GE 2015

No nuptials on the cards for Sylvia Lim of Workers’ Party

Former soccer hero Quah Kim Song (left) and WP chairman Sylvia Lim. PHOTO: SYLVIALIM65/INSTAGRAM
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Marriage is not on the cards for WP chairman Sylvia Lim as she is at the stage where enjoying the relationship is more important. She opened up about her boyfriend of more than two years Quah Kim Song, as well as her struggles with her father's health problems over the years.

SINGAPORE - Marriage is not on the cards for Workers' Party (WP) chairman Sylvia Lim and her boyfriend of more than two years, retired football star Quah Kim Song, as they are happy with where the relationship is at.

"People do ask us often when we're getting married. But we have discussed this and he's already a grandfather and we're enjoying our relationship as it is now, so we have no plans to get married at this point. We do not know if things will change but, at the moment, we're quite happy with the way things are," Ms Lim told The Straits Times.

Despite her increasingly busy schedule as the party kicks into high gear for the polls, they have been meeting every day.

"Kim Song is a very understanding person so he would try to get out of the way when I've got work to do," said Ms Lim, 50, wearing a top emblazoned with football powerhouse Brazil's flag during the interview.

They have even devised a way to see each other during the impending campaign, as Mr Quah will act as her driver, ferrying her to rally sites and other places.

Ms Lim also opened up in the exclusive interview about her wish to spend more time with her parents - who are in their late 70s - and her struggles with her father's ill health due to strokes and dementia.

"He was always a great supporter of the WP when I joined it 14 years ago and he was so proud when I went on to be sworn in as a Non-Constituency MP in 2006," she said, adding that both her parents attended the ceremony.

"But in between, before the 2011 General Election, he had two strokes so he was not able to come when I was elected."

Parenthood is not something that Ms Lim will experience "as being a mother is past my age now" and she will not consider procedures such as in vitro fertilisation, she said.

"I suppose I have missed out on something very special - being a mother. But that was where my life took me so I just have to enjoy my life the way it is."

But the topic of marriage and children is still regularly brought up to her, she said, recounting a "hilarious" incident at an event she attended. "Somebody came up to me and said 'Zao sheng gui zi' (may you have a son soon) and I looked at the person - 'Do you know how old I am? What are you trying to tell me?' " she said with a laugh.

As for being a woman in politics, Ms Lim said: "I think my gender is just a fact. I don't like to dwell on it in any way and I don't expect people to treat me differently because I'm a woman or to judge me by different standards."

Ms Lim was 36 when she joined politics. Looking back on that decision and her journey, she referred to a book by US public speaker Brene Brown titled Daring Greatly. "The fundamental message of that book is that sometimes we may be very self-critical and face criticism from others as well," she said.

"But we should always remember there's something to celebrate about the endeavour itself. And people who are prepared to come forward to be criticised should also sometimes cut ourselves some slack."

Chong Zi Liang and Tham Yuen-C

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2015, with the headline No nuptials on the cards for Sylvia Lim of Workers’ Party. Subscribe