GEORGE TOWN: Forging ahead in domains that were once the preserve of men, Tan Sri Lim Phaik Gan's life is characterised by a passion to make a difference and showing spirit in the face of adversity.
The country's first woman ambassador, affectionately known as PG, was also the first Cambridge-trained lawyer and life-long champion of the underdog who fought fiercely for the poor, the marginalised, the victimised and the oppressed.
She sheds light on her colourful life in her biography Kaleidoscope: The Memoirs of PG Lim.
The book chronicling over 96 years of her life and the culmination of 10 years of work was launched at the E&O Hotel yesterday.
A must-read: (From left) Penang Story chairman Datuk Anwar Fazal, PG, Toh and ThinkCity senior adviser Neil Khor during the launch of PG’s book at the E&O Hotel Friday.A must-read: (From left) Penang Story chairman Datuk Anwar Fazal, PG, Toh and ThinkCity senior adviser Neil Khor during the launch of PG’s book at the E&O Hotel Friday.
Looking back on her achievements, PG said: “Things evolved naturally as they must. The book is a recollection of what has happened in my life, and how it affected me.
“My mother was a great proponent of women's rights, and that provided a good background for me to work on. I had to break through many glass ceilings.”
Born in London in 1915, PG was the eldest daughter of prominent lawyer Lim Cheng Ean and his wife Rosaline Hoalim.
Educated at the Light Street Convent and then Cambridge, she began her law career assisting Dingle Foot QC at the Privy Council, and later worked for the famous law firm of Braddle & Ramani.
Establishing her own legal practice later, she gained prominence for her successful defence of a Malayan communist originally sentenced to death, as well as getting royal pardons for a group of men tried for treason.
In 1972, she was appointed Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations with the rank of ambassador by the country's second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein.
“He showed great character in choosing somebody who was a nobody,” said PG of her appointment, which was followed by stints as ambassador to Yugoslavia, Austria and the European Economic Community (now the European Union).
After returning to Malaysia, she served as director of the Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration for 18 years before retiring in 2001.
In his speech at the launch, Datuk Dr Toh Kin Woon, a senior fellow of Penang Institute (formerly known as the Socio-Economic and Environment Research Institute) said the book is a must-read for all Malaysians as it sheds light on the nation's history and destiny through the eyes of one of its most prominent women leaders.
Published by the Strategic Information and Research Development Centre, the book retails at major bookstores for RM70 (paperback) and RM120 (hardback).