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Duty and Sacrifice: Proud to be a Third-Generation Officer

Following in his late grandfather and father’s footsteps, SUPT (RET) David Lim is the third generation of his family to serve SPF. He explains why he wouldn’t have chosen any other path.
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PHOTO: Joash Tan

“I never actually knew my father; he died when I was only nine months old,” shared David.

His father, Inspector (INSP) Allan Lim Kim Sai, sacrificed his life in an encounter with the notorious kidnapper Morgan Teo in 1965. Deployed to carry out a raid on Teo’s hideout in Siang Lim Park, INSP Lim was shot in the line of duty and later passed on in the hospital. He was only 28 years old. 

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While some would think that the death of his father would deter David from joining the Singapore Police Force (SPF), he never gave it much thought. In fact, it was only in his later years that David got a sense of his father, through the recollections of other officers who’d known him. 

A Carefree Childhood
The stories that filled David’s childhood were those by his grandfather, INSP (RET) Lim Choon Seng, who’d joined the Force in 1934. He'd recount to David stories of fighting against the Communists in the Malayan Emergency during the 1960s. 

As the Chief Drill Instructor at the old Police Training School, the senior Mr Lim would also bring David along with him to work, and he got to run around the grounds and interact with Police officers. Growing up in close proximity to his late grandfather’s friends and colleagues, it was no wonder that David was drawn to becoming an officer himself. “The decision was pretty simple,” he recalled. 

A commando during his National Service days, David joined SPF in 1992 and graduated from the Police Academy as an Inspector. He was assigned to Tanglin Police Division as an Investigation Officer and was then posted to the Gurkha Contingent where he served as the unit’s first local Training Officer. 

Notably, David became the Head of Station with the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in East Timor in 2000, and was also tasked to set up the Air Marshal Unit in 2008 before taking on other senior appointments in the Force. 

The Family Legacy
Although David retired in 2019, some Policing habits will stick with him for life. For one thing, being an officer has trained him to be cautious and alert. “Officers tend to see situations differently,” he explained. “They’re acutely aware of their surroundings.”

According to David, being a Police officer today is much different from the past, in part because of the proliferation of social media. “When people see Police officers come to the rescue, they have their phones out,” he said. “Small things can become big things, and people are more rash nowadays.”

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Faithful and devoted: David’s grandfather and father are among the officers honoured at the SPF Commemorative Gallery at New Phoenix Park. PHOTOS: Joash Tan

Having followed in the footsteps of his late grandfather and father, David shared that he never felt he had big shoes to fill. He didn’t tell his fellow officers about his family history; in his opinion, there was no need to. “I didn’t even tell my grandfather that I was joining the Force until I got in,” he recalled. 

As for his grandfather's response, it was simply to tell David to stay safe and be careful. “But I don’t think I really took his advice,” said David with a chuckle. “I wasn’t always careful during my time.”

But David’s lighthearted response belies the challenges and risks that Police officers face every day to ensure the safety of others, with some making the ultimate sacrifice. This sense of duty is another trait that David has retained from his Policing days. “No two days are ever the same, and I’ve enjoyed my time as an officer,” he said. “I wouldn't have done anything else.”

Commemorating 200 Years of the Singapore Police Force: The Singapore Police Bicentennial 2020 Medal
The Singapore Police Bicentennial 2020 Medal will be awarded to Singapore Police Force (SPF) officers following a Parliamentary Motion by Mr Christopher De Souza on 3 August 2021 to commemorate 200 years of the SPF. 

The Singapore Police Bicentennial 2020 Medal honours the important contributions of the SPF to Singapore over the last 200 years and accords recognition to SPF officers for their service to the nation.  

The Medal will be awarded to SPF officers who were in service for any period between 1 January 2020 and 31 December 2020. This includes regular Police officers, Full-time National Servicemen, Operationally Ready National Servicemen and Volunteer Special Constabulary officers. 

A Medallion will also be awarded to former Police officers who had retired or completed their National Service liabilities before 1 January 2020. This Medallion will also be given to civilian officers who were in service with the SPF in 2020, as well as the families of officers who had died in the line of duty.

Read the Response Speech by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law, at the Parliamentary Debate on the Motion "Commemorating 200 Years of the Singapore Police Force."

Written by

Chloe Low


4 August 2021

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