Workers’ Party (WP) chairman Sylvia Lim paid tribute to her late father, Mr Lim Choon Mong, on his third death anniversary today (17 Aug).
Ms Lim, who paved the way for women in the opposition by becoming Singapore’s very first female opposition MP post-independence in 2011, credits much of her early political education to her father. In a 2017 WP documentary, Lim spoke about how her father candidly spoke to his children about politics at home and how this caused her to take an early interest in politics.
Mr Lim worked in the police force before quitting to study law in London and qualified as a practicing lawyer in his late 30s. When he was in the police force, he was known for regularly giving briefings to founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.
Ms Lim followed in her father’s footsteps, first joining the police force as an inspector before carving out a career in law.
The 2001 General Election was a turning point for her. Barely two months after the devastating 9/11 tragedy shook the world, Lim said that she was distressed that two-thirds of the seats were left uncontested by the opposition due to the suddenness of the “snap election,” allowing the ruling party to claim these wards by walkover.
Ms Lim called up then-WP chief Low Thia Khiang and expressed her interest to join the party right after the election. She signed papers to join the party just 10 days after the 2001 General Election and quickly rose up the ranks to become the party’s Chairman 18 months later, in 2003.
Ms Lim made her first foray into electoral politics in 2006 when she was fielded as an opposition candidate for the first time in that year’s general election. The star candidate was chosen to lead the WP team contesting Aljunied GRC.
Although the WP team lost to the incumbents with 43.9 per cent of the vote, Ms Lim was appointed a non-constituency member of parliament (NCMP) since her team received the highest score among the losing opposition candidates in the election. Ms Lim served as NCMP from 2006 to 2011.
Ms Lim was finally elected to Parliament with her Aljunied GRC team in the 2011 general election and was re-elected during the 2015 general election. The WP held on to Aljunied GRC in the most recent 2020 general election and received a resounding mandate of nearly 60 per cent – its best result since it first won the ward in 2011.
In a Facebook post published this afternoon, Ms Lim revealed that her late father was so supportive of her political career that he served as a counting agent when she first contested Aljunied GRC in 2006.
Sharing that the result in that election disappointed him, Ms Lim said that her father may not have been aware that she and the WP eventually won Aljunied GRC since he was incapacitated by two strokes by the time the watershed 2011 election took place. Sharing a photo of Mr Lim with his counting agent card, she wrote:
“14 years and 4 General Elections ago, my late father was a Counting Agent for WP in Aljunied GRC in 2006. We lost, and he was hugely disappointed. At the next GE when WP won in 2011, he was already incapacitated by two strokes. It was never clear to me all these years whether he understood that WP had eventually won.
“It has been three years exactly today since he passed away on 17 August 2017. R.I.P. Dad – we won!”