by Claire Yip (13A01A)
After taking over as the first female Principal of RI, Mrs Lim Lai Cheng has become the first head of the school to receive a knighthood since Sir Stamford Raffles.
Ironically, despite RI’s historical ties to colonial Britain, the honour was awarded by the United Kingdom’s imperial arch rival—France. Specifically, Mrs Lim was conferred the Ordre des Palmes Académiques (Order of the Academic Palms), and is now a chevalier, or Knight.
The new chevalier was recognised for her ‘major contributions to French national education and culture’, namely, initiating exchange programmes with institutions such as Sciences Po (an elite university in France), and studying French Language and Literature at the GCE “O” and “A” Levels.
Unfortunately, students will not get to address her as Dame anytime soon. Chan Kai Yan (13A01A), an expert who runs a Facebook fan page for Queen Elizabeth II and engages in regular correspondence with the British royal family, explained: “The Order does not confer a titular dignity upon her. She will continue to be addressed as Mrs Lim.”
When told of Mrs. Lim’s achievement, Tan Jit Hui (13A01A), who will be going on a trip to Sciences Po in June, expressed surprise and fascination. Nonetheless, she felt that the honour is unlikely to radically alter students’ perception of Mrs Lim. Indeed, it does not encompass Mrs Lim’s achievements in fields other than Franco-Singaporean cooperation in education.
While Mrs Lim’s award is a source of much interest, her legacy will not be shaped by it alone. Instead, it is more likely to be crafted around the things which she is best known for – some serious, some trivial. Here are some further Orders of Merit we feel ought to be conferred upon Mrs Lim:
- Re-Unifier of the Raffles Schools;
- Sovereign of Excellent A-Level Results in her Reign;
- Commander of the Raffles Diploma;
- Defender of the Prometheum F.I.R.E;
- Receiver of the Gold Trophy; and
- Wearer of the Red Dress