|Chairman of the Workers' Party|
|Preceded by||Tan Bin Seng|
|Member of Parliament
for Aljunied GRC (Serangoon)
7 May 2011
|Preceded by||Lim Hwee Hua (PAP)|
|Member of Parliament
6 May 2006 – 7 May 2011
|Preceded by||Steve Chia|
|Succeeded by||Lina Chiam
Yee Jenn Jong
|Born||Sylvia Lim Swee Lian
28 March 1965
|Political party||Workers' Party (2003)|
|Alma mater||National University of Singapore
University College London
Michigan State University
|Profession||Lawyer, law lecturer at Temasek Polytechnic|
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, 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. Lim previously served in the Singapore Police Force and subsequently joined Temasek Polytechnic as a law lecturer.
Education and early career
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, and was called to the Bar in Singapore in 1991.
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).[third-party source needed]
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.
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.
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.
2006 General Election
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%). 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 NCMP.
NCMP term: 2006 - 2011
During her term in Parliament, Lim spoke out against ministers' salaries, 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. In addition, she also called for a reduction in the Goods and Services Tax, arguing that it was a regressive tax, and urged the government to do more to help retrenched workers.
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.
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. She also suggested giving concessionary fares to disabled individuals who make up 2% of the adult population under 60 years.
Lim expressed concerns about a proposed constitutional amendment introduced in April 2010 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. 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. 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.
The following month, during parliamentary debates on major revisions to the Criminal Procedure Code, 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. The bill eventually incorporated several of her suggestions.
In 2011, Lim noted that the Compulsory Education Act 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. These concerns were supported by Penny Low, MP for Pasir Ris–Punggol GRC.
2011 General Election
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". 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."
Lim was returned as an elected Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC after her team won 54.71% 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.
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.
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. 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.[third-party source needed]
First term: 2011 - 2015
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). 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". 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".
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. Lim noted the "aggravating factors", such as the fact that Wu had abetted someone to provide false information to the police, and he had committed more than one offence over a prolonged period.
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". 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.
The AIM saga, 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. Then Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan accused Lim of being "self-righteous" and "arrogant", 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.
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. Lim further expressed concerns with regards to newly imposed liquor control regulations, as well as policing resources and manpower required to handle such occurences.
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.
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.
2015 General Election
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[disambiguation needed] Hawker Centre. The accompanying caption read "The taste of Fengshan - heavenly!" and a cryptic hashtag "#ReasonsToWin". 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". Lim later replied that it was "unfortunate" that Teo "does not seem to have a sense of humour".
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%. 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". 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.
Second term: 2016 - Present
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".
In a sharp exchange with Law Minister K Shanmugam which lasted seven hours, 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". Lim ended her speech as such,
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".
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". 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. Lim also voted against the constitutional amendments on the Elected Presidency Act in 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. 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". Lim further called for a national referendum for Singaporeans to decide whether the public preferred an elected or appointed president.
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)
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. 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. Lim's mother was a nurse.
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.
- Sylvia Lim | Parliament Of Singapore
- "Sylvia Lim to re-enter legal practice". Yahoo Singapore. Retrieved 2017-03-31.
- [news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/sylvia-lim-living-life-meaning?nopaging=1 "Sylvia Lim: Living a Life of Meaning"] Check
|url=value (help). News AsiaOne. Retrieved 2017-03-31.
- "Sylvia Lim". Peter Low LLC. Retrieved 2016-11-19.
- "Parliamentary General Election 2006". SINGAPORE ELECTIONS. Retrieved 9 May 2011.
- "Singapore General Elections 2011 Guide". Yahoo. Retrieved 9 May 2011.
- "Sylvia Lim speaks up on Ministers' Pay". YouTube. Retrieved 31 Mar 2017.
- "NCMP Sylvia Lim on CPF Life & Mean Testing at Budget 2008". YouTube. Retrieved 31 Mar 2017.
- "NCMP Sylvia Lim on Budget 2008 and GST hike". YouTube. Retrieved 31 Mar 2017.
- "NCMP Sylvia Lim suggested GST cut and helping retrenched". YouTube. Retrieved 31 Mar 2017.
- 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.
- Sylvia Lim (NCMP), "Head K – Ministry of Education", Singapore Parliamentary Debates, Official Report (10 March 2010), vol. 86, col. 3709ff.
- Sylvia Lim (NCMP), "Head W – Ministry of Transport", Singapore Parliamentary Debates, Official Report (11 March 2010), vol. 86, col. 3978ff.
- Eventually enacted as the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Amendment) Act 2010 (No. 9 of 2010).
- 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."
- 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.
- 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.
- Enacted as the Criminal Procedure Code 2010 (No. 15 of 2010) (now Cap. 68, 2012 Rev. Ed.).
- Sylvia Lim (NCMP), "Criminal Procedure Code", Singapore Parliamentary Debates, Official Report (18 May 2010), vol. 87, col. 407ff.
- 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.
- Compulsory Education Act (Cap. 51, 2001 Rev. Ed.).
- Sylvia Lim (NCMP), "Head K – Ministry of Education", Singapore Parliamentary Debates, Official Report (7 March 2011), vol. 87, no column numbers assigned yet.
- 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.
- WP's Sylvia Lim at Aljunied GRC rally, May 5| TODAY
- Singapore 2nd Party Political Broadcast 2011 : WP - Pt5/7 - 06May2011 [HD]| Channel NewsAsia
- Singaporean politicians who happen to be women| Must Share News
- WP Sylvia Lim leaves Temasek Polytechnic | The Online Citizen
- Workers Party MP Sylvia Lim Parliament speech| YouTube
- Sylvia Lim, Lee Hsien Loong debate Happiness gauge - 28May2014 | YouTube
- Sylvia Lim, Shanmugam clash in Parliament over equitability of Spore's legal system | YouTube
- Mr Shanmugam, Ms Sylvia Lim debate Woffles Wu's case | Channel NewsAsia
- Sylvia Lim: Workers' Party opposes Population White Paper | Channel NewsAsia
- WP opposes Population White Paper, says its chairman Sylvia Lim | The Straits Times
- AIM saga | The Straits Times
- WP withdraws motion to debate town council issue in Parliament | AsiaOne
- Taking aim at each other | AsiaOne
- Sylvia Lim: Little India Riot (Public Order Bill) a knee-jerk reaction | Channel NewsAsia
- Sylvia Lim, Teo Chee Hean debate Little India Riot COI (Part 1) | Channel NewsAsia
- Room for even more progressive tax system: Sylvia Lim | AsiaOne
- How to make Pioneer Generation Package better | AsiaOne
- "WP chairman Sylvia Lim's first Instagram post – from Fengshan". TODAY. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
- "Workers' Party chairman Sylvia Lim's orh luak meal in Fengshan feeds rumours". The Straits Times. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
- "Vote for a party whom you trust to manage your money and town council: DPM Teo". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
- "Sylvia Lim on DPM Teo's Fengshan comments". The New Paper. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
- "GE2015: Recount underway for Aljunied GRC". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
- "Pushback against growing Opposition movement a factor in PAP vote swing: Sylvia Lim". TODAY. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
- "Exceptional Nation – An Empowered Nation". The Workers' Party. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
- "Marathon debate over Bill defining contempt of court". Channel News Asia. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
- "Law on contempt remains largely the same: Shanmugam". The Straits Times. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
- "MPs raise concerns over lower bar for scandalising the court". The Straits Times. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
- "WP takes issue with tweak to Govt Proceedings Act". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
- "Parliament: WP calls for national referendum on future of elected presidency". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
- "Sylvia Lim & Shanmugam battle it out on Elected Presidency scheme". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
- "ACCORD". News AsiaOne. Retrieved 2017-04-01.
- [news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/sylvia-lim-living-life-meaning?nopaging=1 "Sylvia Lim: Living a life of meaning"] Check
|url=value (help). News AsiaOne. Retrieved 2017-04-01.
- "Workers' Party MP talks about her faith and life". Catholic News. Retrieved 2017-04-01.
- Sylvia Lim's CV at the Singapore Parliament website
|Parliament of Singapore|
|Non-Constituency Member of Parliament
Yee Jenn Jong
Lim Hwee Hua
|Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC
2011 – present