A Malaysian-Born Former PDRM Constable Has Just Been Elected As An MP In Australia
Meet Bon Cheng Lim, better known as Sam Lim
He was born in Johor, Malaysia in 1961. He migrated to Australia some 40 years later in 2002.
The 61-year-old has just scored an unlikely election victory over the Liberal Party of Australia's Ben Morton. He will now be a member of parliament (MP) for Tangney in Perth, representing the Australian Labor Party.
Nothing about his life and the subsequent journey, however, had any inclination that this former Johorian, who at one point worked as a dolphin trainer, would go on to be elected an MP in Western Australia.
One of eight children, Lim grew up in a very poor family in Johor
According to Lim, his childhood home had a leaky roof, dirt floor, and no running water.
"So we had to struggle for the first 15 years of my life. But that 15 years built me up to today," he said while addressing the Australian media Sunday morning, 22 May.
Growing up, he always dreamt of being a cop in Malaysia. And he did, for a while at least.
"I served for two years as a police constable with the Royal Malaysia Police Force (PDRM)," Lim said, adding that he, however, couldn't survive as one "because the pay (at the time) was so low".
Lim's next job was his "best job ever" — that of a dolphin trainer at a safari park.
"I applied for another job, my best job ever, dolphin trainer. I love it because dolphins are so genuine, dolphins never hurt you. If you feel hurt you jump into the swimming pool and the dolphin will come to you and try to comfort you. If you got angry and you jump into the pool, they run away," he said with a laugh.
That was the best part of my career.
His career as a dolphin trainer, too, came to an end when creditors moved in on the safari park.
Describing the mixed emotions he felt when he had to bid farewell to his beloved dolphins, Lim said that it was the worst part of his career at the time, but he was happy that the dolphins were back in their home.
After his brief stints in PDRM and as a dolphin trainer, Lim went on to run several small businesses in Malaysia and achieved success
Attributing his success to his "good karma", Lim said that it was made possible by the people who supported him and eventually enabled him to move to Australia with his wife and three children.
As a successful businessman, Lim had planned his retirement at the age of 45. However, he abandoned it when a close friend reminded him of his childhood dream of becoming a police officer.
So in 2006, at the age of 45, he joined the Western Australian Police Force.
After over a decade in 2020, Lim would go on to be awarded the Police Officer of the Year for his work with multicultural communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"[Being] a police officer is a great job, I love the blue uniform," he said, adding that the job allowed him to "travel all over Western Australia and understand the customs of the state".
Lim cherishes his Chinese/Malay heritage and speaks not one or two but a whopping 10 languages including Malay, Mandarin, and Burmese
"Language is an important element in communication,” he said, adding, "For example, when you meet Hokkiens and they hear you speak Hokkien, the barriers dissolve."
Lim's expertise became particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic, during which he was tasked with informing community groups about the latest updates and dispelling misleading information.
After he received the Western Australian Police Force's highest honour for his work, Lim was approached by the Australian Labor Party to run in the Division of Tangney.
The 61-year-old is now the second Malaysian-born elected representative in Australia. Prior to Lim, it was Penelope Ying-Yen Wong, who is due to take office tomorrow, 23 May as Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Penny was born on 5 November 1968 in Kota Kinabalu to a Malaysian Chinese father and Australian mother. After her parents separated, she moved to Adelaide, South Australia, at the age of eight.
Until 2001, Penny was a Malaysian citizen.
A member of the Australian Labor Party, she has been a Senator for South Australia since 2002. She was Australia's first Minister for Climate Change from 2007 to 2010 and Minister for Finance from 2010 to 2013.
Penny is the first female openly gay Australian federal parliamentarian, and was an instrumental figure in the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Australia in 2017, according to 9News.