Tun Lim Chong Eu: The past is not passé

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Ooi Kee Beng takes advice from Tun Lim Chong Eu about the powerful relevance of the past on the future. However, he realises that Tun Lim’s own life does tell us that we are not always prisoners of days gone by.

ONE easy way of approaching the history of a country is to study the life of a major player in that history. But as time goes on, such players tend to diminish in numbers.

Where Penang is concerned, few islanders alive today can boast of having been consumed by the first heat of Malayan nationalism six decades ago. Tun Lim Chong Eu is one of them.

Indeed, the 90-year-old Tun Lim actually played a key role several times over in Malaysia’s political history. Yet, when briefly interviewed recently, his favourite topic of conversation was not Malaysia or Penang, but the genesis of these political entities. It is not 1957 that he thinks about, or 1969, or any of the key dates in our modern history.


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