Tag: history

Historyogi Post Issue 78

The 78th issue of The Historyogi Post is out!

  • The government finally agrees to livestream Parliament after years of resistance
  • Singapore Grip TV drama sparks controversy over depictions of race & colonialism
  • Kent Ridge’s bloody past & royal connections

Read More: https://tinyletter.com/historyogipost/letters/historyogi-post-78-parliament-to-finally-livestream-gripped-by-the-singapore-grip-and-kent-ridge-s-royal-cred

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Historyogi Post Issue 77

The 77th issue of The Historyogi Post is out now!

  • The long history of Singapore’s sheltered walkways, from shophouses to modern linkways
  • The planned road to Singapore’s separation from Malaysia
  • Busybodies at Kay Poh Road?

Read More: https://tinyletter.com/historyogipost/letters/historyogi-post-77-covered-walkways-lee-kuan-yew-s-tears-and-a-busybody-road

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Historyogi Post Issue 76

The 76th issue of The Historyogi Post is out now!

  • My personal curation of the Top 10 #GE2020 analyses
  • The woman who fought to create the first rape kit in the 1970s.
  • Watching movies under the stars in Jurong.

Read More: https://tinyletter.com/historyogipost/letters/historyogi-post-76-top-10-post-election-analyses-the-rape-kit-s-fascinating-history-and-asia-s-largest-drive-in-cinema

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#GE2020: Cooling-Off Day Compendium of Singapore Election History

With the election campaign about to end and Cooling Off Day about to begin, I’ve compiled a handy collection of my election history primer as well as my four election specials for your reading pleasure.

This election has been dominated by familiar slogans and political attacks. We’ve been amused by Heng Swee Keat’s East Coast Plan, charmed by Jamus Lim’s charisma and touched by Abdul Shariff’s willpower. Social media has made the election more accessible but also restricted within echo chambers.

Old worries such as retirement adequacy, living costs and employment have meshed with ongoing concerns about the fallout from the pandemic and Singapore’s place in the changing world order. A newer generation tries to push back against established orthodoxies, alarming more conservative elders.

As a millennial voter, I wish for a strong, capable government that consults closely with a well-informed, empowered and rugged citizenry to tackle the complex challenges we face. Welcoming a diverse range of views and ideas is crucial at a time when no one entity can claim a monopoly on talent and competence in every speciality.

Former President Ong Teng Cheong said, “My loyalty is first and foremost, to the people of Singapore. It has always been so, and will always remain so.” I hope that every voter and candidate remembers that we must all be in this for the betterment of Singapore and Singaporeans as we head to the polls on Friday. Majulah Singapura.

Introducing the Singapore Election History Primer for #GE2020 ! See a full overview of all 14 of Singapore’s General Elections from 1959 to 2015, learn about four colourful past opposition figures (including one who infamously said “Don’t talk cock” in parliament) & enjoy a selection of quotable quotes from politicians past & present.


Ever wondered what foreign diplomats report about Singapore’s election? I dug into US diplomatic cables released in 2010 by Wikileaks to see what the Americans thought about our 2006 election. Learn about their views on the state of our opposition, the role of Malay Muslim MPs and the conduct of the election campaign. Then read their assessment of PM Lee’s performance and the impact of MM Lee on voters.


As the election campaign continues past the halfway mark, there has been some buzz over the Singapore Democratic Alliance’s posters, which feature vintage style illustrations rather than photos of candidates. That prompted me to look into the history of Singapore’s election posters and leaflets and see how the designs have evolved through the decades. Check out some fascinating examples in my latest piece!


Did you know that JB Jeyaretnam was not the first WP candidate to win a by-election at Anson? Or that Marine Parade is the only GRC to ever face a by-election? Learn all about the curious history of Singapore’s by-elections in my latest piece!


On the final day of election campaigning, most voters are likely exhausted from the torrent of news. So here are 20 interesting pics I dug up from the National Archives from bygone elections. Check them out!


#GE2020 Special: 20 Iconic Election Pics from Singapore’s Archives

On the final day of election campaigning, most voters are likely exhausted from the torrent of news. So here are 20 interesting pics I dug up from the National Archives from bygone elections.

Elderly man arriving to cast his vote in the 1955 election. Credit: NAS

Voters queuing up on Polling Day in 1959. Credit: NAS

Election officials sealing a ballot box in the presence of three witnesses in 1963. Credit: NAS

Officials seated around a table counting ballots for the Bras Basah constituency at a counting centre during the 1963 election. Credit: NAS

Lee Kuan Yew being congratulated by supporters at Victoria Theatre after winning the 1963 election. Credit: NAS

Lee Kuan Yew, Goh Keng Swee and other PAP members thanking voters after the 1963 election. Credit: NAS

Barisan Sosialis supporters with a policeman during the Hong Lim by-election in 1965. Credit: NAS

Lee Koon Choy speaking at a by-election rally at Bukit Merah in 1966. Credit: NAS

David Marshall waiting outside the polling station at Tanjong Pagar in 1968. Credit: NAS

PAP rally at Fullerton Square in 1972. Credit: NAS

PAP candidate Fong Sip Chee, who won in Kampong Chai Chee in 1976, stopped to thank voters at the market. Credit: NAS

JB Jeyaretnam at the counting centre during the 1979 by-election in Telok Blangah. Credit: NAS

Ballot boxes arriving at the counting centre during the 1979 by-elections. Credit: NAS

S Dhanabalan at the Victoria School nomination centre in 1980. Credit: NAS

Media monitoring at Victoria JC during the 1984 election. Credit: NAS

PAP candidate Teo Chong Tee greeting Pulau Ubin residents in 1984. Credit: NAS

Chiam See Tong on a victory parade after retaining Potong Pasir in 1988. Credit: NAS

K Shanmugam at the Yishun Secondary School nomination centre in 1988 during his first election. Credit: NAS

Parents with their children at a polling station in 1988. Credit: NAS

Low Thia Khiang giving a speech after winning Hougang for the first time in 1991. Credit: NAS

#GE2020 Special: A History of By-Elections in Singapore, 1957-1992

As the campaign for this general election enters its final days, it’s important to remember that General Elections are not the only elections that take place in Singapore. We also have had by-elections to fill seats left vacant during the Parliamentary term.

Readers would be familiar with the three most recent by-elections: Hougang (2012), Punggol East (2013) and Bukit Batok (2016). Therefore, this piece will look at the series of by-elections that took place from 1957-1992.

1957 By-Election

Lee Kuan Yew’s 1957 by-election leaflet. Credit: Roots.sg

In June 1956, David Marshall resigned as Chief Minister after failing to secure British commitment to full self-government. His successor, Lim Yew Hock, led another delegation a few months later that included opposition leader Lee Kuan Yew. Marshall then criticised Lee for selling out to the British and challenged him to a contest in the latter’s constituency of Tanjong Pagar.

Lee accepted this and resigned his seat in April 1957. However, Marshall later backed out and announced his (short lived) political retirement instead. Lee went on to retake his seat while Marshall’s old seat of Cairnhill went to the Liberal Socialist Party

April 1961 By-Election

Ong Eng Guan. Credit: NAS

In August 1960, PAP Minister for National Development Ong Eng Guan was sacked from his post and expelled from the party for constantly clashing with the leadership. In Dec 1960, Ong resigned his seat of Hong Lim and challenged the PAP to defeat him as an independent candidate. He successfully retained his seat with 73.3% of votes against the PAP’s Jek Yeun Thong (who later became one of the Old Guard).

July 1961 By-Election

David Marshall’s 1961 campaign card. Credit: Roots.sg

In April 1961, Baharuddin bin Mohd Ariff, the PAP Member for Anson, died from a sudden illness at the age of 28. David Marshall, now chief of the Workers’ Party, contested and won a multi-cornered fight with 43.3% of votes, making this the WP’s first ever election victory. He was sworn in on 20 July, the same day that Lee Kuan Yew tabled a motion of confidence on the PAP government. The 13 PAP Assemblymen who voted against the motion were then expelled from the party, triggering the PAP Split.

1965 By-Election

Lee Koon Choy taking his oath as a Minister of State in newly independent Singapore. Credit: NAS

Ong Eng Guan, who had retained his seat in the April 1961 by-election and the 1963 general election, resigned his seat in June 1965, claiming that the legislature was meeting too infrequently. He contemplated running for his seat again, but chose to retire from politics instead. The PAP’s Lee Koon Choy won the election against the Barisan Sosialis candidate with 59.5% of votes. Interestingly, by the time Lee was sworn in in December 1965, Singapore had already separated from Malaysia and the Legislative Assembly had become the new Parliament.

1966 By-Elections

March 1966 By-Eelction Result. Credit: Newspaper SG

After Singapore’s separation from Malaysia, the Barisan claimed that Singapore’s independence was “phoney” and announced a boycott of Parliament. In December 1965, Barisan member Lim Huan Boon resigned after disagreeing with the party’s stance. His seat of Bukit Merah was won by the PAP’s Lim Guan Hoo with 82.9% of votes against independent candidate MPD Nair.

March 1966 By-Election Results. Credit: Newspaper SG

Three more Barisan MPs, Chio Cheng Thun, Kow Kee Seng and ST Bani, resigned in January 1966. Their seats of Choa Chu Kang, Paya Lebar and Crawford were won uncontested by PAP candidates, the first time the legislature had walkover victories since 1952.

Nov 1966 By-Election results. Credit: Newspaper SG

An unprecented third round of by-elections were triggered when the remaining two Barisan MPs Chia Thye Poh and Lee Tee Tong resigned their seats of Jurong and Bukit Timah. PAP MP Fong Kim Heng also decided to resign due to poor health. With the Barisan’s parliamentary boycott still in place, all three seats were won uncontested by the PAP.

1967 By-Elections

An all-PAP legislature for the first time. Credit: Newspaper SG

The final remaining Barisan MPs, Koo Young, Loh Miaw Gong, Ong Lian Teng, Poh Ber Liak and Tan Cheng Tong resigned their seats in December 1966. This also ended the Barisan’s presence in Parliament and began an era of a PAP monopoly which lasted till 1981. With the Barisan boycott still in place, PAP candidates won unopposed in four seats: Jalan Kayu, Tampines, Bukit Panjang and Havelock. The PAP’s Ang Nam Piau won the Thomson seat overwhelmingly against two independents.

1970 By-Election

Chan Choy Siong. Credit: SWHF

In April 1970, five PAP MPs resigned “so that the party can bring new talent and experience into parliament”. Among them included Chan Choy Siong, the only female MP in Parliament and champion of the Women’s Charter. The Havelock, Whampoa and Delta seats were won unopposed while PAP candidates won Ulu Pandan and Kampong Kapor against the United National Front. Hon Sui Sen, the new MP for Havelock, soon succeeded Goh Keng Swee as Finance Minister and remained so until his death in 1983.

May 1977 By-Election

Credit: Newspaper SG

In February 1977, N Govindasamy, the PAP MP for Radin Mas, died from a heart attack. In the subsequent by-election, the PAP’s Bernard Chen won 70.6% of votes against the WP’s JB Jeyaretnam, who was making his third attempt to win a seat. The WP contested the seat after negotiations among opposition parties to avoid three-cornered fights.

July 1977 By-Election

Lim Guan Hoo in 1974. Credit: NAS

Lim Guan Hoo, who had himself won the Bukit Merah seat in the 1966 by-elections, slipped into a coma after a stroke in February 1977. In July, his seat was declared vacant and a by-election was called. After opposition negotiations, the Barisan’s Lee Siew Choh contested against the PAP’s Lim Chee Onn. Lim won with 72.2% of votes.

February 1979 By-Elections

Six resignations and one death. Credit: Newspaper SG

In January 1979, six PAP MPs, Ong Soo Chuan (Nee Soon), Teong Eng Siong (Sembawang), Ahmad Haleem (Telok Blangah), Yong Nyuk Lin (Geylang West), Ivan Baptist (Potong Pasir) and Ng Yeow Chong (Mountbatten) resigned their seats. The reason cited was a renewal of party ranks. A seventh seat, Anson, was also left vacant by the death of PAP MP P. Govindaswamy.

The resulting 7 by-elections remain a record in Singapore’s electoral history. Devan Nair, who had led the NTUC since his return from Malaysia, won the Anson seat. Tony Tan, who would later become Deputy Prime Minister and President, won in Sembawang. Teh Cheang Wan, who would become Minister for National Development and later committed suicide in 1986, was elected in Geylang West. Chiam See Tong ran in Potong Pasir for the very first time but lost with 33.2% of votes.

1981 By-Election

JB Jeyaretnam’s shock victory. Credit: Newspaper SG

In October 1981, Devan Nair was appointed President, vacating the Anson seat. JB Jeyaretnam contested against Pang Kim Hin, who was the nephew of PSA Chairman Lim Kim San. With PSA employees living in Anson facing housing relocation issues, Jeyaretnam won the seat in a shocking upset with 51.9% of the vote, becoming the first opposition candidate to win a seat in independent Singapore’s Parliament. He retained the seat in the 1984 general election but was disqualified in 1986 after legal troubles.

1992 By-Election

The PAP Marine Parade Team. Credit: NAS

In the first and only by-election ever held for a GRC, all four Marine Parade MPs, including Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, resigned. Goh wanted a stronger mandate after the poorer results of the 1991 general election, and he wanted to give Jeyaretnam (who was not eligible for the 1991 election due to a ban) a chance to contest.

Teo Chee Hean, who would later become DPM and Senior Minister made his political debut. Chee Soon Juan, a star candidate from the SDP, also debuted in this by-election. The WP team was disqualified due to improper paperwork and the PAP won 72.9% of votes against the SDP, NSP and SJP. This would be the last by-election for 20 years until the 2012 Hougang polls.

#GE2020 Special: A History of Singapore Election Campaign Posters

As the election campaign continues past the halfway mark, there has been some buzz over the Singapore Democratic Alliance’s posters, which feature vintage style illustrations rather than the photos of candidates.

SDA’s 2020 election posters. Credit: Eisen Teo

That prompted me to look into the history of Singapore’s election posters and leaflets and see how the designs have evolved through the decades.


In 1955, Singapore held elections under the Rendel Constitution. The incumbent Singapore Progressive Party, the new People’s Action party and the Labour Front were among the parties that contested. The Labour Front won the majority of votes and formed a coalition with the Singapore Alliance Party and David Marshall became Singapore’s first Chief Minister.

The Labour Front manifesto from 1954. Credit: Roots.sg
The master plate used to print Lee Kuan Yew’s election leaflets which emphasised his support for independence and workers’ rights. Credit: National Museum

Almost all posters and leaflets were printed in black and white to save costs.

Lim Yew Hock’s 1955 election leaflet. Credit: Roots.sg
The Tamil posters of Lee Kuan Yew (PAP) and Lam Thian (Democratic Party). Credit: Diary of a Nation
Official posters in all four languages assuring that votes were secret. Credit: Diary of a Nation
Banner outside polling station. Credit: Diary of a Nation

The poster below was produced to show the members of the Legislative Assembly elected in the 1955 election.

Credit: National Museum

In 1957, Lee Kuan Yew resigned his seat to recontest it in a by-election in response to David Marshall’s challenge. However Marshall withdrew from the contest and Lee won the by-election with 68.1% of the votes.

Credit: National Museum

In 1959, elections were held to usher in full internal self-government. The PAP and the Singapore Progressive Alliance headed by Chief Minister Lim Yew Hock contested the polls. The PAP won a landslide victory and formed the government for the first time.

Election leaflet from the PAP’s Ong Eng Guan. Credit: Roots.sg
Lim Yew Hock’s election leaflet. Credit: Roots.sg
Election banner of independent candidate and unionist S.T.V. Lingam in 1959. Credit: Diary of a Nation
Liberal Socialist party candidate poster. Credit: Diary of a Nation
The PAP’s Petir newsletter with photos of candidates. Credit: Diary of a Nation

Voting was made compulsory for the first time in 1959 and posters were also produced to remind people of this.

Credit: Youtube
Credit: Youtube
Credit: Youtube
Banners promoting voting. Credit: Youtube

In 1961, David Marshall contested in the 1961 Anson by-election as a Workers’ Party candidate after the PAP Assemblyman died. He won the seat but subsequently lost it in the 1963 general election.

David Marshall’s campaign card. Credit: Roots.sg

In the 1963 general election, Lim Yew Hock’s SPA once again contested. After not winning any seats, the party was dissolved after independence in 1965.

SPA newsletter in 1963. Credit: Roots.sg

After Independence

1972 election poster of Lim Kim San. Credit: NAS
Lee Kuan Yew’s election poster from 1976. Credit: NAS

In 1980, the Workers’ Party’s JB Jeyaretnam produced the poster below. While he was unsuccessful in winning the seat, he contested the 1981 Anson by-election and became the first opposition MP in Parliament since 1966.

Credit: NAS

In 1984, Chiam See Tong successfully contested the seat of Potong Pasir. His poster is below.

Credit: NAS

The 1984 election was the final one contested by Barisan Sosialis. The party merged with the Workers’ Party before the 1988 election.

Credit: NAS

For the 1988 election, the PAP capitalised on the newly opened MRT network to produce the poster below.

Credit: NAS
Lee Kuan Yew’s 1988 election poster. Credit: NAS

As GRCs were introduced in 1988, election posters also featured multiple candidates’ photos for the first time.

Goh Chok Tong’s Marine Parade team in 1988. Credit: NAS

“More Good Years” was a signature slogan for PM Goh Chok Tong in the 1990s and it was reflected in this poster.

Credit: NAS

Seet Ai Mee became infamous for washing her hands after shaking a fishmonger’s hands during a walkabout in the 1991 election. She subsequently lost her seat to the SDP’s Ling How Doong.

Credit: NAS

The Workers’ Party also produced a variety of posters in the 1990s. Below are some examples.

WP’s 1991 poster which featured a stock image of a Western crowd. Credit: NAS
WP’s 1997 poster which had a clearly Singaporean crowd. Credit: NAS

SDP’s Chee Soon Juan contested the 1997 election as party chief after Chiam left and headed the Singapore People’s Party. The SDP lost both seats it had won in 1991.

Credit: NAS

Independent Candidates post-1965

Independent candidates were largely irrelevant after independence. But some dogged individuals continued to produce posters with their meagre resources for elections. Their posters were simple and used generic symbols.

Stanley Mariadass contested against the PAP’s Tony Tan in 1984. He lost with 22.6% of votes.

Credit: NAS

Businessman Lee Mun Hung contested against the PAP’s Hu Tsu Hau in 1984, winning 16.8% of votes.

Credit: NAS

The poster below is the only one where the entire body of the candidate is visible and he is posing with a thumbs up. Yen Kim Khooi won 22% of the votes against the PAP’s Eugene Yap in 1991.

Credit: NAS

Acknowledgement: Many of the images credited to NAS were obtained from the following two blog posts by Justin Zhuang, who did a great job analysing their design elements. [Part 1] [Part 2]

Singapore Election History Primer for #GE2020

This special issue of The Historyogi Post is packed with everything you need to know about the history of elections in Singapore. 

#GE2020 Podcast: The historical roots of electioneering & campaigning in Singapore: 

Listen to this episode of my friend Kwan Jin Yao’s COVID19 Community Chronicles Podcast Series, where we discuss the historical roots of Singapore’s election traditions such as the GRC system, NMP & NCMP schemes, as well as the drawing of electoral boundaries & the involvement of the PA in grassroots & political work. We also take a look at the justifications put forth at that time for electoral reforms as well as the objections expressed against them.

Listen HERE

Singapore’s Past 14 General Elections at a Glance

1959: Secretary-General of People’s Action Party Lee Kuan Yew (right) with party members during general election. Credit: NAS

1959: First election that ushered in full internal self-government for Singapore. The People’s Action Party won the polls for the first time and its leader, Lee Kuan Yew, became the state’s first Prime Minister. Read More

1963: Police officer checking the documents of voters at entrance of polling station. Credit: NAS

1963: First election with Singapore as part of Malaysia. The PAP faced its toughest fight ever, with splinter group Barisan Sosialis and other left wing parties contesting nearly every seat. The PAP argued that a pro-communist victory would lead to KL imposing emergency rule. It won a two-thirds majority, defeating UMNO’s local candidates in Malay-dominated seats. Read More

1968: Mrs Lee Kuan Yew and Lee Hsien Loong waiting for results at the Raffles Institution counting centre. Credit: NAS

1968: First election in independent Singapore. This election had one of the longest campaign periods of six weeks. The Barisan boycotted the polls, giving the PAP a Parliamentary monopoly that would last until 1981. Read More

1972: Harbans Singh speaking at a Barisan rally. Credit NAS

1972: Five opposition parties contested nearly all the seats, with JB Jeyaretnam standing as a Workers’ Party candidate for the first time. But the PAP once again swept every seat, winning 69% of the votes. Read More

1976: S Rajaratnam addressing a rally at Malabar Street. Credit: NAS

1976: Future PM Goh Chok Tong entered politics in this election, together with opposition stalwart Chiam See Tong. Election deposits were increased for the first time and four opposition parties, namely Barisan, Singapore Justice Party, PKMS and United Front, formed the Joint Opposition Council to contest the polls. Read More

1980: Goh Chok Tong at the nomination centre in Tanjong Katong. Credit: NAS

1980: The SDP contested the polls for the first time. PAP MP Phey Yew Kok caused a stir when he jumped bail and fled embezzlement charges (he surrendered in 2015). The PAP once again swept all seats for the 4th consecutive time. Read More

1984: JB Jeyaretnam waving to supporters. Credit: NAS

1984: The PAP’s Graduate Mothers Scheme and proposed increase to the CPF withdrawal age caused public anger. Future PM Lee Hsien Loong entered politics in this election, while pioneer leaders Goh Keng Swee and Ong Pang Boon retired. The PAP lost over 10 percentage points in the popular vote. Chiam See Tong entered Parliament for the first time, winning Potong Pasir. The NCMP scheme was introduced but opposition candidates declined their offers. Read More

1988: A journalist updating the newsroom from the nomination centre. Credit: NAS

1988: The GRC system debuted, replacing most of the single-seat constituencies. Pioneer leaders Toh Chin Chye and S Rajaratnam retired, and this was Lee Kuan Yew’s final election as PM. Barisan merged with the WP. Former Law Society president Francis Seow contested under WP and later fled tax evasion charges to the US. Chiam retained the only opposition seat. Read More

1991: Low Thia Khiang at the counting centre. Credit: NAS

1991: New PM Goh called for early elections to get a fresh mandate, just a week after the electoral boundaries report was released. The PAP suffered a further drop in its popular vote, losing four seats. The SDP claimed two more seats, and WP’s Low Thia Khiang entered Parliament for the first time after winning Hougang. Read More

1997: Tan Cheng Bock carried by his supporters after winning Ayer Rajah. Credit: NAS

1997: Chiam resigned from the SDP and contested under the Singapore People’s Party banner. The SDP lost its two other seats, ending its Parliamentary presence. The PAP reversed its decline in the popular vote, while JB Jeyaretnam returned to Parliament as an NCMP after losing his Anson seat in 1986. WP’s Tang Liang Hong fled to Australia after the election to escape defamation suits and tax evasion charges. Read More

2001: Lim Swee Say and Sitoh Yih Pin at a rally in Potong Pasir. Credit: NAS

2001: The Singapore Democratic Alliance, led by Chiam, made its debut. Low took over as WP chief from Jeyaretnam, who resigned due to differences. The election deposit was almost doubled to $13,000. Parliament was dissolved just one day after electoral boundaries were unveiled. WP’s Aljunied team was disqualified for filing incomplete papers. The PAP won its largest ever popular vote, with 75.3%. This was Goh’s final election as PM. Read More

2006: WP Supporter at Yio Chu Kang Stadium. Credit: NAS

2006: The first election with Lee Hsien Loong as PM. For the first time, there were contests in six-member GRCs, no forfeiture of election deposits and the PM’s constituency’s popular vote was below the PAP’s national average. The campaign was dominated by the James Gomez saga, but the WP and SDA kept their seats. Read More

2011: WP Rally at Hougang. Credit: Singapore Election Watch

2011: Both Chiam and Low left their seats to lead GRC teams, with the WP capturing Aljunied GRC for the first time. The WP secured the largest opposition presence by a single party with six seats. Chiam’s gamble failed and Potong Pasir was finally lost to the PAP. Voter anger over cost of living, housing, immigration and growing inequality led to the PAP’s lowest popular vote ever at 60.14%. Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong retired from Cabinet. Read More

2015: Party supporters on Nomination Day. Credit: Straits Times

2015: The first election after the passing of Lee Kuan Yew. His death combined with nostalgia and patriotism around the SG50 celebrations, reversed the PAP’s decline in the popular vote. WP barely held on to Aljunied GRC and lost Punggol East, which it had won in 2013’s by-election. The SPP failed to regain Potong Pasir. SDP’s Chee returned to polls after getting discharged from bankruptcy. Read More

Four Iconic Opposition Politicians from Our Past

Credit: NAS

Ong Eng Guan: Ong joined the PAP in 1954 and became party treasurer. In 1957, the PAP won the City Council elections and Ong became Mayor of Singapore. His tenure was tumultuous, with repeated clashes with staff and new initiatives that bypassed existing bureaucracy in an attempt to be more accessible to the masses. In 1959, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly and became the first Minister for National Development. Ong was expelled in 1961 for repeatedly challenging the party leadership with public criticism. He immediately formed the United People’s Party and won his old seat back in a by-election. As his political fortunes faded, Ong resigned in 1965 and sank into obscurity. Read More

Credit: NAS

Chia Thye Poh: Chia was a Barisan Sosialis MP who resigned his seat in 1966. Shortly after, he was detained under the Internal Security Act. The government claimed he was a member of the Communist Party of Malaya and involved in subversive activities, charges that he repeatedly denied. Chia was imprisoned for 23 years until 1989 when he was released under restrictions. He was completely freed in 1998, holding the distinction of being Singapore’s longest held political prisoner to date. Read More

Credit: NAS

Harbans Singh: Harbans was a lawyer who built an infamous reputation as a maverick. His party, the United People’s Front, made headlines in the 1976 election for its election slogan “Kick out the PAP to end the fascist, dictatorial, blood sucking, arrogant and money faced regime”. Despite poor results, Harbans continued contesting elections, making a name for himself as an entertaining speaker with outrageous comments. His party became inactive after the 1988 election. Read More

Credit: NAS

Ling How Doong: Lim was the SDP Chairman who defeated the PAP MP Seet Ai Mee (who became notorious for washing her hands after shaking a fishmonger’s hands) in Bukit Gombak. When Chiam fell out with SDP and left, Ling remained in the party and supported Chee Soon Juan. In 1996, Ling made headlines when, in response to some comment whispered by Chiam to him in Parliament, he retorted “Don’t talk cock”. He was censured for using inappropriate language in the chamber and later lost his seat in the 1997 polls. Read More

Quotable Quotes from Politicians Past & Present

“The only way to avoid making mistakes is not to do anything. And that … will be the ultimate mistake.”

Goh Keng Swee

“And even from my sick bed, even if you are going to lower me into the grave, and I feel that something is going wrong, I’ll get up.”

Lee Kuan Yew

“Fair-weather Singaporeans will run away whenever the country runs into stormy weather. I call them ‘quitters’. Fortunately, ‘quitters’ are in the minority. The majority of Singaporeans are ‘stayers'”

Goh Chok Tong

“Suppose you had 10, 15, 20 opposition members in Parliament. Instead of spending my time thinking what is the right policy for Singapore, I’m going to spend all my time thinking what’s the right way to fix them, to buy my supporters votes, how can I solve this week’s problem and forget about next year’s challenges?”

Lee Hsien Loong

“We have to pursue the subject of fun very seriously if we want to stay competitive in the twenty-first century.”

George Yeo

“Sir, do not forget that even if you do not pay peanuts, but pay with a bigger piece, say, a banana instead, you can still get a monkey.”

Low Thia Khiang

“A political opponent is not an enemy – an honest opponent should be treated with respect however bitter the opposition of his views. It is the essence of democratic progress to recognize that political opponents have material contribution to make to the thinking and efficiency of the government process and the education of the people. Abuse, ostracism, refusal to speak to one another, vicious slander; these are the symptoms of infantile arrogance enshrined in the traditions of rigid dictatorships.”

David Marshall

“You put out a funny podcast. You talk about bak chor mee. I will say mee siam mai hum,”

Lee Hsien Loong

“Ownself check ownself!”

Pritam Singh

“If Aljunied decides to go that way, well Aljunied has five years to live and repent.”

Lee Kuan Yew

The historical roots of electioneering & campaigning in Singapore

I had the great opportunity to collaborate with my friend Kwan Jin Yao on an episode of his COVID-19 Community Chronicles. We discuss the historical roots of Singapore’s election traditions such as the GRC system, NMP & NCMP schemes, as well as the drawing of electoral boundaries & the involvement of the PA in grassroots & political work. We also take a look at the justifications put forth at that time for electoral reforms as well as the objections expressed against them.

Click HERE to listen to the episode.

Historyogi Post Issue 75

The 75th issue of The Historyogi Post is out now!

  • Ministers give speeches ahead of election
  • The case for moving colonial statues to museums
  • Singapore’s first ever batch of local currency

Read More: https://tinyletter.com/historyogipost/letters/historyogi-post-75-elections-are-coming-storm-over-colonial-statues-and-singapore-s-valuable-orchids

Subscribe here: http://tinyletter.com/historyogipost