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Lim Bian Yam

Jack of all trades, Master of all

Receiving the Datukship 2007

Master Lim Bian Yam, many in the floral art and cooking circles think that they know the Jack of all trades and Master of all. Paradoxically, they don't really. Others see him as very talented but he is really more then that.

The Maestro is, in fact, everything - a draughtsman for a start, a fine designer, a creative painter, a perceptive artist in flower arranging, a chef of international standing, an author, lately a motivator and most of all a sincere friend and dedicated teacher.

Seagull - Jonathan's Livingston

It is wonderful how Master Lim Bian Yam is what he is today. Possibly this can be attributed to his charisma which might be akin to that of Jonathan Livingston's Seagull.

Like the Seagull, he dreams what he dares to dream, goes where he wants to go and he is what he wants to be. He lives!

LBY With family during 70th Birthday

To the Penang Floral Art Society, he is "the pioneer live wire who feels good and makes good too, nourishing the members' body and soul". He fascinates and inspires with his magical touch when he demonstrates.

Seemingly simple but every composition created is a profound blend of philosophical concepts and the aesthetics, reflecting the crystal clear frame of mind of this exponent of floral art.

The final results - a recognizable Malaysian style of flower arranging - The Malaysian Way. To the Ohara school in Japan, he is "Hoka", the flower of abundance.

Datuk LBY demostrating

To all of us who think we know him, Lim Bian Yam is the Master who has developed a desire for goodness, an eagerness for knowledge, a capacity for friendship, an appreciation of beauty and a concern for others.

He helps those around him to grow: and to grow in all directions. Let the Seagull soar to even greater heights! - TAN LYE HOE.

His founding fathers

Decorated Lim Bian Yam

Lim Hua Chiam circa 1837 - 1912 is the great great grandfather of Dato Lim Bian Yam.

One of his sons, Lim Seng Hooi (1872 - 1943), grandfather to Dato Lim was a founding member of the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce, chairman of the Kong Hock Keong Temple.

During his time the Cahaya Pulau Pinang and the Straits Echo through the Criterion Press was managed by him.

Datuk Lim Bian Yam never to forget his good fortune as he believed it to be his grandfather Lim Seng Hooi who, during his time saved many people in Penang.

There were two Bubonic Plague epidemic where he hired doctors to attend to the poor patients at his expense. Such was his generosity that again in 1918, he organized similar free medical and aid to the victims of Influenza epidemic.

His Achievements and Awards

Today, he still would credit his achievements and awards to the good deeds done by his grandfather.

  • 1961 Started Penang Floral Art Society with his friends
  • Started two international schools for flowers and cooking in Penang then Kuala Lumpur and many schools all over the world by his students
  • Wrote three books - 1967 The Eye of the Flower Arranger, 1977 Floral creations and 1996 A guide to Flower Arrangement, Inspirations. All these books are collectors item.
  • The Eye of the Flower Arranger

  • 1974 Pingat Jasa Masyarakat
  • 1992 the Silver Shield of Valor from the USA
  • 1992 the International Order of Merit from Cambridge England. this Award is only limited to 500 men and women of distinction in the world.
  • 2004 and 2005 (aged 72) Most Distinguished Creation Award in the Hong Kong Flower Show beating renowned floral artist around the world.
  • Floral Creations

  • 2005 One of three Penangites conferred the Living Heritage Treasure of Penang Award. The HSBC Living Heritage Treasures Award is part of the Bank ’s corporate sustainability initiatives. HSBC has always been an advocate for the conservation and development of the arts, especially those related to heritage, culture and local performing arts. This programme commence in 2005 and will end in 2010.
  • Inspirations

  • 2007 102 Favorite Recipes on International Cooking.
  • 2007, the Darjah Setia Pangkuan Negeri (DSPN) by the Yang diPertua Negeri of Penang, which carries the title of “Datuk“

The Man

As magnanimous and stentorian a man he is, he is a simple, kind, warm man at heart. Witty in his spoken Nyonya Hokkien, famous words would be:

  • "Chneah Tor" (English translation, proper or authentic)
  • "uu how"  (English translation - filial piety)
  • "ewe siew" (English translation, refined)

are never forgotten in Datuk Lim Bian Yam's dictionary.

All his students like me, loved and adored him and I remembered once, he was asked in a cooking class by a cooking student, why he never got married? His answer was, "Why do I have to marry and be tied down by one woman when I can love many women?"

You can't imagine the laughter we had for hours in the class and for days and months after that. Such is Datuk always a "no-nonsense gentile man".

His birth defect in 1933 when medicine is still at its infancy resulted in Datuk Lim having only 1 capable strong hand but it never stop him from soaring to his dreams, paths in life and destinations.

He never fails to amaze us. Most of his students felt he touched our lives with his tips and advises.

For this, I thank the Almighty for permitting me this opportunity to meet, know, respect and love this great man whom a few of us in Mahikari called "The Living Saint".

His generosity knows no bounds, he is truly a friend one can come to rely on in times of need. He is my knight in shiny armor, that is how I remember my Guru and mentor.

Datuk, the Penang and international floral art master and our cooking grandmaster is recently retired from active teaching and devote himself to Mahikari, a spiritual organization he is involved in over 20 years.

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