Datuk Paddy Bowie

Datuk Paddy Bowie

Over the past two decades, YBhg Tan Sri Dato’ Lim Kok Wing has been actively involved in national and international projects that contributed to nation-building. The 80s and 90s were an extraordinary period for Malaysia as the country moved from commodity-based economic development into industry-driven growth. The (former) Prime Minister YAB Dato Seri Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad had an agenda to raise Malaysian capability. But above all, he needed to convince Malaysians that they were as able as anyone from anywhere in the world. Tan Sri Dato Lim worked closely with the Prime Minister to influence Malaysians through strategic campaigns that moved hearts and changed minds to think Malaysia Boleh. For his efforts he was awarded the IPRM’S CEO of The Year 2000. "Fellowship of IPRM was instituted to give recognition to outstanding practitioners of public relations – those who have brought distinction to our profession. Today, we honour Tan Sri Lim Kok Wing. I can think of no more worthy recipients of the Institute’s highest accolade. The words "outstanding" and "distinction" I do not use lightly. The first test of those attributes is that they are immediately recognisable. An outstanding individual is one who stands out from the crowd. The person whose attainments are distinguished. Who does not know of Lim Kok Wing? Who has not heard of Limkokwing Institute of Creative Technology? Before that who has not heard of Wings Creative? As Tan Sri seems to like a pun, I’m tempted here to include Mohamed Ali once said, "The man who has no imagination has no wings". Recognition in Tan Sri Lim’s case, is not confined to Malaysia. His reputation has spread abroad certainly, and, with good reason to Bosnia and South Africa, amongst others. The second attributes I’d like to examine is talent. For public relations is a talent based profession. You need a gift for communications and all the degrees and all the technical training will not serve you in this profession without that gift. It can take different forms. In Kok Wing’s case, it was a talent for art. His gift for drawing was discovered very early in his school career. So precocious was he that when the teacher failed to turn up Kok Wing took over the class. Thus early on he had found his personal reality. It was to dominate his life and career. Talent always has a way of getting noticed. Tan Sri’s first job was a stringer to the Eastern Sun. Before long they found his true vocation. He was given a cartoon strip he called Abu. Hardly surprisingly, graphics has always been a strong point of his varied businesses – and in graphic design he was quite simply the best in the business. Talent also has a way of driving us. When the newspaper folded, Tan Sri decided he was bored with hanging round the courts being a crime reporter. He wanted to create. So he joined the advertising firm of Lintas. It wasn’t long before he struck out on his own and in 1975 set up – what else but – Wings Creative – aptly named. His professional career has been both outstanding and astounding in both the scope of his activities and his versatility. His biographer has dubbed him a "maestro at moving hearts and shaping minds", as well she might. Public relations calls for the mastery or command of many communications techniques. And we are getting cleverer and cleverer, and more and more sophisticated by the day. So comprehensive has our range of skills and media become, it would seem to defy the ability of any one man to encompass them all. Tan Sri is described as a maestro because he has done just that – he has mastered almost the full armoury of weapons and tools in a contemporary PR practice. He has experimented, explored, and conquered just about every element of communication to acquire expertise – be it cartoons, fashion design, copy writing, journalism, advertising, film graphic design, packaging, television commercials, account management, publishing, event management, public relations, education. And when IT came along he soon absorbed the new electronic medium of animation and the digital arts. His institute is named not just "Creative" but "Creative Technology". This somewhat breathtaking scope of his activities is more than a matter of sheer volume. There is a great deal of talk nowadays about the convergence of multimedia. In Lim Kok Wing, you had a convergence of almost the full range of communications – a synthesis, unparalleled anywhere. It facilitated a strategic, multidisciplinary approach he was to bring to bear to campaign planning and problem solving. His experience spans three decades and more than fulfils the criteria of distinction. In his advertising days he won more than 100 national and international creative awards. Many will still remember his cartoon strip – Guli Guli – which ran for many years in the New Straits Times. Among the highlights of his latter-day career he created the information systems for the KLIA and the LRT respectively, and revamped the image of KTM when it went electric. It is no coincidence that these were national projects. Tan Sri’s career can be divided into distinct phases. That first was that enthusiastic, prolific and exuberant experimentation with not one but several communications careers rolled into one. Then he moved on, found a focus that allowed him to dictate this full panoply of experience to a voluntary national service. He engaged his mind and his strategic thinking in campaigns that supported government efforts in nation-building. He has tracked the extraordinary transformation of Malaysia from a small commodity-based country to thriving, export-based manufacturing economy – poised now for a hi-tech future. And in the spirit of Malaysia Inc, he has been part of that growth – playing to his strengths – promoting Malaysia and its products, explaining its policies, changing mind- sets, defending its rights, from the attack on our rain forest management to the recent currency crisis. His forte is not the single campaign but orchestrated strategic operations that access that unique convergence of professional assets few, if any, could begin to match.

Datuk Paddy Bowie
Fellow of the Institute of Public Relations Malaysia, 2000
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