Shahar Noor

In the field of advertising and communications, there are only a few with the status that our Advertising Personality of the Year 2003, Tan Sri Dato’ (Dr) Lim Kok Wing, commands not only in Malaysia but also internationally.

An industry legend, Tan Sri Lim is a communication strategist whose name is synonymous with the creative industry. From advertising, design, brand development, multimedia, publishing, media, international relations, government relations, strategic corporate communication to education, his achievements and contributions to the industry and the country make up a list that will probably take some time to enumerate.

Beginning his working life as a journalist and cartoonist, he found his calling in the world of advertising; starting as an illustrator and quickly rising to become the youngest creative director in one of the world’s largest international networks and the first Asian to hold the post.

In a business then dominated by multinationals and expatriates, in 1975 at age 29, Tan Sri Lim set up Wings Creative Consultants to take them on as a homegrown agency. Raising creative standards and winning more than 100 national and international awards, he gained recognition for the ability and talent of the local industry to compete with the best in the world.

Elected as president of the 4As, he pushed to build local branding, pioneering the 6As Annual Award, now known as the Kancil Award.

Having reached a pinnacle in advertising, he moved on in the mid-80s and early 90s to begin a new era as a strategic communicator. Drawn to the Vision 2020 ambition of Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad to transform the country into a fully developed nation by that year, Tan Sri Lim also shared the PM’s belief that a major shift of the Malaysian mindset had to be orchestrated to achieve that.

As a committed nation-builder, he worked with the government to strategise, conceptualise, plan and execute campaigns to shape and influence local opinions and also international campaigns that promoted Malaysia as a tourism and industrial haven.

Apart from his work with the Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games 1998 and the Rakan Muda youth programme, other successful campaigns include:

• Vision 2020, the blueprint for Malaysia to attain developed
nation status.

• Malaysia Incorporated, a philosophy on positive and
productive partnership between government and private
sectors in business, trade and industry.

• Made in Malaysia For The World, promoting Malaysia’s
international trade and industry.

• Reach Out, working towards a generous and charitable

• Proud to be Malaysian, enhancing national unity.

• Be Good To Your Neighbours, fostering neighbourliness
and racial harmony.

• One Heart One Nation, calming a nation during a regional
currency crisis.

• Unity 2001, promoting patriotism and gratitude for the
good things in life to foster peace and contentment.

Always a designer, Tan Sri Lim, as president of the Malaysia Design Technology Centre, actively promotes Malaysian design that will add value to Malaysian exports and was instrumental in the setting up of the Malaysia Design Council, and is founder/president of the Designers and Animators Guild of Malaysia.

As an educationist, he endeavours to instills among the young generation worldwide a culture of strategic creativity that maximizes technology to create content.

• He founded the Limkokwing Institute of Creative
Technology, one of the world’s largest and most
globally connected, with more than 50 of the best
-known universities and colleges jointly awarding
diplomas and degrees.

• He created the specialist Millennium Institute of Technology
to focus on information technology, computing science and
e-commerce. Both colleges lend strategic support to the
human capital aspiration of the Multimedia Super Corridor.
On the international front, Tan Sri Lim mooted the Malaysia
World Peace Foundation, which held its inaugural
conference – the Kuala Lumpur World Peace Conference
– in early August 2003.

Also a philanthropist,

• He initiated the Global Humanitarian Appeal for Bosnia
and Herzegovina to raise funds for the reconstruction of
the wartorn country and to give a human face to the
atrocities of war.

• He organised the highly successful Run for Humanity,
to date the biggest charity run ever to promote the Red
Cross Movement.

• He set up the Limkokwing Foundation for Creative
Excellence which awards full or partial scholarships
to outstanding Malaysians who need financial assistance.

• As a political strategist, Tan Sri Lim was handpicked to help
Nelson Mandela and the African National Council win South
Africa’s first free elections in 1994. Public service positions
held by Tan Sri Lim, past and present, include:

• President, Malaysia Institute of Directors
• Trustee, Malaysian Handicraft Development Board
• Trustee, National Art Gallery
• Adviser, National Science Centre
• Member, Malaysian Business Council
• Founder/president, Society for the Severely Mentally
• Founder/past president, Cancerlink Foundation
• Vice-Chairman, Malaysia Red Crescent Society
• Vice-President, United Nations Malaysia Association
• Fellow, Institute of Public Relations, Malaysia

All his unselfish, unstinting and untiring efforts have not gone unrecognised.

He was conferred the title of "Tan Sri" by the Yang Dipertuan Agung and also the title "Dato" by the Sultan of Selangor. Other awards include:

• CEO of the Year 2000 by the Institute of Public Relations
of Malaysia.
• Honorary Doctorate conferred by Curtin University,
• Honorary Doctorate conferred by University of
Hertfordshire, England.
• Honorary Fellow of the Auckland University of Technology,
New Zealand.
• Honorary Doctorate conferred by RMIT University,

That was quite a list indeed, but then Tan Sri is quite a man and an inspiration to all of us in the industry. It is a wonder that a man can do and achieve so many things. Does he have more than 24 hours a day the rest of us have? Maybe, Tan Sri can let us in on the secret of his success.

Shahar Noor
The president of the Malaysian Advertisers Association, 2003