Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Humble, "Tun" of Penang,Malaysia

A short article to remember this great man in my blog.

Sitting down tonight in a local kopitiam ( coffee shop in Hokkien dialect), and celebrating my wife's birthday today, I took out the local newspaper, Star and was sad to read the headline, "Chong Eu dies" on 24/11/2010. My wife told me of a few encounters with him and those moments brought back good memories. I told my wife that I too had encountered the Tun on at least two occasions.

My First Encounter.
While doing my first job in Penang constructing Hotel Equatorial , I met Tun when he paid us a surprise visit to check on the progress of the hotel . On one instance, he walked all the way to the edge of a wing and looking down at the Bayan Baru Township, he told us his vision about how he would develop the town. Standing behind him, I was awed by his talk and kept silent until he ended it. Well, now I know why he is so well respected by so many people in Penang. Maybe his foresight, eloquence, drive and dynamism are the main reasons why he has inspired many.

IEM 's dinner.
One good memory of him was during The IEM( Institute of Engineers, Malaysia) dinner held in Penang at Hotel Rasa Sayang . Sorry that I cannot remember the date. That night I recall that when everybody heard that he was about to give his speech, the entire audience kept a silence which was pregnant with meaning-they totally respected him. The audience listened attentively to him until he finished his speech. He is indeed well regarded even until today. I can still remember that day vividly.Such a scenario is observed in most local gatherings. Wow, such is the respect that most people give him.

My wife's encounter.
After his retirement from politics, he would patronize a restaurant in Batu Ferringhi and during his many visits he would be addressed by staff and my wife (temporarily helping out) there as "Tun". Many times when he arrived and saw many guests he would walk straight in and tell my wife and her friend not to worry about him for he would find a comfortable place to sit by himself to have his dinner.
Such was a humble retired man of great distinction. Many great people would not have done that.

Star Publication's

On 25/11/2010.
Chong Eu dies.
Father of modern Penang passes away peacefully at home. (Headlines)
A truly towering leader. (N4: Nation)
Ambulance ride his last trip. Final journey through the streets of his beloved Penang (N12: Nation)
Born in Penang, Dr Lim attended Penang Free School. In 1937,he was a King Scholar at Edinburgh University in Scotland and graduated in 1944 with a medical degree. (N4: nation

On 26/11/2010.

"State honour",
Former CM's (Chief Minister) state funeral to be held in accordance with federal protocol. (Headlines)
"Dynamic and Enigmatic": All who grew up in Penang felt Chong Eu's unique touch. (N8: Nation)

On 27/11/2010.
Express 'gift'
State govt renames 18km highway route after Chong Eu. (Headlines)

On 28/11/2010
Avoid cortege route,public advised (N3: Nation)
'The funeral route covers Lebuh Light, Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, Jalan Kampung Kolam,Lebuh Carnavon, Jalan Magazine, Jalan Datuk Keramat, Jan Air Itam, Jalan Scotland and Jalan Batu Gantung'.

On our way back after our dinner, my wife started counting the day when Tun's funeral procession would be held and was elated to confirm with me that it would be the coming Sunday. Why??? Well, we could visualise this grand state funeral with lots of Penang people giving their last respect along the cortege route.
To me, the most important stop of the cortege route would be the 65 storey Komtar :Penang's landmark.It is sad indeed that the cortege could not pass " The Silicon Valley of the East "and many other significant places he is credited with.

Strangely enough, he did not sit down to write a memoir of himself or have I missed it? Anyway, his legacy will not be forgotten by the Penangites. (name given to Penang people ). He is a true Penangnite leader.

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