Quah Kim Song, 63, is a widower, a grandfather, and one of Singapore’s most iconic footballers.
Sylvia Lim, 50, is a fiery opposition speaker, known for her steely demeanor in her face offs against the People’s Action Party (PAP) in her parliamentary debates. She has never been married.
Quah was a bright student at Naval Base Secondary School and Raffles Institution, but he devoted his energy to football after his A levels. He worked several corporate jobs before retiring.
Ms Lim studied at the CHIJ Our Lady of Good Counsel, CHIJ St Joseph’s Convent and National Junior College. She graduated with a law degree and became a senior associate with Peter Low LLC.
Although both do not appear to have anything in common, apart from the fact that they are both celebrities in their own fields. They fell in love in January 2013 at a Workers’ Party (WP) variety concert. Mutual friends had coaxed Quah to sing his rendition of Keith Locke & The Quests’ Don’t Play That Song, which left a deep impression on Ms Lim. Later that night they danced on stage, and the rest is history.
It has been more than two years since they met and, says Quah: “We are very happy just going with the flow without any preconceptions about what the future might bring.”
“As both of us are not spring chickens, we accept each other totally and do not change the other.” Ms Lim adds.
So what was it that drew their completely unrelated worlds together? The answer: Common interests in music and football.
Quah, who loves the oldies and lists American icon James Taylor as his favourite singer, says: “I practise the guitar every day to familiarise myself with the chords to widen my repertoire.
“I also have a guitar at Sylvia’s family home. We enjoy listening to live music and occasionally sing at home over some drinks.”
These sessions help Ms Lim relax from the stress that comes with politics.
She, too, enjoys the oldies and is a big fan of US singer-songwriter Carole King.
As for their other passion, football, Ms Lim would make it a point to attend social matches when Quah is playing. He remains a drawcard among fanatical fans.
Recently, at a social match at the Marina Floating Platform, Ms Lim made her presence felt by cheering for Quah’s team.
Hers is not a new craze. She watched Quah during his heyday at the National Stadium, accompanying her brother Arthur to Malaysia Cup matches.
“I am a retiree, so I have more freedom with my time. Sylvia is a busy person, so we occupy different time slots,” adds the grandfather of twins Renee and Ryan, three, from his daughter Leonora, 31.
Quah, who was married to Madam Shirley Wang, a bank manager with OCBC, also has a son, Leon, 35, who is married but has no children. Madam Wang died of cancer in 2007.
Quah adds that Ms Lim has a special relationship with his children and siblings and “she joins social gatherings involving my children, and my brothers and sisters”.
When he was once asked how he feels about dating one of Singapore’s most prominent women politicians, Quah replied: “I know her as Sylvia Lim, and not Sylvia Lim, chairman of Workers’ Party.”
For him, more importantly: “We are enjoying our time together and hope to be together for a long time.”
But no, while they are a “couple”, marriage is far from their minds.
Unsurprisingly because of Ms Lim’s public stature, Mr Quah, who prefers to remain low profile, was launched into the spotlight once more when Ms Lim revealed at a rally that Quah “will act as her driver, ferrying her to rally sites and other places”.
Quah says he enjoys doing that, adding: “When people see us, they do come up to say ‘hello’ or take pictures with us.
“I must say that the police at the rallies have been quite nice to me.”
Quah’s chauffeuring job is a way for them to see each other during the election campaign period, when Ms Lim is swamped with party matters.
There is also some speculation online and offline that Quah was the one who encouraged Ms Lim to raise the issue of the Football Association of Singapore being run by PAP Members of Parliament. This has led to the stifling of local football, said Ms Lim in parliament.
In her response, Ms Lim replied: “No, he did not alert me. I have raised the issue of Singapore soccer slipping down the Fifa rankings in Parliament before I met Kim Song.
“In the Workers’ Party manifesto in 2011 and earlier, we had already proposed that sports associations be led by persons from the fraternity (rather) than by politicians.”