PETALING JAYA, Dec 15 (Sin Chew Daily) — A Malaysian migrant has been named the police officer of the year in Western Australia.
Sam Lim, 60, is the first non-White and the first Malaysian to win the individual category award due to his outstanding performance.
Lim, from Muar, served the police force in Western Australia for 14 years and has assisted many migrants there.
In a telephone interview with Sin Chew Daily, Lim said he was once a member of the Malaysian police force in the 1980s. However, due to the poor career prospect, he quit to become a dolphin trainer and later a businessman.
Lim's wife and children migrated to Perth in 2002, and he joined them three years later in October 2005.
"I had planned to retire, but when I came to know the police here, they approached me and invited me to join the police force.
"Even at the age of 44, they told me I could still join the police force here so long as I passed the tests, as Australia did not discriminate against a person due to his age, color or gender for job opportunities," he explained.
A permanent resident of Australia, Lim put aside his retirement plan and went through a series of physical tests and psychological assessments to become a cop again.
He went through five types of tests, background check, including criminal records, financial status and family background.
"One must pass these tests and undergo 28 weeks of training. You take different assessment each day.
"It is not easy to join the force and hence very few Chinese are keen. I am the first Malaysian Chinese to join the force," he said.
Lim was once stationed at Eucla about 1,500km from Perth, and Karratha.
As a police officer, Lim said he received a lot of attention from the local residents as there were very few Asian officers there.
"I have been in the force for many years. I know many migrants are afraid of the police. They do not trust the police and the system, and they have negative perception about the police.
He also discovered that many migrants are unfamiliar with the local culture and system. Through social media, Lim has offered his explanation and shared his knowledge on the laws of Australia.
Such contribution led him to be nominated for the excellence award.
Like many Chinese Malaysians, Lim speaks a number of languages and Chinese dialects.
He speaks Chinese, English, Malay, Indonesian and is also fluent in Chinese dialects such as Teochew, Hakka, Hokkien, Cantonese and Leizhou.
Because of this, Lim is able to communicate with migrants from China, India and Southeast Asia in different languages. His linguistic advantage has helped the migrants integrate better with the local communities.
Once the migrants understand the local laws, they will not be violating the regulations.
Lim has conducted workshops explaining the laws of Australia in different languages and has translated them into different languages.
"The workshops receive good response, attracting many to volunteer as translators. We have translation team from Vietnam, Africa, Myanmar, Cambodia and other countries."
Various groups were set up in major social media platforms to post the legal information in various languages as frequently asked questions (FAQ).
Lim said a total of 1.2 million local Chinese had joined such groups in the social media.
Members of the public have sought help through these channels, and Lim said he had learned a lot about the social issues through such channels too.
One of the issues which has caught his attention is that many Malaysians have entered Australia to work illegally. Many are paid very low wages by the unscrupulous agents but are afraid to lodge police reports against the agents.
"The police, immigration, home ministry and the high commission should work together to help these Malaysians," he said.