Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Guan Eng’s able assistants - The Star

April 29, 2008 By CHRISTINA CHIN

THE new Penang chief minister has been described as a "human dynamo" - working almost non-stop since his appointment and his 13-member staff at the Komtar Tower are working equally hard to catch up with him.

Just over a month into office, Lim Guan Eng, who is also DAP secretary-general, has been meeting political leaders, potential investors and his constituents while entertaining endless media requests and attending official events seven days a week.

Helping him juggle his demanding schedule and unending workload are several key staff members like his chief-of-staff Jeff Ooi, political secretary Ng Wei Aik and press secretary Cheong Yin Fan.

Ooi, who is also Jelutong MP, said a typical day started at 7.30am at Lim’s 28th floor office, ending only around midnight.

“As chief of staff, my duties include gathering and analysing intelligence reports; coordinating party matters, government duties and the civil service and planning investment and tourism directions for the state. Mainly, my job involves handling backroom issues and lending my brain-power,” he laughed.

“It’s not easy and I am burning both ends of the candle because I cannot neglect my constituency responsibilities,” he said.

Similarly, it is double duty for Ng, who is also Komtar assemblyman.

“Besides looking after my constituents, I help the chief minister handle party matters and queries which he is unable to attend to.

“These days, most of his appointments and meetings involve state administration rather than party matters. He is constantly at meetings with elected representatives and officers.

“Since his appointment, there have been hundreds of requests to meet him. We summarise and show him all appointment re-quests and he decides which to prioritise. Then, I’ll make the appointments,” he said.

A former reporter, Cheong knows the rigorous demands of her job as she was used to be on the other side of the fence.

“Now, my responsibility is to assist members of the media. The first two days after Lim was elected, his phone was ringing non-stop. I was answering the calls until my hand became numb and the phone finally conked out!

“When it comes to the press, he is very fair. He does not want any reporter to miss a story and will even repeat his statement several times if necessary.

“If he can help it, Lim never says no to answering a reporter’s question. He does not shy away from issues,” she said, adding that since last month, he had given more than 20 interviews to both the local and foreign media.

“There are more than 30 requests still pending and we will try our best to accommodate these journalists.

“It is a challenge because he is already working seven days a week – sometimes attending up to five press events a day,” she said, adding that for the first few weeks when he took over as chief minister, she did not take any day off.

“He is very hardworking so I have to keep up,” she said.

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