For those who have kept a close eye on the 2022 elections and the new batch of Parliamentarians who got elected, you would have noticed a vast sea of diversity – with Parliamentarians coming from different cultures. For those with an Asian cultural background there are 10 in Australian Parliament – 7 of which are joining the class of 2022 – 6 Members of Parliament and 1 Senator. Sam Lim who was elected as the new Member for Tangney in Western Australia is part of this new class, and won his seat with 52.4% of the vote and causing a major swing towards Labor of 11.9%.
The seat was previously help by Liberal MP Ben Moreton with a 9.5% margin, which is generally considered to be a difficult margin for any candidate to win over – but Lim accomplished this. Moreton held this seat for close to 5 years, and it has been a seat held safely by the Liberals since 1953. So in any case, the win is one which was earned by Lim and his campaign team who worked tirelessly since day 1 to get the voters of Tangney to vote for a clear change. And in the end they did.
In terms of Asian population in the electorate of Tangney, according to the 2021 Australian Census, 16.5% of the population within the electorate of Tangney come from a Chinese ancestry. This is a significant increase from the last Australian census in 2016 which recorded 10.4% of the population having Chinese ancestry.
This is why the aspect of cultural background, language and being able to understand certain sensitivities and nuances is extremely important. Lim has that skill – the skill to communicate in different languages including a number of Chinese languages ( asides from English), being a community worker previously in his role as a WA police officer and his perseverance in his campaign to engage with the community, showing the voters of Tangney he is not there to take the votes for granted.
100% – language is a good skill to have as it helps reach out and communicate with different communities at a deeper level and breaks the ice. However, at the heart of community engagement, language is just one part but understanding culture, sensitivities, being honest and respectful is at the heart of it all. If you are dishonest, people can feel that and know that you are telling lies – this is true no matter what language you speak.
I think as a member of Parliament, your heart must be for the people and not for yourself. You need to cultivate good intentions. I have met with many, many people I don’t know and they don’t know me. Since the election win, they have come up to me and gave me a pat on the back or a hand shake and congratulate me.
Lim continues to talk about how he took the political plunge as he is not getting younger and wanted to make his life shine. At 61, Lim did get elected in 2022 against many odds and he hopes with his win he can contribute and show others like him who came to Australia as migrants that embracing Australia also means serving Australia in different capacities. Lim, now can serve the community as a member of Parliament.
When I worked as a police officer in Perth, that took up the working hours of the week. My children were grown up and were independent so I used my spare time to serve the local community. I knew that even though I may get rejection from the community, I continued to reach out and gave talks about crime prevention, how to report issues to the police, how to precent being a victim of crime and many other things, Lim said.
I have been doing this for many years and as a result of my community service, I was awarded the honour of being the “Police Officer of the Year in 2020”. After receiving that award, I realised that many community members, especially those coming from a migrant background had a lack of understanding on this around Medicare, the health system and our system of government, and this was the primary reasons why I got into politics, because if I knew then if I got elected as a member of Parliament, I can help more people. So, when the Labor Party approached me to run as their candidate for Tangney, I said yes – if God willing and I did get elected, I can do more things for the community.
Finally, what message does Lim have for Malaysian in Malaysia and in Australia, who are proud to see someone like them enter Australian politics – and what message does he have for Asian/Asian Australians in Tangney and all across the country?
I want more Malaysians and Singaporeans and all Asians to run for politics because I need more company in Parliament and I do not want to be a Lone Ranger. I hope I can influence change for the better and convince more people to join this path and work together with me.
I also want to tell everyone that a member of Parliament is not the boss of someone. We are all public servants and we serve everyone. We have to prove to you that we deserve your vote and support. I would like anyone to come to see me at my office and knock on my door because if I and my office can, we will help you. I always say to my staff we are at “34”. They will ask me what that means and I say its the probationary period we are in and that is for 34 months before the next election and every time we are re-elected or get elected we are in a forever probation. You are all my boss and I want my boss to give me some work to do to build this nation.
Today ( Tuesday 23rd August), the Asian Australian Alliance (AAA) in collaboration with the Australian Malaysian Singaporean Association (AMSA) at 3:30pm AEST/1:30pm WST via Zoom. Please click on the Eventbrite link to RSVP and if you can’t make it there will be a recording made available on their social media pages.