Dr. Victor Chang, a highly esteemed cardiac surgeon in Australia, fell victim to a senseless act of violence on July 4, 1991. As he commuted to work, Choon Tee Lim and his accomplice intentionally collided with Dr. Chang’s car before confronting him. As we reflect on the murder of Dr. Victor Chang, it’s worth noting that his contributions and legacy are being commemorated on his birthday today with a Google Doodle. This serves as a poignant reminder not only of the senseless violence that claimed his life but also of the enduring impact he made in the medical field. Let us also look at the legal proceedings, arrests, and eventual conviction of Lim, which left a lasting impact on the collective memory of Australia.
Who is Choon Tee (Phillip) Lim?
Choon Tee Lim, a Malaysian national who arrived in Australia in the early 1990s in pursuit of a better life, had experienced the hardships of poverty firsthand. Despite witnessing limited prosperity, his desperation for quick financial gains and greed led him to collaborate with his friend Chew Seng Liew AKA “Ah Sung,” and another accomplice named Ng, in hatching a plan to extort money from Dr. Victor Chang. Lim’s limited knowledge about Dr. Chang didn’t deter him; instead, the doctor’s wealth and success, earned through hard work and dedication, made him a perceived target for their ill-conceived scheme.
It is alleged that Lim and his accomplices had devised a plan to kidnap Dr. Victor Chang and hold him, as well as his family, hostage. However, a day before the intended execution of the plan, Ng became apprehensive and decided to withdraw from the scheme. Despite Ng’s change of heart, Lim and Chew Seng Liew proceeded with their mission. On the morning of July 4, 1991, Lim and his partner pursued Dr. Chang as he made his way to St. Vincent Hospital. They intentionally collided with his vehicle, forcing him to come to a stop. Lim started with a verbal disagreement but soon addressed Dr. Chang by his name, which is when the latter realized that it was a bigger scheme than he had imagined.
Lim claims that his wallet slipped out of his pocket, leading him to bend down to retrieve it. In a shocking turn of events, his companion unexpectedly brandished a firearm and fired two shots at Dr. Chang. The initial shot caused minimal harm, but the second bullet struck Dr. Chang directly in the forehead, resulting in instantaneous death. Caught off guard and uncertain of their course of action, Lim and his accomplice hastily fled the scene, leaving behind the crime scene.
Where is Choon Tee (Phillip) Lim Now?
A year following the commission of the crime, law enforcement successfully tracked down Lim and apprehended him. The subsequent trial, which commenced in 1992, saw Lim pleading not guilty, asserting that he was unaware of his friend’s possession of a firearm and vehemently denying any intent to cause harm to the doctor. Despite his protestations of innocence, Lim received a sentence requiring him to serve a minimum to a maximum term of 18 to 24 years. Thus, his prolonged incarceration in a foreign country began.
In 2010, at the age of 50, Lim faced the prospect of parole as he had completed his minimum sentence. However, news of his potential release stirred a national uproar, fueled by the lingering impact of Dr. Chang’s tragic death on public sentiment. The outcry reached the ears of New South Wales Corrective Services Minister, John Robertson, who strongly opposed Lim’s parole. Consequently, Lim’s plea for parole was rejected, and the NSW Parole Authority mandated that he must endure an additional 12 months of incarceration.
In March 2010, Lim’s defense counsel highlighted a procedural error committed by the Parole Authority, leading the NSW Supreme Court to declare that he had been “unlawfully detained.” Despite the initial inclination to give the parole authority another opportunity, Lim’s counsel assured the judge that the prosecutors were disinclined to prolong the matter further. Consequently, it was agreed that Lim would be transferred to immigration custody. On March 2, 2009, Lim was released from prison and taken into the custody of the Department of Immigration.
Lim’s flight to Kuala Lumpur on March 2 was abruptly canceled, prolonging his return to Malaysia by another day as he awaited deportation. Despite the media attention surrounding his case during the legal proceedings, little is known about Lim’s life and activities following his return to Malaysia. The subsequent release of his accomplice in 2012 shifted the media spotlight away from Lim, further contributing to the lack of comprehensive information about his life after the conclusion of the legal proceedings.