Ex-top cop Richard Lim, who died last week, solved many high-profile crimes

 Ex-top cop Richard Lim, who died last week, solved many high-profile crimes
Former Assistant Superintendent Richard Lim Beng Gee died of heart attack last Saturday.
PHOTO: Streats

It could have been be a sales receipt lodged under a concrete slab. Or a tooth fragment in the back of a van.

These were the nondescript pieces of evidence that helped former Assistant Superintendent Richard Lim Beng Gee crack some of Singapore's high-profile crime cases.

In his 31 years with the police force, he became a celebrated inspector known for solving cases.

Mr Lim, who retired in 2003, died of a heart attack on Saturday. He was 65.

Local Chinese newspapers even labelled him "Singapore's Sherlock Holmes" for his crime-solving skills. Yet the father of two never brandished his successes at home.

Mr Lim's daughter Jane, 35, told The New Paper yesterday at his wake: "I'm learning things about my father as the wake progresses. It's a persona he didn't bring home.

"We didn't see the magnitude of what my father did, we just knew he was a police officer. When we were growing up, he was just a father."

Ms Lim, a civil servant, said: "My father had an all-consuming sense of mission and a very strong desire to see justice done.

"In a way, the wake is like a celebration of all the things he has done.

"My mother wanted a simple wake for him, but we were surprised by the number of people who turned up."


Ms Lim said that much of her memories of her father revolve around him staring at photographs, often with gory details, scattered on the floor.

"He never really removed his police cap at home. My brother and I are immune to (blood and gore) now," she said.

With no computers, every detail of the case was recorded in an investigation diary, and relationships between people involved in the case were drawn out in charts.

In his years with the force, he accumulated over 20 such notebooks. But it never felt like her father missed out on a huge chunk of her growing up years.

She said: "He was a policeman before he became a father. That's the kind of father we knew."

Ms Lim also recalled her father to be an animated storyteller with a boisterous laugh during Chinese New Year family gatherings.

The long drives to Penang - where he was born - are fond memories for Ms Lim, partly because it was one of the rare few times that Mr Lim did not have to think about work.

"There were no budget airlines then, so we had to drive there overnight," Ms Lim said.

Mr Lim retired at age 52 and devoted his time to his three grandsons aged four, seven and nine.

"I think it was to make up for lost time. They were the love of his life," said Ms Lim.

"He spent a lot of time with the grandchildren and was very concerned with everything about them - their health, the food they ate, the clothes they wore, and whether they were home safe."

She said her nine-year-old son was hardest hit by the news of Mr Lim's passing.

"If (my father) had been alive for a few more years, my son would have been able to hear his stories."

High-profile cases


Two Japanese tourists, aged 49 and 55, were assaulted in their room in June 1994, right after they checked into a Marina Square hotel.

Their luggage had not even been sent up to their room when they were attacked. The 49-year-old died of her injuries.

The only shred of evidence Assistant Superintendent Richard Lim Beng Gee found was a suspect's two fingerprints.

This helped convict the man, after he was arrested for trying to rob a cabby 19 months later.


ASP Lim and his team literally left no stone unturned when Bulgarian woman Iordanka Apostolova was found dead in Tanah Merah Canal in January 1998.

The crucial lead - a sales receipt from a petrol station with two Esso lucky draw tickets attached - was found under a concrete slab near the canal. They checked CCTV footage at that petrol kiosk and solved the mystery within 36 hours.

They were awarded the Minister of Home Affairs Instant Award for Operational Efficiency.


In September 1999, a 14-year-old girl was kidnapped while walking back to her home at Binjai Park.

She was pulled into a van, blindfolded and tied up with adhesive tape.

The teen was held hostage at a house 3km away for nearly 60 hours, until ASP Lim and his team tracked down the kidnappers' identities through a credit card. It had been used to buy a prepaid phone card so the girl could talk to her father.

This article was first published on January 19, 2016.
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