CHIEF Minister Chow Kon Yeow today presented his predecessor, Lim Guan Eng, with a Patron award for founding the George Town Literary Festival (GTLF) at the UAB Building in China Street Ghaut.
“This is to honour our Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng for founding the festival. GTLT turns eight this year, and he is the reason this festival has grown to be the world-class literary event that it is,” Chow said in his speech.
Also present were state Tourism Development, Heritage, Culture and Arts Committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin, Penang Convention & Exhibition Bureau chief executive officer Ashwin Gunasekeran (producer of GTLF) and GTLF festival director Bernice Chauly.
“Lim is a man of many talents and passions. His vision for Penang as an international city with a vibrant arts and cultural scene has brought Penang much acclaim,” added Chow, who yesterday officiated the festival at Cheah Kongsi.
“Even though he spends most of his time administrating in Putrajaya, he makes it a priority to come back to his constituency in Penang regularly. I know that Penang, and GTLF is close to his heart.
“The current state government is committed to continuing Lim’s vision to grow GTLF to greater heights. Penang will always be the home of Malaysia’s largest literary festival, and the home of freedom and intellect.”
Lim said he was touched and deeply honoured to be recognised as the GTLF Patron, thanking the state government, Ashwin and Bernice for growing the festival.
“GTLF started with five writers. I’m happy to see how the festival has grown. I am told we have 100 speakers from 25 countries at the festival this year,” Lim said in his speech.
“In March this year, GTLF was awarded the International Excellence Awards 2018 for the Literary Festival at the London Book Fair. It’s like the Oscar of literary achievements. GTLF is the first literary festival in Southeast Asia to be conferred this award.”
This year’s GTLF is from Nov 22 to 25, with the theme “The State of Freedom”.
Lim said the best is yet to come for GTLF and he is confident that Ashwin, as the producer, will steer GTLF forward.
He also expressed hope that the festival would attract more literary greats as the new Malaysia allows freedom of speech.
At the same time, Lim cautioned that freedom of speech should not be abused to stir up racial disharmony and religious intolerance.
In conclusion, Lim said the award was not an individual effort but a team effort over the last 10 years.
Story by K.H. Ong
Pix by Nur Afiqah Zainudi
Video by Law Suun Ting