GEORGE TOWN: Jun 17, 2008 By LIM AI LEE
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng was a picture of confidence as he took questions at a special news conference held in conjunction with his 100 days in office.
Except for his policy advisor Liew Chin Tong, there was no entourage -- unlike his first day in office on March 11, when his father and DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang sat by his side and Pakatan Rakyat elected representatives and party comrades stood behind him.
If he had seemed rather overwhelmed by the enormity of the task ahead then, Guan Eng was more at ease this time, fielding questions on his achievements to date and the challenges ahead.
With his hair swept back, Guan Eng’s face seemed even more angular these days and he admitted to having lost 15 kg since he took office.
On how his life has changed in the last 100 days, the DAP secretary-general quipped that it was now easier to get journalists to cover his press conferences.
Guan Eng said he had also given up social drinking but leisure time was now practically non-existent.
“I no longer have time for football or golf. I have not been able to catch the Euro 2008 and I heard the US Golf Open is really exciting this time,” he lamented. “Work is 24-7."
Even family has to take a back seat.
"Do I miss my wife (Betty Chew)? She misses me. I see my children only when I come back. When I get home they are sleeping, when I leave, they are still sleeping.”
The Malacca-born has picked up a smattering of Penang’s sing-song Hokkien but his southern accent is still a give-away.
One thing that has remained unchanged for Guan Eng though is that he still flies AirAsia and MAS economy class, even on long distance travel.
Guan Eng said he believes in a “sempoi” or simple lifestyle.
“If I can fly economy before, I don’t see why I can’t still do it now.”
He would like to take advantage of the "zero-fare" offers but that would require early planning, something he could not do due to a punishing schedule.
To cut costs, he said the new government had scrapped the purchase of new cars, held functions in government complexes instead of expensive hotels, and catered cooked food for guests.
At the media session held at his office on the 29th floor of Komtar, journalists were served a packet of nasi lemak wrapped in newspaper and a piece of nyonya kuih each.
“It’s a sign of hard days,” Guan Eng quipped.