for its decades-old campus at 19091 Pruneridge Avenue in Cupertino.

About five minutes' drive from Apple headquarters, the 98-acre parcel of land is adjacent to 50 acres Apple acquired back in 2006 and will be used to house a workforce that's expanding nearly as quickly as the market for iOS devices.

"We now occupy 57 buildings in Cupertino and our campus is bursting at the seams," Apple spokesman Steve Dowling told the Mercury News, which first reported the story. "These offices will give us more space for our employees as we continue to grow."

No word on HP's asking price for the parcel, but real estate experts estimate that it may have been $300 million or more.

Story Copyright (c) 2010 AllThingsD. All rights reserved.

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

When Is a Bubble Not a Bubble?

The following article has been adapted from "Value: The Four Cornerstones of Corporate Finance" by McKinsey & Co.'s Tim Koller, Richard Dobbs and Bill Huyett. The publisher is John Wiley & Sons.

It's easy to construe all instances of sharply rising, then falling, stock prices as bubbles, but most of the time they're not.

True stock-price bubbles are essentially nonexistent at the level of the aggregate economy, very rare in specified industry sectors and not common for individual companies. The fact that they are so rare makes it all the more important for the value-minded executive to be able to spot them.

What, then, is a bubble? Bubbles occur when one group of investors irrationally pushes a stock price far above a level that can be justified by its potential financial performance, and other, often more sophisticated investors, aren't able to offset the actions of the less rational investors due to structural constraints and the liquidity risks of shorting stocks.

Financial crises are often described as bubbles, but they're not the same. Bubbles are the rise and fall of company share prices. An unlike debt, equities don't have maturity dates or covenants that can allow the holder to immediately demand cash from the company. Therefore, when bubbles burst, they don't have a drastic effect on the economy (unless they're accompanied by large amounts of debt).

Financial crises, on the other hand, do have a dramatic and far-reaching effect on the real economy, because they're brought about by excessive financial leverage, which has a negative domino effect when the value of the underlying assets falls and those who owe the debt can no longer service it. The debt crisis causes an economic downturn, which then causes the stock market to decline. But we can't call this a bubble if stock prices were reasonably valued in light of the economic conditions before the crisis.

A good example of a stock bubble was when 3Com(COMS_) spun off its Palm subsidiary 10 years ago. Immediately after the share sale, the market capitalization of Palm was $45 billion. At the same time, 3Com's market cap was only $28 billion, even though it owned 95% of Palm (presumably worth $41 billion). The only way that 3Com could be worth 60% of Palm would be if the rest of 3Com's businesses were worth negative $13 billion!

So why didn't rational investors exploit the mispricing by going short in Palm shares and long in 3Com shares? Because they couldn't. The free float of Palm shares was too small after the carve-out because 95% of all Palm's shares were still held by 3Com. Establishing a short position in Palm would have required borrowing the shares from a Palm shareholder, but there weren't many. Therefore, the bubble remained until the supply of shares available to borrow increased steadily over the months following the carve-out.

Bubbles that affect the broad market in developed economies are rare. Over the past 50 years in the U.S., two periods (1967-1972 and 1997-2001) might be considered market-wide bubbles. But as we dig deeper, we find that even these bubbles weren't broad based; they were concentrated in certain segments of the market.

During the technology bubble of the late 1990s, the aggregate S&P500 price-to-earnings ratio was greater than 30 times for several years versus an expected level of about 16 times (given the level of interest rates and inflation). Looking deeper, the bubble was concentrated in large-cap companies with high P/E ratios clustered in three sectors: technology, media, and telecommunications (known as TMT). P/E ratios were significantly lower in most other sectors.

One would expect rational investors to question the apparent mispricing -- and some did. Julian Robertson, one of the leading investors of the 1980s and 1990s, said: "Well, we've had a movement away from value investing to momentum investing, where price is not a factor ... everybody -- day traders, hedge fund operators, LBO people, right down the line -- is piling into the same stocks, which is, in effect, an inadvertent Ponzi scheme. And it will eventually blow up."

On the other hand, the media found commentators who could explain the high prices with new theories of economics and finance. One idea was the "new economy," although definitions of it were vague. But vagueness and hope drove herds of people into buying overpriced Internet stocks, so much so that those who questioned the new economy were said to "not get it." At this time, there weren't enough rational investors with the resources and risk appetite to prevent prices from rising too high.

Sector bubbles are more frequent than market-wide bubbles, but still rare. The biotechnology sector experienced a bubble between 2005 and 2006, when the sum of listed biotech companies' market capitalization was about $450 billion (excluding the traditional large pharmaceutical companies that were investing in biotech). Making some assumptions about future margins, one can estimate that these companies would need to earn $600 billion in revenues in 2025 (in 2006 dollars) to justify these prices. To put that into perspective, all the listed pharmaceutical companies combined earned about $600 billion of revenues in 2006.

Company-specific bubbles are hard to find too, and sometimes misnamed. Imagine a sharp share-price drop for a pharmaceutical company that announces its promising new drug has failed in clinical trials. The steep decline doesn't indicate that the price was originally at a bubble level; the original price might have reflected a reasonable estimate of the company's value given a reasonable estimate of the drug's probability for success.

Brinker International(EAT_), however, is an example of a company that experienced a bubble in the early 1990s. At that time, Brinker, which has 1,700 restaurants (including the Chili's chain) in 27 countries, increased its revenues by more than 20% per year, with improving margins. In 1993, its market capitalization reached $2.1 billion with a P/E ratio of greater than 40 times. But eventually same-store sales began to decline, and the market realized the company's economics were vulnerable. In 1994, Brinker's market cap dropped by 61% to a more reasonable P/E ratio in the high teens.

Although not common, the fact that bubbles do sometimes occur -- that is, prices do sometimes deviate from the fundamentals -- makes it even more important for corporate managers and investors to understand the true, intrinsic value of companies. They may be able to exploit any market deviations if and when they occur, for example, by using shares to pay for acquisitions when those shares are overvalued by the market. But more importantly, they will not make decisions based on what may be the unreasonably high price of their stocks, only to be surprised when those prices return to more normal levels, which they always do.

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Father of modern Penang, Dr. Lim Chong Eu, a truly towering leader dies

Chong Eu, the father of modern Penang, passes away peacefully at home


PETALING JAYA: Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu, a giant in Malaysian politics, died last night.

Dr Lim, who will always be remembered as the father of modern Penang, died at his Tanjung Bungah home at 9.07pm surrounded by his family.

The former Penang chief minister was brought home at about 7pm from Penang Hospital, where he had been warded following a stroke about a month ago.

Dr Lim: Credited with implementing the Free Trade Zone and building the Komtar building and Penang Bridge.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said Dr Lim would be accorded a state funeral.

Dr Lim, 91, had led an intensely private life since retiring from politics after losing in Padang Kota to DAP’s Lim Kit Siang in the 1990 general election.

He made a clean and complete break from politics, declining to comment on issues, and turned to his passion, horse breeding.

Dr Lim, whose name was synonymous with Penang politics and its development from 1969 through the seventies and eighties, had not given a single interview since retiring.

A bold and high-thinking pioneer of his generation, he earned his place in history when the Gerakan party he co-founded snatched Penang from the Alliance in the 1969 general election.

But the pragmatist in him saw it fit to join the newly-constituted Barisan Nasional in 1973. The shrewd and strategic decision enabled him to power Penang from a struggling free port into a modern and developed state.

Besides implementing the Free Trade Zone, he built the Komtar building and Penang Bridge in the face of widespread opposition.

He can also claim the distinction of a political life quite untouched by scandal or corruption and resolutely refused a title until his retirement when he finally accepted a Tunship.

Dr Lim, who studied medicine in Scotland, leaves behind wife Toh Puan Goh Sing Yeng, sons Chien Aun and Chien Cheng, daughters Pao Yen and Pao Lin, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
The man behind Penang’s economic transformation

GEORGE TOWN: Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu, 91, who served as Penang Chief Minister for 21 years, was a towering leader who presided over the remarkable economic transformation of the state.

He led a simple life despite a political career spanning 39 years, shunning awards and titles, and only accepting a Tunship after retirement from politics.

When he took over as Penang’s second chief minister in May 1969, the state was going through a difficult period after the withdrawal of its free port status, with unemployment rising to 16.4%.

He implemented the Free Trade Zone concept in Penang – the first state to do so – wooed foreign investments and built one of the largest electronics manufacturing bases in Asia, earning Penang the tag as Silicon Valley of the East.

A simple man: The late Tun Dr Lim with his wife Toh Puan Goh Sing Yeng attending a high tea reception in a recent photo.
Dr Lim also presided over Batu Ferringhi’s transformation into a tourism belt, cleared pre-war houses to build the iconic 65-storey Komtar and built the Penang Bridge.

Born in Penang, Dr Lim attended Penang Free School. In 1937, he was a King’s scholar at Edinburgh University in Scotland and graduated in 1944 with a medical degree.

Formerly a medical officer with the Chinese Armed Forces, he founded the Radical Party in 1951 which won the first municipal council elections in George Town.

In 1954, he joined MCA and was a member of the Razak Commission for Education.

Despite defeating the late Tun Tan Cheng Lock for party presidency in 1958, he quit MCA a year later following differences with Umno over the allocation of parliamentary seats in the 1959 general election.

He formed the United Democratic Party in 1962 and co-founded Gerakan in 1968, which swept the Alliance ruling coalition out of office in the 1969 general election, leading to his appointment as Chief Minister.

However, in 1973, Gerakan, together with the Alliance Party, formed a coalition called Barisan Nasional.

In 1980, Dr Lim stepped down as party president, saying there were “many young and promising leaders in the party just as capable to hold the post”, and was succeeded by (Tun) Dr Lim Keng Yaik in 1980.

He continued as Chief Minister but retired after losing the Padang Kota state seat in the 1990 general election. He was succeeded by his former political secretary, Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, as chief minister.
His message to the party then was to “always remember its roots and humble beginnings”.

After retiring from politics, he became a passionate horse breeder and turned his attention to business as chairman and adviser to several large corporations.

In 2007, he was named founding chancellor of Wawasan Open University in Penang.
Lim’s legacy will not be forgotten, especially by Penangites.

My greatest rememberance and honour to our heroes. A true hero of Penang.

He is Penangite's Bapa Pemodenan dan Kemajuan.

We owe him the respect and bereavements, as he is the true leaders that brought forth The Penang Bridge, FTZ, FIZ, Tanjung Bunga tourist belt, Komtar and modernity to Penang.

Truly a man of his class, he never bothered to bodek the UMNO president during his tenureship as CM of Penang.

It much regretted our dear fathers/mothers and elders voted him out during 1990. Yet, we will never forget your effort, your contribution and you Tun Lim, the son of Penang and also very the Father of Penang.

We wish your last journey into the next life be blessed and peaceful.

Goodbye sir.

Nation has lost a great statesman, say politicians

PETALING JAYA: The nation has lost a great leader with the demise of former Penang Chief Minister Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu, said many politicians.

MCA party president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek described Dr Lim as one of the greatest Chinese leaders of the nation.

“His demise is a loss to the nation. Because of his visionary leadership, Penang became one of the earliest states to see rapid transformation.

“By setting up the Free Trade Zone, he successfully attracted a significant inflow of foreign direct investments,” he said.

In his tweet, DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang wrote:
“Penang and Malaysia have lost a great son. Though opponents in political electoral arena, I always have highest respect for Lim Chong Eu’s political struggles and integrity.”

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Gerakan president and former Penang Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon said: “Malaysia, Penang and Gerakan have lost a great statesman and visionary. Tun Dr Lim was rightly the father of Industrialisation for Malaysia.”

Koh credited Dr Lim as one of the founding fathers of the nation, having participated actively in the drafting of the Federal Constitution.

“Gerakan members and I are very saddened to have lost our most respected founder,’’ he added.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who is away on a business trip to Hong Kong, extended the state government’s deepest condolences to Dr Lim’s family.

DAP chairman Karpal Singh said Dr Lim was a man who commanded respect and one who would be missed by the people of Penang.

“Although he was a serious-looking man, Dr Lim had a humorous side as well. He was able to counter an opponent in both the state legislative assembly and Parliament effectively.

“I will miss him personally and his demise is a great loss not only to Penang but to the country,” said the Bukit Gelugor MP. Women, Family and Community Development Minister Senator Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil fondly remembered Dr Lim for attending her wedding.

“God bless his soul. As a Penangite, I grew up under Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu. His legacy is enviable,” she tweeted yesterday.

Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir tweeted that the former Gerakan president built Penang into what it is today.

Former Penang Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ibrahim Saad tweeted that Dr Lim was his first boss after being elected into the Government, adding his former boss was a fantastic and visionary leader.

Related Stories:
The man behind Penang’s economic transformation
Chong Eu, the father of modern Penang, passes away peacefully at home

A saviour whose foresight led Penang out of the doldrums

INDUSTRIAL organisations in Penang have paid tribute to Tun Dr Lim Chong for spearheading the state’s industrialisation.

Malaysian American electronics Industry (MAEI) chairman Datuk Wong Siew Hai described Dr Lim as Penang’s saviour when the state was going through hard times after losing its free port status.

“As the Chinese saying goes, in every crisis there is an opportunity.

“Dr Lim saw the opportunity and seized it and started the transformation of the state.

“He led his team overseas to attract investment and was successful with the first eight companies namely AMD, Hewlett Packard (now Agilent Technology), Clarion, National Semiconductor (now Fairchild Semiconductor), Hitachi Semiconductor (now Renesas Semiconductor), Intel Malaysia, Osram Opto Semiconductor and Robert Bosch.

“His transformation programme also led to the creation of new townships like Bayan Baru and Seberang Jaya,” he said.

The committee members of the Free Industrial Zone Penang Companies Association (Frepenca) praised Lim for developing the electronics industry to resolve the unemployment rate in Penang in the early 1970s.

It credited Lim for working closely with the Federal Government to create two zones in Penang under the Free Trade Zone Act, 1971.

In a statement, a Frepenca spokesman said Dr Lim worked tirelessly to invite foreign companies to set up plants in Penang.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers Penang (FMM) credited Lim with the success of Penang’s various industries, especially manufacturing.

Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers northern branch region chairman Datuk O K Lee said Dr Lim courageously pioneered the transformation of Penang from an entreport and agro-based island state into a globally renowned manufacturing hub in the Far East, particularly in the field of electrical and electronics.

Penangites sing praises of Dr Lim

THE ordinary Penangite may not have known Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu but his passing still managed to evoke in them a sense of sadness and loss.

Pharmacist Cheryl Lim, 23, who had just returned to Penang after studying in Melbourne, said Dr Lim’s death was a great loss to Penang as he had done a lot for Penangites.

Supply chain director G.S. Khoo, 48, said Dr Lim was a man of great vision and Penang has become what it is today because of him.

He said Dr Lim had contributed greatly to the state’s economy, including setting up the Bayan Lepas Free Trade Zone.

“Although I was not born a Penangite, I have been living here for the past 20 years and now have a job with a multi-national corporation,” he said of the impact Dr Lim had on his life.

“I have seen him before at functions after his retirement from politics but we have never spoken. It would have been wonderful to have talked to him and to know his thoughts,” he added.

Factory administrators Anisha Banu, 33, and Munira Halili, 30, thanked Dr Lim for his contributions to Penang.

“If not for him, we may not even be employed today. His death is a great loss to all Penangites,” said Munira.

“We appreciate great leaders like Tun who helped to develop our nation. We have lost a great thinker. Our condolences to his family and we hope he will rest in peace,” said Anisha.

Housewife Rosa Wong, 45, said Dr Lim had set a good moral example for the younger generation.

Her son, student Louis Phuah, 19, said current and future generations of politicians have much to learn from Dr Lim.

Sales consultant Leow Guan Hai, 55, who had helped out during the election campaigns of Dr Lim and his son Chien Aun in the past, described Dr Lim as a great leader and a nice man.

“Tun was respected by people of all races. He contributed greatly to Penang, and we have him to thank for the existence of Komtar, Penang Bridge and the Free Trade Zone, which created a lot of jobs for the people of Penang and helped Penang to develop fast,” he said.

Lawyers See Liang Teik, 42, and Ramsun Ho, 43, said they were fortunate to have known Dr Lim as committee members of both the Old Frees Association (OFA) and the Penang Swimming Club (PSC) where Dr Lim was a trustee of both and also patron of OFA.

Ho described Dr Lim’s demise as the passing of an era and noted that he should be admired for his steadfastness in not getting involved in politics after his retirement.

See said Dr Lim was a wise man, a true statesman and a gentleman.

“He was a visionary and always had new ideas even at 90. Even though we did not really know him that well, we have fond memories of Tun from the short time we knew him over the past few years,” he said.

Chong Eu had courage to make changes

AS a Penang-born Malaysian, I feel very sad over the departure of Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu, a former chief minister of Penang. Dr Lim was one of our most outstanding leaders who did not talk very much but worked very hard for the industrialisation of our country.

He showed his unparalleled far-sightedness as a political leader.

After the Gerakan wrested power in Penang in 1969, he travelled overseas to invite foreign investors to set up electronic factories in Penang.

The electronic factories gave Penang a new lease on life when it lost its free port status. The free trade zone provided ample job opportunities for the people. The setting up of these factories also contributed much to the growth of downstream industries in the country. Apart from that, we also benefited in terms of transfer of technology.

I was one of those who benefited from the industrialisation programme initiated by Dr Lim. In the 1980s, chances for young people to further their tertiary education were scarce. However, those who worked in the multinational electronic factories in Penang were given ample opportunities to upgrade their skills and education.

While working in National Semiconductor, I took a City and Guild diploma course in electronic engineering conducted by the company and after graduation, was given the opportunity to go to Japan for special technical skill training under an AOTS (Association for Technical Overseas Scholarship) scholarship.

I will always remember Dr Lim, not only as the Father of Industrialisation of Penang, but also as the person who played an important role in fostering the early “open university” programme in Malaysia.

I only met him once but I was very impressed by his words.

He believed that industrialisation was very important to our country because of its multiplying effects. For instance, a factory of 1,000 workers would create another 6,000 additional job opportunities because the new factory would create demand for food, housing, clothing, education and entertainment.

One important thing that we can learn from him is that courage is a dominating factor in initiating changes. Dr Lim also displayed his wisdom as a political leader by joining the Barisan National because he knew the importance of unity and stability in fostering economic development.

GOH HOE HOE,Kuala Lumpur.

Salute to a Malaysian legend

AS A medical doctor Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu was a wholesome fatherly figure who always managed to win the hearts of his younger patients.

I was a young patient of Tun until his entry into full-time politics. During that time I had never heard any child scream on being injected or vaccinated. Dr Lim was always able to do it with almost no pain being felt.

His elderly patients had nothing but praise for him. Dr Lim was true to the Hippocratic Oath, never turning away his patients even when they appeared at his house on weekends.

A highly respected political figure, he was a professional the whole nine yards. His weekly interviews and press statements were all related to current topics.

As a freelance journalist, I had never heard Dr Lim speak out of turn in spite of his stature in society, and he always respected others.

He had the ability to make his audience listen to him.

One can imagine the challenges that he had to face as a Penang leader, particularly with regards to funding. Being a small state meant that there was never enough revenue to fund the running of the state.

The Free Trade Zone, his brainchild, brought in the industrialists and saw the state’s revenue growing.

Despite various constraints, he was firm and decisive in what he wanted in the interest of Penang and managed to get Federal funds for the Penang Bridge – the third longest in the world when it was completed – and the 60-storey Komtar complex-cum-state government operations centre.

Dr Lim was also responsible for much of the state’s infrastructure, especially the road network; for turning the airport into an international passenger and cargo hub and upgrading the port to service the logistics needs of the high-tech industries operating out of Penang.

True to the professional that he was, Dr Lim took to his retirement without making regular or even periodical press statements and refrained from political comments on his successors or peers.

He delivered his best during his tenure and he allowed his successors and peers the same space he received from his constituents and coalition partners.

Anyone who had had the opportunity to meet and speak with Dr Lim was always awed by his ability to remember faces and names.

I had occasionally bumped into him and he always addressed me by name and asked about my father.

Dr Lim was never too elevated in status that he forgot the layman. He blended in always, spoke to all and sundry and was always approachable.

He did not accept any title offered to him throughout his tenure as the Chief Minister of Penang and only accepted the Tunship after his retirement.

We salute you Dr Lim for your clear vision for Penang and I am sure all Penangites and Malaysians join me in saluting you. We know much sacrifice had to be made in your quest to make Penang a great place for Penangites and for Malaysians and the millions of tourists and industrialists that have criss-crossed our prized island state.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Rare Apple computer sells for $210,700

This Apple-1 sold at a Christie's auction for $210,700.
(Credit: Christie's)
Talk about a smart tech buy. An Apple computer purchased more than 30 years ago has sold for 425 times its original selling price.

An Apple-1, one of only about 200 such machines built in Apple co-founder Steve Jobs' parents' garage, sold at Christie's auction house in London today for 133,250 pounds (about $210,700). The Apple-1, which didn't include a casing, power supply, keyboard, or monitor, originally retailed for $666.66 in 1976. Apple discontinued the model in 1977.

Christie's called the computer a "historic relic" and said the auction included all the original components, including its 8K bytes of RAM, in its original shipping box, as well as a signed letter from Jobs to the original owner.

The winning bidder was Italian businessman and private collector Marco Boglion, who made his offer over the phone, according to the Associated Press.

In a time when most personal computers were sold as self-assembly kits, the Apple-1 broke new ground as the first personal computer sold with a fully assembled motherboard.

Fellow Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who attended the auction in London, threw in an autographed letter with the sale. Wozniak said he was proud to have his work auctioned alongside such technologically notables as an Enigma, the World War II German code-making machine, and documents from British mathematician Alan Turing, a pioneer of modern computing.

"Today my heart went out as I got to see things auctioned off like the Turing documents and the Enigma machine--and the Apple I," Wozniak reportedly told journalists after the auction. "It really was an important step, (even though) I didn't feel that way when I designed it

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