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TV celebrity Moses Lim
tells YONG SHU HOONG he will never forget his first
stage appearance as a compere
EVEN today, whenever I step on a stage to host a
show, I still think about the most memorable day of
I was then 18 and weighed about 50 kg.
Though still in a pre-university class at Anglican
High, I managed to enter the finals of an amateur
compere competition held at the Singapore Conference
Hall in 1969.
I had earlier auditioned for the competition and
was the only student to get through to the finals.
The picture on the above shows me with some stage
The hall was packed with about 1,000 people. As I
didn't have a steady girlfriend then, it was just my
family and friends giving me support from the
A live orchestra conducted by Ahmad Jaffar (a
well-known musician then) played instrumental pieces
popular in the '60s, like music by The Shadows. They
also provided music accompaniment for the singers
Backstage, the male entertainers were clad in
smart-looking suits or bell-bottoms, while female
singers wore colourful outfits or sequined gowns. I
had a dark jacket over a white shirt and tie.
I was excited. A little nervous too. Some of the
other finalists had prior drama or radio-broadcasting
I had only practised before the mirror.
At that time, it wasn't prestigious at all to be
an entertainer. So I didn't get much support from my
Luckily, the other members of my family were more
The competition was organised by Radio and
Television Singapore (which preceded Singapore
Broadcasting Corporation and Television Corporation
of Singapore). It was divided into the English and
There were five finalists for each section. I was
one of the finalists in the Chinese section.
For each of five consecutive nights, a different
pair of English and Chinese comperes had to host a
show at the conference hall.
I was teamed up with a lady compere in her late
20s "elderly" compared to me!
We had rehearsed earlier in the afternoon (I was
at the conference hall by 3 pm).
The hour-long show began at 8 pm.
Although I had never faced such a large audience
before, I was actually quite calm. No stage fright.
I tried to show off my bilingual skills by
translating some of what my English co-host said into
While introducing the Taiwanese singer Bai Sa, who
had a popular hit in Singapore called Tonight I'm Not
Coming Home, I did a light-hearted interview with
I managed to gain some laughter from the audience
by asking Bai whether she found Singapore men
attractive. I thought I could score more points by
persuading comedian Wang Sa to do a skit with me.
When he backed out of the skit later, I was a
little disappointed. But I took it all in my stride.
The show had to go on, and it went on without a
Back home that night, I couldn't sleep as my
adrenaline was still pumping.
I was happy with how I performed. Even before the
results were announced, I already knew then that I
could make it in the entertainment world.
MY role model, local comedian Wang Sa, was at
the first show I compered.
Wang Sa and Yeh
Fong were the Laurel and Hardy of Singapore.
They delighted people in the '60s and '70s
with a mix of dialect and Mandarin jokes.
Other big names included Zhang Wei (who
hosted Sharp Night) and Larry Lai, and singers like
Wang Li, Ling Zhu Jun and The Quests.
Backstage, an idea struck me. What if I teamed up
with Wang Sa to do a short skit?
To my surprise, Wang readily agreed. I was
But just before he went on stage, he changed his
DO YOU REMEMBER?
Anita Sarawak was the queen of the stage from
She started performing at 17 and
made a name for herself with her powerful
vocals, smooth dance moves and off-the-cuff
jibes at the audience.
Since 1986, Sarawak has been living in Las
Vegas, where she sings in Caesar's Palace a five-star
hotel and casino.
Although Sarawak is a US permanent resident, she
still comes back occasionally. She performed at the
closing ceremony of the 1996 World Trade Organisation
In her mid-40s now, she doesn't seem to show signs
of slowing down.
Zhou, Raffles Junior College (right): If you had
not become a successful entertainer, what sort of
occupation do you think you would be in right now?
Moses Lim: Most likely, I would be a
businessman. You see, I studied commerce at Ngee Ann
Technical College (now known as Ngee Ann
My father had high hopes for me he wanted me to be
a doctor. That was why my Chinese name literally
means "helping people.
I didn't become a doctor but, as an actor, I did
play the part of a doctor on a few occasions.
Kung Chien Wen, Raffles Junior College
(left): What advice would you give to an aspiring
Moses Lim: My advice would be: Think very
With only one main television station, the market
for entertainers in Singapore is not very big.
Of course, interest plays a very important part,
as that's the only thing that will motivate you and
keep you going - as in my case.
-- The New Paper,
Oct 21, 1998
Lim, 48, is a freelance entertainer who acts
in the TCS sitcom Under One Roof.
He is also the chairman of a
real estate company and a bridal shop.
In the pipeline are
starring roles in two local movies.
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