SDA Leader Did Not Utter His First Word Until He Was 7, But Was First To Hold Online Rally In 2013

Having contested in 4 prior General Elections (GEs), Mr Desmond Lim Bak Chuan, the current leader of the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA), may not be too unfamiliar to most Singaporeans.

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However, more Singaporeans might remember him through a parody video that poked fun at his articulation during a 2013 online rally.

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Despite being mocked by the people he had hoped to serve, the 53-year-old continues to walk the ground and is likely to contest in the coming GE.

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Here are 8 things you should know about Mr Desmond Lim and why he’s the living embodiment of values like determination and grit.

1. Videos mocking his English pronunciation were made

Unfortunately, Mr Lim is arguably most known for his 2013 online rally, which sparked a video parody that poked fun at his less-than-perfect pronunciation.

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When asked about the video, the now 53-year-old said that he wasn’t bothered by the criticism and was more concerned about how he can assist others.

2. He’s an OG in holding online rallies

The online rally 7 years ago may have made Mr Lim famous for the wrong reasons, but no one would have predicted that he was ahead of his time, and the experience would prove useful in GE2020.

That’s because due to the Covid-19 situation, physical rallies are banned, and all campaigning has to take place via online rallies.

Maybe his experience will give him an edge over other candidates? At least, he’ll probably be better prepared this time around and will have no problems getting his messages across to voters.

3. He started speaking when he was 7

There’s actually a story behind Mr Lim’s speech difficulties.

Speaking to The New Paper, Mr Lim said that his poor pronunciation of English words was due to him not attending pre-school.

He also had a speech disability that wasn’t diagnosed until he was 7 years old, as his family couldn’t afford to send him to a doctor.

He reportedly uttered his first words when he thanked members of an opera troupe for giving him a bowl of rice.

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Despite the disadvantages he had from young, Mr Lim is still able to converse effectively.

Judge for yourself in this video from 2013, where he can be seen chatting with Punggol East residents effectively in English, Chinese and dialect.

4. He slept on the streets when he was young

Mr Lim came from a rather modest background.

According to him, he grew up in a pre-war house in Jalan Berseh that was so small that he and his brother were forced to “sleep on the street“.

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Uncomfortable as that was, it got worse when it rained, as floods often occurred and the mats they were sleeping on would get wet.

5. He ate leftover bread crumbs for meals

Sustenance was also an issue that he had to deal with when he was young.

Unable to afford food, the siblings would wait outside a bread factory for crumbs to fill their tummies.

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They would then save these up for their breakfast, lunch and dinner.

6. He’s now an engineer by training

However, despite such an underprivileged childhood, Mr Lim didn’t give up on life.

He managed to become an engineer by training, just like many other politicians with storied backgrounds in professional disciplines like medicine or law.

He graduated with a Master’s degree in engineering management from the University of Wollongong in Australia, and has worked as a principal engineer in M1.

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7. He’s a family man

Mr Lim might be a public figure whenever the elections are around the corner, but deep down, he’s a family man.

Besides his wife and 8-year-old son, he also has 2 goddaughters who live with him.

In a video interview, Mr Lim’s wife said he treats the 2 goddaughters like his own.

One of them even said that she would often go to Mr Lim whenever she was down as he’s “good at cheering people up“.

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8. He’s already ran in 4 previous GEs & 1 by-election

Mr Lim’s story as a politician is also one of perseverance – he’s already contested in 4 GEs, and not won a single one of them.

He also ran in the 2013 Punggol East by-election, and lost his deposit. In fact, he also lost his deposit in the 2011 General Election, when he also ran in Punggol East.

Despite the repeated defeats, the SDA leader is likely to run in his 5th GE this year. That’s persistence for you.

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According to The Straits Times, he has said that for GE2020 he and his team will only contest Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC — a familiar ground, where the SDA has been contesting for the last 3 elections in 2006, 2011 and 2015.

They’ve already been seen tirelessly working the ground in Pasir Ris, so much so that his team member Harminder Singh was taken to hospital due to fatigue.

The values he stands for are universal

At the end of the day, you might not care about Mr Lim’s policies, but there’s no doubt that he has shown perseverance and determination – life values that are important and universal.

He will be hoping that more Singaporeans will be able to see past the communication barrier and recognise him for the person he truly is.

Featured image adapted from Facebook and Facebook