Education & Community

A close-up of an old person

Description automatically generated

A Pioneering Force in Diplomacy and Women's Rights
Dato’ Lim Phaik Gan or Dato’ PG Lim as she is widely known, pursued law and history at Girton College, University of Cambridge, earning her Masters and becoming one of the first Malaysian women called to the English Bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1948.

Dato’ PG Lim went on to make history as the first Malaysian woman at the United Nations (UN) in the 1970s and served as the Malaysian Ambassador to the former Yugoslavia, Austria, Belgium and the European Economic Community when Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak named her as the Deputy Permanent Representative with the rank of ambassador.

A person standing in front of several women sitting in a room

Description automatically generated
Dato' PG Lim (standing) at a party given in her honour by the National Council of Women's Organisations (NCWO) in conjunction with her appointment as the country's Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations. On the left of the photo is Tun Fatimah.

A woman's rise to prominence in diplomacy
Upon joining the UN, Dato’ PG Lim found that in the 1970s, many countries which had achieved independence could not afford to discriminate against women. This created a culture where those who were efficient were given the position to represent their country, irrespective of gender. 

Her sharp intellect and capabilities were evident as she was appointed to key positions within three months, becoming one of the Vice-Presidents of the United Nations Economic and Social Council and later serving as the Director of the Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration (KlRCA) from 1982 to 2000.

A person reading a book

Description automatically generated
 Dato' PG Lim in her study where she reads and writes her autobiography.

Her background greatly influenced her contributions
Growing up with a father who, as a legislative councillor in 1934, fought for free education for immigrant Chinese and Indian labourers' children, Dato’ PG Lim inherited an anti-colonial mindset.

Her mother was also active in public service among poor immigrants, instilling a sense of empathy in her upbringing. Raised with a strong work ethic, she learned the value of responsibility over privileges. Her father’s disdain for waste and laziness shaped her approach to earn what she desired. Despite facing challenges, including pressure to prove herself against English lawyers, she took a path of advocacy, competing in a demanding but rewarding environment against British lawyers and judges.

A person in a suit and a person in a wig

Description automatically generated
Dato' PG Lim at the 14th Australian Legal Convention in 1967.

An inspiration to all women, a role model to us all
Despite being one of the few women lawyers at the time, she provided legal aid to struggling trade unions, contributing to their growth and success. The Railwaymen’s Union of Malaya and the National Union of Plantation Workers reflected her commitment to workers’ rights, especially in cases of compensation for those who perished in rubber plantations.

Dato’ PG Lim, a dedicated patron of the arts, assumed the inaugural role of Chairman of the Exhibitions Committee and Deputy Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the National Art Gallery from 1963 to 1971.

As a role model for all Malaysians, Dato’ PG Lim personifies courage and dedication. Her unwavering commitment to women's rights and amplifying the voices of the marginalised is a source of inspiration for generations.

An old person smiling while reading a book

Description automatically generated
Dato' PG Lim's capabilities and strength of character have stood her in good stead throughout her career.

The information in this award recipient's profile is accurate to the best of our knowledge as of the time the award was presented. Any subsequent changes, updates, or developments in the individual's life or achievements may not be reflected in this profile.

We use cookies to enhance your browsing experience and for analytical purposes. By continuing to browse, you are deemed to accept our use of cookies. Learn more about disabling cookies and our Privacy Statement here.