Streats: Ready for hell

New Workers’ Party cadre willing to lose all to stand up for what she believes in

By Yong Hui Mien

‘I have no regrets joining WP. The path ahead is very uncertain, but I will regret more if I did not take that step to join.’ – Ms Lim

WHEN law lecturer Sylvia Lim Swee Lian, 37, decided to join the Workers’ Party, she resigned herself to two things: She might find herself in jail one day and she might be declared a bankrupt.

And when her friends learnt she was entering opposition politics, they too advised her to get her personal finances in order, just in case.

Even her father joked that she would land up in the lock-up one day, she said. While such thinking might be a major reason why so few Singaporeans join opposition political parties, Ms Lim, the WP’s new cadre, said yesterday she was prepared to go to jail or through hell to uphold her beliefs.

Nothing will stand between her and her convictions, she said in an interview with Streats.

And one conviction is that there is an urgent need for diverse voices in the opposition camp.

“Nobody encouraged me to join politics,” she said. “Who would? This is Singapore, you know.”

Recalling her former job as a police inspector from 1991 to 1994, she said: “I have seen what can happen to people sometimes, like lawsuits and bankruptcies.

“I know what the score is. We only live life once and I refuse to live in fear. That’s my philosophy.”

Ms Lim, who is single, joined the WP soon after the General Election last November.

The spunky law lecturer at Temasek Polytechnic decided to join the opposition party after the PAP took 75 per cent of the seats at the election. WP’s leader, Mr Low Thia Khiang, won in Hougang.

She recalled: “I sent a card to congratulate Mr Low after the General Election, along with a donation for the party. I also expressed my interest to contribute to the party. When he called me back, I was very excited, but I couldn’t answer the phone because I was teaching a class. We met later in Tampines.

“I think he wanted to size me up – to see if I was a lunatic or if I have any personal agenda for wanting to join the party.”

Besides being a council member in the party’s policy-making central executive committee, Ms Lim is also the chairman of the WP’s Party Vision Manifestal Committee and a member of the Policy and Current Affairs Committee.

Being in the opposition doesn’t mean being being anti-PAP, she stressed.

“We are not here to bring down the Government. It’s not our intention. They have been doing all right the past few years.

“I am aware of the broad government concerns, like I can see their operational considerations. This gives me a balanced view. I have become more realistic in my expectations.”

But more can be done, she added.

“The WP has always been speaking for working class and the less well-off. I agree with this platform.”

She and five other new WP members who joined since last June will be introduced at an anniversary dinner on Nov 16.

She got me thinking


AS a typically apathetic third-generation, or 3G, Singaporean, I have never felt excited about local politics.

It didn’t help that my constituency, Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, had a walkover in the last General Election.

We complain that the political scene is one-sided but we do nothing about it. And we expect someone else to do the dirty job of championing our rights.

But my meeting yesterday with Ms Sylvia Lim, 37, a new Workers’ Party cadre, set me thinking and made me somewhat ashamed of my apathy.

At the end of our hour-long chat, I went away impressed with her.

I was particularly touched by her willingness to sacrifice her privacy and her time.

That someone ensconced in a secure, well-paying job as a law lecturer is willing to brave all odds and fight the mighty machinery of the PAP is in itself admirable.

Ms Lim is currently sacrificing her weekends to pore over tedious parliamentary bills to help WP leader Low Thia Khiang prepare for debates in the House.

If she becomes a party election candidate one day, she will have to do much more – keep in touch with Singaporeans and carry out a myriad of party programmes.

I admire her guts. Rightly or wrongly, she believes there are dangers in opposition politics, yet she is going ahead, come hell or high water.

Why does she bother?

Ms Lim said the PAP’s one-party voice in Parliament is too strong. There must be diverse voices. She hopes more younger Singaporeans will follow her steps and enter the arena.

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