Malaysia's first woman envoy dies at 97


PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s first woman ambassador and Cambridge-trained lawyer, Tan Sri Lim Phaik Gan (pic), has died in Perth, Australia at the age of 97.

Born in London, PG Lim as she was fondly known, was the daughter of legislative councillor Lim Cheng Ean and his British Guyanese wife, Rosalind Hoalim.

PG Lim was their eldest child and was an alumnus of Convent Light Street in George Town.

PG Lim was among the founding members of the Labour Party of Malaya and in 1967, sealed her reputation as a fearless lawyer when she represented 11 young men sentenced to death as enemy collaborators in the 1964 to 1966 “Konfrantasi” campaign by Indonesia in protest against the formation of Malaysia.

Together with the late Tan Sri Dr Tan Chee Khoon, PG Lim was able to secure a simultaneous pardon for them from the Sultans of Johor and Perak.

In 1969, after the May 13 riots in Kuala Lumpur, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein appointed PG Lim as one of two women representatives in the National Consultative Council to draw up a national reconciliation programme in the form of the Rukunegara and the New Economic Policy.

Razak also appointed PG Lim as Malaysia’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations with the status of ambassador.

This appointment marked the beginning of a decade-long diplomatic career that included appointments as ambassador to Yugoslavia, Austria and the European Economic Community (the precursor of the EU) in Belgium.

She returned to Malaysia in 1980 and was invited to join the board of Star Publications by the paper’s chairman Tunku Abdul Rahman. She provided legal advice to the board and left The Star after Tunku’s death in 1990.

In 1982, PG Lim was appointed by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to head the Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre of Arbitration.

She was also a patron of the arts – she was a deputy chairman of the National Arts Gallery, a founder member of the Malaysian Historical Society and president of the Malaysian Ceramics Society.

In April last year, Kaleidoscope: The Autobiography of PG Lim was launched in Penang.

PG Lim leaves behind her son Wilfred Wee and daughter Caryn Lim.

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