In recent weeks, Singapore Democratic Alliance’s secretary-general Desmond Lim Bak Chuan, 47, has become the target of a vicious smear campaign online when an old campaign video of his went viral on Facebook last week.
The 55-second clip mocking Mr Lim was edited from a 2013 video titled “Why Vote For Desmond Lim?: SDA Punggol East By-Elections Online Rally”. Netizens ridiculed Lim for his bad diction, which was further distorted by derisive subtitles that made fun of his poor pronunciation of key words and phrases.
When asked by reporters for his thoughts on this episode, he said his command of the English language should not be used to judge his abilities to serve the residents.
“Whoever did that, I don’t know what is his or her intention, but why go personal? You want to fault me, fault me on policy issues.
“I have been in politics for 23 years. I have spent my life serving people. No matter how bad my command of the language is, I don’t deserve such a treatment.”
Mr Lim was at the party’s walkabout at Punggol Plaza yesterday, where party members gave out brochures to residents.
SDA is contesting the six-member Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC in the upcoming general elections.
“I’m not bothered and concerned about what people think about me. I’m bothered about how I can help others,” he said.
“That’s the past. We cannot be run down by our past. If we are held on by our past, we cannot progress.”
He added that there are those who like to judge people despite not having met them personally.
“People can say anything. You can’t control them. There will be people who like me, there are those who don’t.”
Mr Lim said he has had problems speaking since a very young age. He did not attend pre-school and started speaking only at age seven, when he could not even spell his own name or read from A to Z.
“People thought it was a late development where you can talk when you grow older,” said Mr Lim, who is a principal engineer with a telco.
He said that his speaking disability was never diagnosed as his parents had been too poor to take him to a doctor.
He overcame his challenges and went on to obtain a Masters in Engineering Management, despite taking five years instead of the usual three years for part-time study.
To help him understand the lecturers, he would draw pictures and write his notes in Chinese.
In response to the viral video, a supporter has edited a 2011 YouTube video titled “Unlimited Belief” to explain why Mr Lim does not speak eloquently.
A friend of Mr Lim even likened him to a 2004 American Idol contestant, Mr William Hung, who became famous despite being mocked for his off-key audition performance of Ricky Martin’s hit song “She Bangs” in the reality talent search programme.
In response, Mr Lim said: “I always believe I am who I am. You want to say I am Singapore’s William Hung, I’m okay.”