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Sylvia Lim Swee Lian (simplified Chinese: 林瑞莲; traditional Chinese: 林瑞蓮; pinyin: Lín Ruìlián; born 28 March 1965) is a Singaporean politician, criminal lawyer and academic. She is currently a member of the opposition Workers' Party (WP) and an elected Member of Parliament (MP) representing Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (Aljunied GRC). She is in charge of Serangoon division.[2] Lim previously served in the Singapore Police Force and subsequently joined Temasek Polytechnic as a law lecturer.

Sylvia Lim
林瑞莲
Sylvia Lim at a Workers' Party general election rally, Bedok Stadium, Singapore - 20110430 (cropped).jpg
10th Chairperson of the Workers' Party of Singapore
Assumed office
2003
DeputyMuhamad Faisal bin Abdul Manap
Preceded byTan Bin Seng
Member of Parliament
for Aljunied GRC (Serangoon)
Assumed office
7 May 2011
Preceded byLim Hwee Hua (PAP)
ConstituencyAljunied GRC
Majority12,460 (9.42%)
Member of Parliament
for Non-Constituency
In office
6 May 2006 – 7 May 2011
Preceded bySteve Chia
Succeeded byLina Chiam
Yee Jenn Jong
Gerald Giam
Personal details
Born
Sylvia Lim Swee Lian

(1965-03-28) 28 March 1965 (age 53)
Singapore, Malaysia
NationalitySingaporean
Political partyWorkers' Party (2003)
Alma materNational University of Singapore
University College London
Michigan State University
OccupationPolitician
ProfessionLawyer, law lecturer at Temasek Polytechnic

Lim re-entered the legal sector following the 2011 general election. She is currently senior associate in Peter Low LLC, helmed by former Law Society president Peter Low.[3]

Contents

Education and early careerEdit

Lim had her early education at CHIJ Our Lady of Good Counsel, CHIJ St Joseph's Convent and National Junior College. She then read law at the National University of Singapore (NUS), graduating with a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) in 1988. She obtained a Master of Laws from the University of London (University College London) in 1989,[1] and was called to the Bar in Singapore in 1991.[4] She later obtained an online master's in criminal justice from the Michigan State University in 2014.

During her undergraduate and postgraduate studies, Lim did volunteer work with the Spastic Children's Association, Salvation Army Home for the Aged and University College Hospital. She later did voluntary editorial work for the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme of the Law Society of Singapore.

In 1991, Lim joined the Singapore Police Force for three years as a police inspector. She initially did investigation work at the Central Police Division Headquarters, and then became a staff officer under the Director of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).[5][third-party source needed]

Lim joined the law firm M/s Lim & Lim in 1994. She handled litigation work both civil and criminal cases in the High Court, Subordinate Courts and Juvenile Court between 1994 and 1998.[4]

Lim joined Temasek Polytechnic in 1998 as a law lecturer. She was also the Manager of Professional Development and Manager of Continuing Education and Training at the polytechnic's School of Business. Her main areas of teaching and research were in civil and criminal procedure, criminal justice and private security. During her time at Temasek Polytechnic, Lim contributed to the volume on Criminal Procedure for Halsbury's Laws of Singapore (2003), a legal practitioners' reference series, and has also collected and published primary research on private security in Singapore.[citation needed]

In March 2006, Temasek Polytechnic modified its staffing policies to enable Lim to run as a candidate in the general election without having to resign her teaching position at the institution.[6]

Political careerEdit

Lim was cited as feeling "distressed" that opposition parties could contest only one-third of the parliamentary seats during the 2001 general election. 10 days after the election, she joined the Workers' Party (WP) and within 18 months quickly rose to become the Chairman of the party in 2003.[4]

2006 General ElectionEdit

At the 2006 general election, Lim led the WP team to contest the Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (Aljunied GRC), campaigning on the slogan "You have a Choice". Means testing in hospitals, as well as the James Gomez fiasco became hot button issues during the election campaign.

The WP team ultimately lost to the team from the governing People's Action Party (PAP) by 58,593 votes (43.9%) to 74,843 (56.1%).[7] This was the highest percentage of the vote garnered by any losing opposition candidates in the election, and therefore meant that the WP was entitled to select one of its team members from Aljunied GRC to become a Non-constituency Member of Parliament. The party chose Lim to become its Non-constituency Member of Parliament.[8]

NCMP term: 2006 - 2011Edit

During her term in Parliament, Lim spoke out against ministers' salaries,[9] and also against means testing in hospitals, which resulted in the PAP deferring a decision on this for a period of two years from 2006 to 2008.[10] In addition, she also called for a reduction in the Goods and Services Tax, arguing that it was a regressive tax,[11] and urged the government to do more to help retrenched workers.[12]

In 2009, Parliament debated the Human Organ Transplant (Amendment) Bill which would permit an organ donor to receive a reasonable amount of payment as a reimbursement for medical checks, insurance and other medical expenses, and loss of income. Lim spoke of her worry that the bill might lead to a backdoor organ trading and profiteering.[13]

In 2010, Lim mooted the idea that the proportion of each Primary 1 cohort that would be seeking a university education should be increased beyond the 30% by 2015 that the Government was planning. She noted that in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries in 2006 about 37% of each age cohort received a degree-level education, and that a sizeable number of Singaporean students who failed to gain entry into local universities had done well in reputable universities overseas.[14] She also suggested giving concessionary fares to disabled individuals who make up 2% of the adult population under 60 years.[15]

Lim expressed concerns about a proposed constitutional amendment introduced in April 2010[16] that would allow magistrates to hear what are called "first mentions" through video conferencing. A first mention is a hearing that must be held within 48 hours of a person's arrest.[17] She felt it failed to adequately assure accused people that they were allowed to complain to magistrates about injuries they had sustained or acts of misfeasance against them by the authorities.[18] In response, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Wong Kan Seng assured MPs that processes would be in place to ensure that accused people are treated fairly. For example, during a video conference, an accused person will be alone in a room with no police officer, and will be able to see what is happening in the entire courtroom. Secondly, the screen that will be used by the judge is large enough to enable him or her to clearly see whether the accused is under duress. Finally, accused people who have been mistreated can either complain to the police or to the judge when they are later present in court.[19]

The following month, during parliamentary debates on major revisions to the Criminal Procedure Code,[20] Lim suggested there was a need to improve pre-trial disclosure procedures and to ensure that victims of crimes received redress. Further, she expressed concerns over the leniency of community-based sentencing.[21] The bill eventually incorporated several of her suggestions.[22]

In 2011, Lim noted that the Compulsory Education Act[23] ensures that all children have the opportunity to receive an education. However, she expressed concern that processes for entry to schools for children with special needs were cumbersome. Furthermore, education for children with special needs was not subject to the same subsidies that students in mainstream schools had. She thus brought to the House's attention the fact that special needs children might have been unintentionally marginalized.[24] These concerns were supported by Penny Low, MP for Pasir Ris–Punggol GRC.[25]

2011 General ElectionEdit

In the 2011 general election, Lim again contested in Aljunied GRC, along with Muhamad Faisal Manap, Pritam Singh, Chen Show Mao and party leader Low Thia Khiang, who vacated his seat of Hougang to lead the charge in Aljunied. Lim and her party campaigned on the slogan "Towards a First World Parliament", which entailed maintaining checks and balances in Parliament to keep the ruling party accountable to the public, and for opposition parties to gain experience in policy formulation and constituency work. In her final election rally speech, Lim emphasised that contrary to the public's perception, there was "no glamour" in being an opposition MP, and that she was only "fighting to serve".[26] In a televised political broadcast on cooling-off day, Lim warned the public that "there is a very real danger of an 87 to nil score ... and if that happens, Singapore's political landscape will suffer a tremendous setback from which we may never recover."[27]

Lim was returned as an elected Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC after her team won 54.71%[1] of the votes (54.72% including overseas votes), the first time that an opposition party won a GRC since the system's introduction on 1 June 1988. In addition, the defeat of the incumbent PAP team marked the first time in Singapore's electoral history that a serving cabinet minister lost his seat.[citation needed]

She has been assigned to look after the Serangoon ward previously held by the PAP's Lim Hwee Hua and has also been appointed Chairman of the combined Aljunied-Hougang Town Council. Lim's victory also made her the first female opposition MP in Singapore's post-independence history.[28]

One week after the election, she announced that she would be resigning from her lecturing job at Temasek Polytechnic after 12 years of service. She said that her political activities had already led to her having to take significant time off from her teaching duties in the past, and that she did not think it would be fair to the polytechnic if she stayed on as she anticipated future Parliamentary duties would take up even more of her time.[29] Since then she has returned to the legal profession and is now a senior associate taking on legal cases on an ad-hoc basis at Peter Low LLC.[5][third-party source needed]

First term: 2011 - 2015Edit

Gross National HappinessEdit

In her maiden speech as an opposition MP in October 2011, Lim urged the government to adopt a more holistic approach in assessing the well-being of Singaporeans, which included using Gross National Happiness (GNH) as an indicator apart from conventional indicators such as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).[30] Lim further noted in her speech that Singapore was a co-sponsor of Bhutan's resolution in the United Nations entitled Happiness: Towards a holistic approach to development. Lim's speech drew swift rebuttals from MPs of the ruling People's Action Party, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong who suggested later in 2014 that it was impractical "to switch to a different metric - from GDP to GNH".[31] Lim replied that "the search for alternative indicators other than GDP is highly relevant ... GNH is not merely about measuring an emotion. It is about measuring societal progress in a holistic way".

Woffles Wu law caseEdit

In 2012, Lim engaged in a heated debate with Law Minister K Shanmugam where she questioned if the judgement published by the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) with regards to the Woffles Wu speeding case had addressed public concerns on the equitability of Singapore's legal system.[32] Wu was fined S$1,000 in June 2012 under section 81(3) of the Road Traffic Act. Lim questioned why a custodial sentence was not imposed, noting that "aggravating factors" such as Wu abetting someone to provide false information to the police, and that he had committed more than one offence over a prolonged period would have warranted a harsher sentence.[33] Shanmugam insisted that the treatment of the law applied in Wu's case was in line with prior cases of a similar nature, and challenged Lim repeatedly to name "a single case" in which a custodial sentence was imposed on cases with such a nature.

The sharp exchange between Lim and the Minister led to WP chief Low Thia Khiang intervening to question if Shanmugam was trying to "impose some sort of intimidation" on Lim. The debate also led to Lim requesting the Minister to "confirm whether he's questioning my motive in filing the question? ... Is he alleging bad faith on my part to cast aspersions on the legal system?", to which Shanmugam replied, "MPs should leave politics aside and look at the facts if we want to be honest and fair. It's got nothing to do with intimidation."[34]

Population White PaperEdit

Lim also spoke out against the Population White Paper, contending that the government's strategy of using immigration to "top up" for the shortfall in Singapore's total fertility rate (TFR) "will further dilute national identity" and place Singapore on course in requiring "even more population injections in the future".[35] She added that the government's attempts to encourage childbirths have been "half-hearted". Lim and her party proposed a greater tradeoff between GDP growth and population numbers, as well as new initiatives to encourage TFR recovery.[36]

Action Information Management (AIM) sagaEdit

The AIM saga,[37] which involved the termination of town council IT software owned by the PAP in the event of a "material change" in the leadership of a town, became a much talked about issue in the lead up to the Punggol East by-election in 2013. Lim contended that a "material change" was taken to mean a "change in political leadership" as in Aljunied GRC, and questioned how the public interest was served with the presence of such a termination clause. This led to Lim filing an adjournment motion in Parliament titled Safeguarding the Public Interest in Town Council Management, which she withdrew after the government announced it will conduct a review on the issue.[38] Then Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan accused Lim of being "self-righteous" and "arrogant",[39] in which Lim replied she "definitely does not accept his ascription of those motives to me personally". The WP won the by-election in Punggol East.

Little India riotEdit

Lim opposed the Public Order Bill in the aftermath of the 2013 Little India riot, characterising the "hasty introduction" of the bill as a "knee-jerk reaction" by the government. She noted that the bill would in effect "stigmatise Little India as a special zone requiring special legislation" and that "there are already sufficient powers under our laws" with the Committee of Inquiry (COI) set to release its recommendations soon.[40] Lim further expressed concerns with regards to newly imposed liquor control regulations, as well as policing resources and manpower required to handle such occurrences.[41]

Promoting social mobilityEdit

Lim also advocated for a more progressive tax system and strengthening of social safety nets to mitigate inequality, which included tweaking the income tax tiers for high income earners and fixing loopholes in the property tax measures.[42]

Lim expressed support for the Pioneer Generation Package rolled out by the government in 2014, but raised concerns with regards to the MediShield Life scheme, particularly for Singaporeans who are already on private medical insurance or those living abroad.[43]

2015 General ElectionEdit

Less than a month before election day on 12 August 2015, Lim set up her Instagram account with the first post showing a photo of herself eating oyster omelette at Fengshan Hawker Centre. The accompanying caption read "The taste of Fengshan - heavenly!" and a cryptic hashtag "#ReasonsToWin".[44][45] A media frenzy and large public reaction ensued, with rumours circulating that Lim was considering a move to contest the election in Fengshan SMC. Alluding to the financial problems of the WP-run Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean joined in the fray, criticising Lim for wanting to "swallow up Fengshan" and "help the town council with the deficit".[46] Lim later replied that it was "unfortunate" that Teo "does not seem to have a sense of humour".[47]

In the Singaporean general election, 2015, Lim defended her Aljunied GRC ward against a new PAP team led by Yeo Guat Kwang. Campaigning on the platform "Empower Your Future", the vote numbers came down to the wire and a recount had to be conducted as the margin was less than 2%.[48] At 03:10 AM SST on 12 September 2015, Lim and her team was returned to Parliament with a reduced majority of 50.96%.

Speaking to the media just hours after the election results on the sidelines of a thank you parade, Lim questioned if "voters don't want too much opposition in Parliament". She added that the fact that all 89 seats were contested by the opposition might also have resulted in some pushback, where voters were worried "sooner or later the PAP might be dislodged as a government".[49] The feel-good factor of the SG50 golden jubilee celebrations, memory of the late Lee Kuan Yew who died in the same year and the unstable economic environment were also some other factors Lim cited for the results swinging in favour of the ruling party.[citation needed]

Second term: 2016 - PresentEdit

Singapore's 13th Parliament opened on 25 January 2016 following the elections in 2015. In her Parliamentary speech to President Tony Tan Keng Yam's addenda, Lim called for fundamental changes to Singapore's education system and how students are assessed, as well as scaling back the government's presence in non-core government functions such as in the boards of sports groups so as to allow such organisations to "manage their own affairs". Lim further noted that "an exceptional nation should have a people whose DNA is being unafraid to fail".[50]

Administration of Justice (Protection Bill)Edit

In a sharp exchange with Law Minister K Shanmugam which lasted seven hours,[51] Lim and her party colleagues voiced strong objections to the Administration of Justice (Protection Bill) which deals with the law of contempt of court. Lim argued that the bill was "being bulldozed through Parliament" and "unnecessarily lower[s] the threshold to what amounts to scandalising the courts". She added that the bill provides "draconian enforcement muscle" to the government, with the Minister using "a sledgehammer to kill an ant ... we are one step closer to being a police state".[52][53] Lim ended her speech as such,

By all means, uphold respect for the administration of justice. But laws which protect the ruling elites at the expense of ordinary Singaporeans have no place in this House.

Sylvia Lim

Government Proceedings ActEdit

While Lim supported the Government Proceedings Act, she argued against one of the act's clauses which removes the limit to the amount of legal fees the government can be awarded if and when it goes to court. Lim expressed "grave concerns" about the bill, saying that the bill will give the public the impression that the government is "using legal costs as a deterrent or prohibitive factor when it comes to litigation with the government".[54]

Oxley Road disputeEdit

Speaking during the 2-day special Parliamentary session on the 38 Oxley Road dispute, Lim noted that allegations of abuse of power mounted on PM Lee Hsien Loong by his siblings Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling were "serious charges" and "deeply troubling". Focusing her speech on potential conflicts of interest, Lim revealed that Singapore's current Attorney-General (AG) Lucien Wong represented the PM as his personal lawyer in the dispute involving the house.[55] The Deputy AG, Hri Kumar, was also an ex-PAP MP. Lim questioned if the leadership of the Attorney-General's Chambers had "recused themselves in advising the Government on any decision it wishes to take on 38 Oxley Road", and "whether these appointments instill public confidence that the AGC will act independently in matters where the Government or Prime Minister has an interest in the outcomes".[56] In an ensuing debate with Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah, Lim further questioned if the Cabinet agrees that there should be "distance between the Government and the AGC leadership", to which Rajah disagreed and replied that "independence of mind" was the crucial factor.[57]

Debate on Presidential Elections Act (Amendment) Bill 2017Edit

See also: Presidential Elections 2017

Lim has opposed the elected presidency, advocating for the president to be an appointed one instead. Lim argued that a president "elected under a PAP government might be pro-PAP and could potentially cripple a non-PAP government in its first term".[58] In a debate with Law Minister K Shanmugam in November 2016, Lim also disagreed on the "dual role" expected of the elected president - being a custodian of reserves as well as being a head of state - as this might lead to the president being faced with a confrontational situation with the government.[59]

Lim has suggested since 2006 that a reversion back to the system where the president is appointed by Parliament would "naturally take care of any concerns of minority representation and would not be regressive".[58] Lim further called for a national referendum for Singaporeans to decide whether the public preferred an elected or appointed president. Lim therefore voted against the constitutional amendments on the Elected Presidency Act in February 2017, which would provide for a reserved election if and when an individual from a minority race has not been president for five consecutive terms. She took issue with the government's decision to use Wee Kim Wee's presidential term as the basis of starting the count for the hiatus triggered mechanism, arguing that Wee was never elected by the people.[60]

I have been reflecting on the decision to use President Wee as the reference point. I realised that this decision to count from President Wee was not a matter of getting legal advice to interpret any existing laws. If one looks at this Bill and the Schedule, the government is asking Parliament to simply make it the law that President Wee is the first one to be counted.


Why not count from the first elected President, Mr Ong Teng Cheong? Is it because if President Ong was the first one to be counted, we would have to go through this year’s elections as an open election, and risk a contest by Chinese or Indian candidates who may not be to the government’s liking? Isn’t the decision to count from President Wee an arbitrary and deliberate decision of the government, to achieve a desired outcome?

Sylvia Lim

Alluding to Lim's accusations, Minister Chan Chun Sing charged that Lim was "casting aspersions on the integrity of the Prime Minister"[61] , while DPM Teo Chee Hean said the decision was "based on AGC's advice" and asked Lim to mount a judicial challenge in the courts if she disagreed.[62] This subsequently led to former presidential candidate and ex-PAP MP Tan Cheng Bock filing a suit in the High Court on whether the government's decision to start the count from President Wee was correct and in accordance with the constitution.[63] Tan's case was dismissed and thrown out by the High Court and Court of Appeal, with the court ruling that it was entirely up to the government to decide when to start the count for the hiatus triggered mechanism.[64] Lim was personally present in the Court of Appeal to hear the judgement.[65]

The writ of election for Presidential Elections 2017 was issued soon after on 28 August 2017.[66] On the same day, Lim filed an adjournment motion titled "Counting from President Wee Kim Wee or President Ong Teng Cheong – policy decision or legal question?" for the parliamentary sitting on 11 September 2017. [67] Her adjournment motion was subsequently balloted out twice as other PAP MPs had also filed adjournment motions, rendering her unable to speak on the issue.[68]

Lim delivered her speech on the adjournment motion on 3 October 2017, after two unsuccessful attempts.[69] In a strongly-worded 18-minute speech, Lim stated on the outset that the "public was very divided" on the implementation of reserved presidential elections. She accused the government — particularly PM Lee, DPM Teo, and Minister Chan — of attempting to "confuse and distract", and misleading Parliament by "merely using the AGC's advice as a cover to avoid full Parliamentary debate on why the count was not starting from President Ong Teng Cheong".[70] In his reply, Law Minister Shanmugam rejected Lim's assertions that the government was attempting to mislead, saying that the "government has always been clear that when it comes to the counting, it is a policy matter for Parliament to decide". He also took a swipe at Lim and berated, "Ms Lim protests far too much."[71]

Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) ActEdit

In opposing the renewal of the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act (CLTPA) on 6 February 2018, Lim questioned the premature renewal of the bill and said that the government had "gone too far" with the additional provisions, charging that the addition of a finality clause in the act to make the Minister's decision on whether to detain someone without trial final was an “attempt to make the Minister (for Home Affairs) all-powerful”.[72] Lim added that she found the addition of the finality clause "very troubling" and "a position too arrogant for the House to adopt".[73]

Lim also took issue with the amendments to the fourth schedule, which now defines the scope of criminal activities in which one may be detained under the CLTPA.[74] Lim branded the bill "untenable" and accused the Minister of attempting to be "a global policeman with no equal in the world" after it was revealed that individuals who commit criminal activities outside Singapore may now be detained under the CLTPA as well, as in the case of Dan Tan.[75]

A highly-charged exchange between Lim and Minister Shanmugam broke out thereafter, with the Minister rebutting to say he was "prepared to stand up here and say as the Law and Home Affairs Minister that there is no intention to oust judicial review". Shanmugam described Lim's use of the phrase "global policeman" as "rhetorical flourish", and further accused Lim of making speeches that "made for a good reading on her website" but were purely "theatrics with no substance, calculated to mislead".[76]

If what the Minister is saying is correct - that the clause is not meant to change anything - then why introduce it at all? Why not leave it at status quo, instead of causing confusion and possible problems down the road about what this (finality) clause is meant to cover?

Sylvia Lim

Lim rose to ask that a division be recorded at the second and third readings of the Bill. The bill to amend the act was ultimately passed with 77 ayes, 10 noes and 2 abstentions after a 4-hour debate. Eight of the WP elected MPs and NCMPs, as well as NMPs Kok Heng Leun and Azmoon Ahmad voted against the renewal of the CLTPA.[77]

Budget 2018Edit

Addressing Parliament on the second day of the Financial Budget debate on 28 February 2018, Lim focused her speech on addressing social and economic inequality and how it posed a threat to Singapore's solidarity.[78] Lim also questioned if the Government had commissioned independent studies on social mobility using longitudinal data.[79]

Many of our lower-income residents work hard and even (hold) two jobs, but may still be unable to pay their bills ... Does our education system penalise those who did not have a leg up in pre-school? Do housing policies unjustly discriminate against those whose marriages failed? How have children been impacted by their parents' circumstances and were they supported or facilitated to break out of the poverty trap?

Sylvia Lim

On 1 March 2018, Lim also pointed out that the Government had earlier floated "test balloons" on a possible GST hike but the public noted a contradiction with Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam's earlier statements that the Government already had enough money for the decade. This was, in Lim's view, a possible factor that led to the tax hike of two percentage points to 9% taking place only sometime between 2021 to 2025 instead of immediately. She said, "I rather suspect myself that the Government is stuck with that announcement otherwise... perhaps we would be debating a GST hike today."

Law Minister K Shanmugam and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat rejected Lim's suspicion and demanded that Lim withdraw her statements.[80] In particular, Shanmugam said that Lim had implied that the government was being dishonest by backing down on its plans, which was a "thoroughly hypocritical and dishonest statement typical of the statements she makes in this House".[81]

In a fiery exchange which saw Shanmugam and Lim responding and talk over each other, Lim refused to retract her statements and defended her views as her "honest suspicion".[82] Lim fired back, "The Government can rebut our speeches robustly, that's fine, but I don't think I'm disentitled to come to Parliament to advance honestly held beliefs or suspicions".[83] The debate got so heated that Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin had to interject and remind MPs to respond only when their names were called.

Many online commentators on Channel News Asia's Facebook page, citing the presence of parliamentary privilege and the fact that it was an elected MP's duty to voice out the concerns of the public, were largely unconvinced by Shanmugam's accusations and saw no issue with Lim's statement. They also pointed out that Shanmugam seemed to have a personal discontent with Lim, judging from the numerous occasions in which both had clashed in Parliament.[84] Lim highlighted this in Parliament in a statement during clarification time, “I can understand why he wants to accuse me of various things because he probably was not happy about past debates where I had disagreed with some of his legislative changes and in typical fashion, he always accuses me of dishonesty when as far as I am concerned I’ve acted honestly.”[85]

The debate continued into the following day, with Heng demanding that Lim apologise to the House "as an honourable MP should" for her statements[86], and Shanmugam posting on Facebook with an edited video charging that Lim had "made serious, baseless insinuations".[87]

Speaking at the start of the Parliamentary sitting on 6 March 2018, Leader of the House and Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu demanded that Lim apologise to the House by 8 March 2018 and to withdraw her "allegation" that the Government had floated “test balloons” on the need to raise the GST. Fu had said Lim "cannot contend that her suspicion remains reasonable and honestly held" when clarification has been given to her by ministers in Parliament and elsewhere.[88] Lim was not present in the chamber when Fu made her statement.[89]

Lim responded to the issue in Parliament on 8 March 2018. In her 6-minute statement, Lim said she could accept her suspicion “may not have been correct”, but strongly rejected the government’s accusation that her suspicion on the timing of the GST hike had no basis, and set out in detail a chronology of events including news reports and data published by economists which led to her to believe the GST might be raised in 2018.[90] According to States Times Review, over 20 news reports of impending GST hike have been published by government-owned news media companies during the period of three months prior to Budget 2018 while the government ministries themselves maintained totally silent on the issue, thereby forming the basis of test balloons used in Lim's analogy.[91] Lim reiterated that the public was worried about the impending GST hike, and she was not accusing the government of dishonesty.[92]

I do not accept the over-characterisation the PAP MPs have put on my words and intentions, based on their own interpretation borne out of overactive imaginations and over sensitivity.

Sylvia Lim

Lim therefore stated plainly that she was not going to offer any apology and will not retract any of her statements as she believed she was doing her “constitutional role” as an elected MP to “convey ground concerns, reactions and confusion".[93]

In an ensuing robust exchange, Fu expressed “disappointment” and condemned Lim for her “low standards, lack of integrity … dishonourable and deplorable conduct” and threatened to refer the matter to the Committee of Privileges should Lim repeat statements of such a nature.[94]

Lim rose again to respond strongly against Fu’s charges by quoting a part of Prime Minister Lee’s closing speech during the 38 Oxley Road saga, "If MPs believe that something is wrong, it's MPs' job to pursue the facts and make these allegations in their own name, decide whether something seems to be wrong. And if you think something is wrong, even if you're not fully sure, then come to this House, confront the Government, ask for explanations and answers." Lim requested Fu to clarify if there was a “difference in standard here – One standard when the PM’s name needs to be cleared, and another standard when we are talking about raising taxes on the people?”

Finance Minister Heng pressed Lim for the “basis for her suspicions”.[95] Lim responded by taking a dig at Heng, “I don’t think the Finance Minister was listening to my speech.”

After the parliamentary debate having ended, various members of the PAP leadership continued to criticised Lim. Indranee Rajah took to Facebook to describe Lim's conduct as "not honourable"[96], while Chee Hong Tat wrote in a letter on PAP's website alleging that Lim would use the GST hike issue to attack the ruling party in the next general election.[97] The continued attacks on Lim, however, were met with much public criticism and cynicism on how "small-minded" Singapore's leaders were. It was also revealed that the PAP government had sought the AGC's advice on whether Lim had breached parliamentary privilege after failing to get her to retract her statement and apologise.[98]

Former PAP MP Tan Cheng Bock also weighed in on the issue, voicing out on how the ministers were "brow-beating" Lim to extract an apology from her. He said, "Instead of getting upset, the Ministers should be thankful Sylvia Lim gave them an opportunity to explain. If the government’s position is ‘no’ then just say no and let’s just stop at that. No need to get defensive."[99] The debate led to numerous Singaporeans breaking out in satire and coming up with various ridiculous reasons for one’s demand of an apology.[100]

Current appointmentsEdit

Lim's current appointments are as follows:

  • Chairman, Workers' Party of Singapore
  • Co-Chairman, Aljunied Constituency Committee (AJCC)
  • Vice-Chairman, Aljunied-Hougang Town Council
  • Member, Special Select Committee on Nominations for Appointment as Nominated Members of Parliament
  • Member, Advisory Council on Community Relations in Defence (ACCORD)[101]

Personal lifeEdit

Lim's father, Lim Choon Mong, worked in the police force before quitting to study law in London and qualified as a practicing lawyer at age 39.[4] Old photographs from the National Archives of Singapore show Lim's father, who was then in the police force, regularly giving briefings to founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew whenever Lee visited the army barracks. In an interview with The Straits Times in 2013, Lim said much of her early political education were received in large part from her father.[4] Her father passed away in August 2017. Lim's mother was a nurse.

Lim is currently dating former Singaporean international footballer Quah Kim Song.[102] They met in 2013 and have no plans to get married. In Loretta Chen's new book Madonnas and Mavericks: Power Women in Singapore published in 2017, Lim provided more insight into her romance with Quah, and gave a candid account about herself experiencing hormonal changes in her 40s and how her parents have impacted her. [103]

Lim is a Catholic. While speaking at the CANA Catholic Centre Talk of the Town event in 2014, Lim said she tries "to read the bible everyday" but prefers to keep her faith private, adding that it is "not my nature to evangelise" as others may already have their own religion in which they take comfort in.[104]

Her classmates in law school at the National University of Singapore (NUS) included PAP MP Lim Biow Chuan and acclaimed artistic directors Ivan Heng and Ong Keng Sen.[105]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Sylvia Lim | Parliament Of Singapore
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 June 2011. Retrieved 12 June 2011.
  3. ^ "Sylvia Lim to re-enter legal practice". Yahoo Singapore. Retrieved 2017-03-31.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Sylvia Lim: Living a Life of Meaning". News AsiaOne. Retrieved 2017-03-31.
  5. ^ a b "Sylvia Lim". Peter Low LLC. Retrieved 2016-11-19.
  6. ^ http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/newspapers/Digitised/Article/today20060315-1.2.9.2.aspx
  7. ^ "Parliamentary General Election 2006". SINGAPORE ELECTIONS. Archived from the original on 1 May 2011. Retrieved 9 May 2011.
  8. ^ "Singapore General Elections 2011 Guide". Yahoo. Retrieved 9 May 2011.
  9. ^ "Sylvia Lim speaks up on Ministers' Pay". YouTube. Retrieved 31 Mar 2017.
  10. ^ "NCMP Sylvia Lim on CPF Life & Mean Testing at Budget 2008". YouTube. Retrieved 31 Mar 2017.
  11. ^ "NCMP Sylvia Lim on Budget 2008 and GST hike". YouTube. Retrieved 31 Mar 2017.
  12. ^ "NCMP Sylvia Lim suggested GST cut and helping retrenched". YouTube. Retrieved 31 Mar 2017.
  13. ^ Sylvia Lim (NCMP), speech during the Second Reading of the Human Organ Transplant (Amendment) Bill, Singapore Parliamentary Debates, Official Report (24 March 2009), vol. 85, col. 3524ff.
  14. ^ Sylvia Lim (NCMP), "Head K – Ministry of Education", Singapore Parliamentary Debates, Official Report (10 March 2010), vol. 86, col. 3709ff.
  15. ^ Sylvia Lim (NCMP), "Head W – Ministry of Transport", Singapore Parliamentary Debates, Official Report (11 March 2010), vol. 86, col. 3978ff.
  16. ^ Eventually enacted as the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Amendment) Act 2010 (No. 9 of 2010).
  17. ^ The Singapore Constitution, Art. 9(4), now states: "Where a person is arrested and not released, he shall, without unreasonable delay, and in any case within 48 hours (excluding the time of any necessary journey), be produced before a Magistrate, in person or by way of video-conferencing link (or other similar technology) in accordance with law, and shall not be further detained in custody without the Magistrate's authority." Prior to 26 April 2010, the reference to video conferencing was not present in the provision. See also the Criminal Procedure Code (Cap. 68, 2012 Rev. Ed.), s. 68: "(1) No police officer shall detain in custody a person who has been arrested without a warrant for a longer period than under all the circumstances of the case is reasonable. (2) Such period shall not exceed 48 hours exclusive of the time necessary for the journey from the place of arrest to the Magistrate's Court."
  18. ^ Sylvia Lim (NCMP), speech during the Second Reading of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Amendment) Bill, Singapore Parliamentary Debates, Official Report (26 April 2010), vol. 87, cols. 53ff.
  19. ^ Wong Kan Seng (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs), speech during the Second Reading of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Amendment) Bill, Singapore Parliamentary Debates, Official Report (26 April 2010), vol. 87, cols. 53ff.
  20. ^ Enacted as the Criminal Procedure Code 2010 (No. 15 of 2010) (now Cap. 68, 2012 Rev. Ed.).
  21. ^ Sylvia Lim (NCMP), "Criminal Procedure Code", Singapore Parliamentary Debates, Official Report (18 May 2010), vol. 87, col. 407ff.
  22. ^ K. Shanmugam (Minister for Law), speech during the Second Reading of the Criminal Procedure Code Bill, Singapore Parliamentary Debates, Official Report (19 May 2010), vol. 87, cols. 487–488.
  23. ^ Compulsory Education Act (Cap. 51, 2001 Rev. Ed.).
  24. ^ Sylvia Lim (NCMP), "Head K – Ministry of Education", Singapore Parliamentary Debates, Official Report (7 March 2011), vol. 87, no column numbers assigned yet.
  25. ^ Penny Low (Pasir Ris–Punggol GRC), "Head K – Ministry of Education", Singapore Parliamentary Debates, Official Report (7 March 2011), vol. 87, no column numbers assigned yet.
  26. ^ WP's Sylvia Lim at Aljunied GRC rally, May 5| TODAY
  27. ^ Singapore 2nd Party Political Broadcast 2011 : WP - Pt5/7 - 06May2011 [HD]| Channel NewsAsia
  28. ^ Singaporean politicians who happen to be women| Must Share News
  29. ^ WP Sylvia Lim leaves Temasek Polytechnic | The Online Citizen
  30. ^ Workers Party MP Sylvia Lim Parliament speech| YouTube
  31. ^ Sylvia Lim, Lee Hsien Loong debate Happiness gauge - 28May2014 | YouTube
  32. ^ Sylvia Lim, Shanmugam clash in Parliament over equitability of Spore's legal system | YouTube
  33. ^ Mr Shanmugam, Ms Sylvia Lim debate Woffles Wu's case | Channel NewsAsia
  34. ^ http://www.asiaone.com/News/Latest%2BNews/Singapore/Story/A1Story20120814-365188.html
  35. ^ Sylvia Lim: Workers' Party opposes Population White Paper | Channel NewsAsia
  36. ^ WP opposes Population White Paper, says its chairman Sylvia Lim | The Straits Times
  37. ^ AIM saga | The Straits Times
  38. ^ WP withdraws motion to debate town council issue in Parliament | AsiaOne
  39. ^ Taking aim at each other | AsiaOne
  40. ^ Sylvia Lim: Little India Riot (Public Order Bill) a knee-jerk reaction | Channel NewsAsia
  41. ^ Sylvia Lim, Teo Chee Hean debate Little India Riot COI (Part 1) | Channel NewsAsia
  42. ^ Room for even more progressive tax system: Sylvia Lim | AsiaOne
  43. ^ How to make Pioneer Generation Package better | AsiaOne
  44. ^ "WP chairman Sylvia Lim's first Instagram post – from Fengshan". TODAY. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  45. ^ "Workers' Party chairman Sylvia Lim's orh luak meal in Fengshan feeds rumours". The Straits Times. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  46. ^ "Vote for a party whom you trust to manage your money and town council: DPM Teo". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  47. ^ "Sylvia Lim on DPM Teo's Fengshan comments". The New Paper. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  48. ^ "GE2015: Recount underway for Aljunied GRC". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  49. ^ "Pushback against growing Opposition movement a factor in PAP vote swing: Sylvia Lim". TODAY. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  50. ^ "Exceptional Nation – An Empowered Nation". The Workers' Party. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  51. ^ "Marathon debate over Bill defining contempt of court". Channel News Asia. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  52. ^ "Law on contempt remains largely the same: Shanmugam". The Straits Times. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  53. ^ "MPs raise concerns over lower bar for scandalising the court". The Straits Times. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  54. ^ "WP takes issue with tweak to Govt Proceedings Act". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  55. ^ "Potential conflict of interest of AGC a matter of concern: Sylvia Lim". Channel News Asia. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  56. ^ "Oxley Road: Attorney-General and his deputy's appointments represent conflict of interest, says Sylvia Lim". The Straits Times. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  57. ^ "Sylvia Lim VS Indranee Rajah on 38 Oxley Road dispute - 03July2017". YouTube. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  58. ^ a b "Parliament: WP calls for national referendum on future of elected presidency". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  59. ^ "Sylvia Lim & Shanmugam battle it out on Elected Presidency scheme". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  60. ^ "Chan Chun Sing dodges Sylvia Lim's question in Parliament". YouTube. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  61. ^ "Teo Chee Hean & Chan Chun Sing vs Sylvia Lim & Leon Perera: Elected Presidency Debate (PE2017)". YouTube. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  62. ^ "Sylvia Lim VS Teo Chee Hean on Presidential Elections Act 2017". YouTube. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  63. ^ "Court of Appeal verdict". Tan Cheng Bock Facebook. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  64. ^ "Tan Cheng Bock's appeal over upcoming Presidential Election dismissed". Channel News Asia. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  65. ^ "Full speeches given by Sylvia Lim & K Shanmugam on the reserved presidential election". Mothership.sg. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  66. ^ "Presidential Election 2017 Writ issued: Nomination Day on Sept 13, Polling on Sept 23". The Straits Times. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  67. ^ "WP's Sylvia Lim files adjournment motion on reserved election for Sept 11 Parliament sitting". The Straits Times. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  68. ^ "WP 'balloted out' in move to speak on reserved election". The Straits Times. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  69. ^ "Sylvia Lim to speak on Presidential Election at Oct 3 Parliament sitting". Channel News Asia. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  70. ^ "Misleading impression on EP decision: Sylvia Lim". The Straits Times. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  71. ^ "Count for reserved Presidential Election was policy decision: Shanmugam". Channel News Asia. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  72. ^ http://www.straitstimes.com/politics/workers-party-opposes-bill-to-amend-criminal-detention-law-calls-changes-unnecessary
  73. ^ https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/government-has-gone-too-far-with-criminal-law-temporary-9933242
  74. ^ http://www.wp.sg/criminal-law-temporary-provisions-amendment-bill-speech-by-sylvia-lim/
  75. ^ http://www.theindependent.sg/sylvia-lim-and-shanmugam-cross-swords-over-untenable-bill-that-allows-for-detentions-without-trial/
  76. ^ http://www.straitstimes.com/politics/shanmugam-labels-wps-arguments-as-theatrics-with-no-substance-calculated-to-mislead
  77. ^ https://www.facebook.com/workersparty/videos/2011314968885076/
  78. ^ https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/budget-2018-debate-wp-sylvia-lim-speech-inequality-9999876
  79. ^ http://www.straitstimes.com/politics/parliament-long-term-study-on-social-inequality-needed-says-wps-sylvia-lim
  80. ^ https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/heng-swee-keat-sylvia-lim-gst-hike-timing-test-balloons-10008524
  81. ^ http://www.straitstimes.com/politics/parliament-shanmugam-calls-sylvia-lim-dishonest-lim-says-she-is-entitled-to-make-gst-trial
  82. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BC9-CT4Y5Gg
  83. ^ http://www.straitstimes.com/politics/parliament-parliament-approves-budget-2018-with-wp-mps-voting-against-it
  84. ^ https://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2018/03/03/online-commenters-rally-against-shanmugams-behaviour-against-sylvia-lim/
  85. ^ http://www.theindependent.sg/in-typical-fashion-law-minister-always-accuses-me-of-dishonesty-sylvia-lim-hits-back-at-shanmugam/
  86. ^ http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/heng-swee-keat-presses-wps-sylvia-lim-withdraw-gst-hike-allegation
  87. ^ https://www.facebook.com/k.shanmugam.page/videos/1635172236529300/
  88. ^ https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/grace-fu-asks-sylvia-lim-apologise-withdraw-gst-test-balloon-10016930
  89. ^ http://www.straitstimes.com/politics/leader-of-the-house-grace-fu-calls-on-wps-sylvia-lim-to-apologise-withdraw-comment-on
  90. ^ https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/sylvia-lim-wp-refuses-to-apologise-test-balloons-gst-grace-fu-10024858
  91. ^ http://statestimesreview.com/2018/03/11/ministers-caught-lying-here-are-the-test-balloons/
  92. ^ http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/exchange-of-words-between-pap-ministers-and-wp-leaders-on-sylvia-lims-gst-hike-comment
  93. ^ http://www.straitstimes.com/politics/sylvia-lim-says-suspicions-may-have-been-wrong-but-did-not-apologise-grace-fu-expresses
  94. ^ http://www.tnp.sg/news/singapore/sylvia-lim-does-not-apologise-grace-fu-disappointed
  95. ^ https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/parliament/videos/march/wp-s-sylvia-lim-refuses-to-apologise-to-house-but-admits-test-10025530
  96. ^ https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/wps-chairman-sylvia-lims-refusal-apologise-withdraw-allegation-not-honourable-conduct
  97. ^ http://www.straitstimes.com/politics/important-for-govt-to-remove-any-doubt-about-timing-of-gst-hike-to-protect-its-integrity
  98. ^ https://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2018/03/11/pap-government-seeks-legal-avenue-against-sylvia-lim-after-failing-to-apologise-in-test-balloons-saga/
  99. ^ https://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2018/03/11/tan-cheng-bock-pap-ministers-brow-beating-sylvia-lim-for-apology/
  100. ^ https://mothership.sg/2018/03/chicken-rice-stall-price-story/
  101. ^ "ACCORD". News AsiaOne. Retrieved 2017-04-01.
  102. ^ "Sylvia Lim and Quah Kim Song: The politician and the legend". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2017-11-09.
  103. ^ "WP's Sylvia Lim talks about romance with boyfriend in new book on power women in Singapore". Asia One. Retrieved 2017-11-09.
  104. ^ "Workers' Party MP talks about her faith and life". Catholic News. Retrieved 2017-04-01.
  105. ^ http://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/entertainment/actress-and-director-claire-wong-leads-the-way-with-excellence

External linksEdit

Political offices
Parliament of Singapore
Preceded by
Steve Chia
Non-Constituency Member of Parliament
2006–2011
Succeeded by
Lina Chiam
Yee Jenn Jong
Gerald Giam
Preceded by
Lim Hwee Hua
Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC
2011 – present
Incumbent