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Monday January 21, 2008

Following in dad’s footsteps


Tan Tee Beng

PENANG: One could say that Tan Tee Beng is merely following in his father’s political footsteps.

But unlike his father Datuk Tan Gim Hwa, who was once a prominent Penang Gerakan leader, the junior Tan will be contesting the polls under a Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) ticket.

Tee Beng, 36, is slated to contest the Nibong Tebal parliamentary seat in the next general election.

He graduated in law from Middlesex University, London, and works as a remisier. He joined PKR in January last year at the urging of his friend Jason Ong, who is also the Penang PKR deputy chief.

His decision to join PKR was a matter of some controversy for the family and his father is still coming to terms with it.

Tee Beng said that although his father was very passionate about politics, he had tried to discourage him from going into full-time politics.

“He would say that politics is so unpredictable. But I think he is getting tired of trying to discourage me,” said Tee Beng.

Gim Hwa, now 70, was a founding member of Gerakan and served as the party chief in Penang for 12 years before giving way to Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon.

“I don’t really support his move but he has made up his mind. Besides, my wife tells me to let him decide what he wants. He has always been interested in politics even when he was studying in London. I remember he formed the Gerakan Club there,” said Gim Hwa.

Gim Hwa was as well known for his macho style of politics as he was for his shock of snowy-white hair and lanky frame.

He fell out with Dr Koh and was dismissed from Gerakan in 1999 after a party crisis of sorts. Tee Beng, who was then active in Gerakan Youth, was also dismissed at the same time.

Since then, Gim Hwa has completely retired from politics but Tee Beng has moved on to other pastures.

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