Radio presenter Bernard Lim talks about how his priorities have shifted now that he’s raising a toddler daughter.

Many would describe 2019 as an eventful year for veteran radio presenter Bernard Lim. Not only did the media maven tie the knot with Thai public relations and marketing executive Pim Suvarnakuta, 38, he also adopted her 2-year-old niece, Minnie.

Bernard, 52, who was married in 1998 and divorced after seven years, doesn’t have any children from his previous marriage.

The MONEY FM 89.3 presenter now helms Prime Time with Howie Lim, an evening drive-time show, from 4pm to 7pm.

SmartParents catches up with the late-in-life dad to find out just how he is enjoying fatherhood.

Hi Bernard, congrats on your marriage ― how has life been treating you?

I never thought I would become a parent! I’ve known Pim for more than 10 years. We met while I was playing golf in Pattaya, Thailand, on a business trip, and she was working for a well-known golf course in marketing.

We reconnected again in 2016 and decided to register our marriage in July 2019 in Singapore as we needed to formally adopt Minnie, who is the daughter of Pim’s younger sister. She is now 2 years old.

Minnie is a joy to love and treating her like our own was never a problem for us.”

So, what is it like to be an “older dad”?

[Laughs] I enjoy the paternal responsibility now, but the disadvantage is that when Minnie is in her 20s, I will be too old to go jogging with her!

What’s the story behind the adoption?

It’s a long touching story. A few years before, Pim shared with me that her younger sister was diagnosed with brain cancer. Pim and her sister are the only children in the family, apart from her parents and a close aunt.

A few months later, they discovered that her sister was pregnant and was determined to keep the baby. The last days of the treatment was painful. She was in severe pain but doctors were not able to prescribe strong medicine.

Minnie was born prematurely. We were all there throughout the process while her sister passed away. We knew that Minnie needs parental love, so we decided to formally adopt and care for her.

What were your thoughts leading to the adoption?

Personally, let me do one good deed in spite of all the bad things I’ve done in my earlier life. Minnie is a joy to love and treating her like our own was never a problem for us. We also thank her real father, who is glad that we can care and provide for her.

We understand that Minnie is staying in Thailand ― how does this work?

Yup, Minnie is looked after by my in-laws in Yasothon, the northern part of Thailand, nearer to Chiang Mai. Even though she is not staying with us physically in Singapore, Pim and myself send money over every month and we LINE video call her at least twice every day.

How often do you visit/see her?

[Before the COVID-19 pandemic] We used to fly up every month.

How do you communicate with Minnie?

She’s learning Thai from her [maternal] grandparents. She’s also learning to talk now, so it’s fun as her mix of Thai, English and baby language is funny!

I have quietly remembered these moments and learnt that the small things in parenthood can leave the strongest impression on the young.”

Where will Minnie study?

We will send her to international play school soon, so that she can learn to interact and speak some English… We want to bring her to school here when she is older.

What’s a typical day like for you?

I get to work by 2pm to prepare before going on air. It’s an intense 3 hour-long show with interviews, news, traffic, sports, etc. Pim finishes work by 6.30pm. I will be home for dinner by 8pm ― we usually spend time together with Netflix.

 

Tell us more about your marriage to Pim how do Singapore and Thai cultures come together at home?

Pim is really the partner I need. She genuinely cares for me and is a very simple woman who is sincere and real. She gets along very well with my parents and enjoys the Singapore culture but not the cost of living. She cooks Thai food for the family on weekends. She speaks and writes in English, so communication was never an issue.

How do you and Pim spend time as a couple?

We enjoy Netflix and play Word Domination [a real-time word game on apps]. Pim is also a very keen photographer and we head out to take photos of Singapore scenery on weekends. I play photography assistant or model [laughs].

You suffered a stroke in 2014 how did that change you/your outlook in life?

I suffered from Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM) in 2014. A blood vessel in my brain just burst suddenly my brain was soaked in blood causing me to slip into a coma. This was classified as a stroke of the brain. The recovery was a painful and slow three months.

The experience changed my perception of life and career. I was a Managing Director in Mediacorp at that time. I suddenly realised life can be so fragile. When was the last time we showed appreciation to the ones who love us the most? Life can be a lot simpler and more meaningful.

It’s your first Father’s Day this year what are your wishes today?

I wish that fathers can value and cherish the times they can spend with their children. Once the time or moment is gone, it will never be the same again. We must also learn to cherish the moment. Personally, I feel that I must be an example for Minnie when she is older ― an inspirational model for her life.

Any lessons learnt from your own relationship with your father?

Personally, I have a close relationship with my dad I respect, care and love him a lot. My fondest memories are when I was very young and he would send me to catechism on Sunday every week without fail. This was even when he’d returned late the night before.

I have quietly remembered these moments and learnt that the small things in parenthood can leave the strongest impression on the young.

Do you want more kids?

We’ve no plans for more kids ― both Pim and I are older now [grins].

Please complete these sentences:

The one thing people don’t know about me is… I’m actually an introvert.

If I weren’t a radio presenter, I’d be… A banker.

Favourite thing to do as a family… Netflix and munch rubbish together.

Favourite hawker food… Mee pok tar!

The last book I read was… The Everything Essential Buddhism Book by Arnie Kozak. I’m a born Catholic and Pim is a Buddhist I have always been fascinated by the Buddhist principles of non-violence, mindfulness and self-awareness.

The last time Minnie made me laugh… Every time we are on video call with her, she makes us laugh!

What I want most for my child is… A good sound education, not the stressful grades-chasing type.

Photos: Bernard Lim

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