ST MindYourBody: Balancing politics and life

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CHAIRMAN OF THE OPPOSITION WORKERS’ PARTY AND NON-CONSTITUENCY MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT SYLVIA LIM WANTS TO BE WHERE SHE IS NEEDED. THE 41-YEAR OLD POLITICIAN TELLS JUDITH TAN THAT SHE MAKES IT A POINT TO EXERCISE AND CHILL WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY SO AS NOT TO BURN OUT.


JACQUELINE ONG
Politician Sylvia Lim enjoys working out and sipping wine with loved ones to chill out.

You hit the headlines when you became chairman of the opposition Workers’ Party. Was it a trial?

Certainly, it was not a “tryout”, if that’s what you mean. It is a responsibility I have undertaken to fulfil so long as it moves the party forward.

How did you prepare yourself, your voice and your stamina for the role?

No deliberate preparation in the physical sense. Knowledge-wise, I try to read as much as I can about public policy matters so as to make informed contributions and to note social trends. However, maintaining balance is important – so I make it a point to exercise, and meet family and friends so as not to burn out.

How about getting candid in front of a crowd or for the camera?

I will give my frank opinions but when it comes to confidential matters within the party or my personal life, that should be protected.

You have been referred to as telegenic. What do you think of that?

A compliment. I have never thought of myself as such, and in fact, I avoid watching myself on TV as I tend to be very self-critical.

Now that you are a recognisable figure, is keeping trim on top of the agenda? If not, then what is?

At the public level, top of the agenda is to keep tabs on public policy concerns and hence, doing a lot of homework, especially to prepare for my Non-Constituency MP role. Of course, taking care of my health is important to ensure that I can go the distance.

Too tough to get stage fright?

There are times when I feel apprehensive, especially if I have not done something before – for example, my first few general election rally speeches. But I do learn and adapt.

What does it mean to be a member of the opposition?

It means having to perform better than the People’s Action Party. We have less resources and infrastructure, so we must be very nimble and committed.

Why not simply join the ranks?

I want to be where I am needed. There is really no need at all for me to carry coal to Newcastle.

How do you deal with public attention?

So far it has been fine. I find it very rewarding when members of the public come up to me to talk about politics or their worries in the supermarket or on the street.

Do you have a wild side?

Of course. There are hedonistic tendencies… but as one gets older, these tend to become a bit more civilised.

Not one for spiritual solace?

I do embrace my Catholic religion, and attend mass regularly. When in doubt, I pray to do the right thing.

Ever get intimidated by age?

I did not like turning 40 but I have got over it already!

Which would you prefer to last – being healthy, wealthy or wise?

I suppose being healthy. Wealth is not important to me. Wisdom is but it will not be easy being wise but sickly.

How do you keep fit and healthy?

I exercise about three times a week. I enjoy running outdoors but due to long-lasting ankle injuries, I have had to cross-train with swimming and gym work.

Do you find keeping fit a pleasure or pain?

Definitely a pleasure. It helps me so much to bring up my energy and concentration levels.

How do you kick-start your day?

Caffeine (coffee) is necessary.

How do you chill out?

Exercise, and having wine with family and friends.

Do you have a motto?

To live life as fully as possible and without fear.

What then is your greatest fear?

My greatest fear is overstaying my welcome in anything I do. By that, I mean staying where you are no longer contributing.

Email: juditht@sph.com.sg

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