1959 Singaporean general election

General elections were held in Singapore on 30 May 1959. They were held under the new constitution and were the first in which all 51 seats in the Legislative Assembly were filled by election. This was the first election victory for the People's Action Party (PAP), as they won a landslide victory with 43 seats, and the party has remained in power ever since these elections.

1959 Singaporean general election

30 May 1959

All 51 seats to the Legislative Assembly
26 seats needed for a majority
Turnout527,919 (90.07%)
  First party Second party Third party
Leader Lee Kuan Yew Lim Yew Hock Abdul Hamid Jumat
Seats won 43 4 3
Seat change 39 New 2
Popular vote 281,891 107,755 27,448
Percentage 54.08% 20.67% 5.27%
Swing 45.36pp New 1.61pp

Results by constituency

Chief Minister before election

Lim Yew Hock

Prime Minister after election

Lee Kuan Yew


Political developments

David Marshall, the politician who led the ruling Labour Front after winning the previous general election in 1955, was vocally anti-British and anti-colonialist, and the British found it difficult to come to an agreement or a compromise about a plan for self-government; Marshall resigned from the party a year later, pledging that he would either achieve self-government or to resign. In his place, Lim Yew Hock pursued an aggressive anti-communist campaign and manage to convince the British to make a definite plan for self-government.

By the time of the 1959 elections the Labour Front was in turmoil; Lim's strategy against the communists alienated a large part of the Chinese Singaporean electorate, which was the demographic targeted most during the anti-communist campaign. Lim's campaign also saw allegations of civil rights violations as many activists were detained without trial with the justification of internal security and tear gas were used against demonstrating students during the 1956 Chinese middle schools riots which were both anti-colonialist and anti-communist alike.

Constitutional reform

The Constitution of Singapore was revised accordingly in 1958, replacing the Rendel Constitution with one that granted Singapore self-government and the ability for its own population to fully elect its Legislative Assembly. Previously under the Rendel Constitution, drawn up in 1955 by a commission led by George William Rendel, the Legislative Assembly and its leaders could not fully be determined by the population; the British government appointed seven of the 32 members, with the remaining 25 seats elected by the public, albeit with limited suffrage. This itself was an improvement from the pre-1955 Legislative Council, electing nine members to the council.

This election was the first election after its full internal self-government granted by the British authorities; Singapore was now a recognised state, but was yet to gain full independence since the British still have external affairs such as the military and foreign relations. Due to the removal of suffrage restrictions, voting was implemented to be compulsory for the first time, and had done so in every election since 1959.


Chief Minister Lim Yew Hock formed Singapore People's Alliance on 10 November 1958, which consist of previously-elected Labour Front assembly members who were defected from Labour Front. SPA also invited members of Liberal Socialists and Workers' Party. SPA was formed to present a fresh image to voters in the lead up for the 1959 election, and ran on secure full employment and fair working conditions for workers, and achieving independence of Singapore through a merger with Malaya.

The tenure of Lim Yew Hock as Chief Minister, who succeeded Labour Front's David Marshall after his resignation in 1956, saw scant improvement to living conditions and unpopular tough measures on protesting unions. Lim's government also saw corruption during his tenure, and until the term expiry for Labour Front, all ten elected Assemblymen had resigned from the party due to credibility. These resignations saw the formation of three parties; in 1957, David Marshall founded the Workers' Party (one of the successful opposition parties of Singapore); in 1958, the Singapore People's Alliance (founded by Lim) and in 1959, the Citizens' Party.

SPA attempted to fight the record of the PAP administration in the City Council of Singapore with charges of corruptly appointing its supporters to fill up posts in the City Council, as well as raising concerns over the tenders of some Council contracts. The SPA even went as far as setting up a Commission of Inquiry in April 1959 to investigate whether there had been "irregularities or improprieties" in the working of the City Council. The inquiry, however, failed to reveal anything suspicious against the City Council and the hearings were adjourned indefinitely.[1][2]

A new Party, Liberal Socialist Party (LSP) was formed by a merger of the Progressive Party and the Democratic Party. The Progressive Party which had won the 1948 and 1951 elections (but lost to Labour Front in the 1955 elections) had already fallen out of favour as it was perceived by much of the electorate by working for reform too slowly.

The Alliance was a coalition comprising the Singapore branch of three political parties from Malaya, namely the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the Malayan Chinese Association (MCA) and the Malayan Indian Congress (MIC), which they ran on raising the standards of living as well as to strengthen economic ties between Singapore and Malaya. As their parent parties were the ruling coalition in Malaya under Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Alliance promised voters that it could work for an early merger if voted into power as they knew "exactly" what their Malayan counterparts wanted.

The Malay Union which ran together with UMNO and MCA in the 1955 election, had been expelled from their alliance for putting up a candidate in the 1957 Cairnhill by-election.

The current opposition party, People's Action Party, announced to contest 51 seats in the election; they released their election manifesto entitled The Tasks Ahead, and outlined the party's five-year plan to address acute problems faced by Singapore. It called for a series of policies and programmes such as the provision of low-cost housing, the strengthening of education, as well as the development of industries thus improving employment opportunities for the local population. These were in addition to the goal of attaining independence for Singapore through a merger with the Federation of Malaya.

The PAP campaigned against corruption under the Lim Yew Hock government, and all party members and candidates wore a distinctive outfit of white shirts and pants (which is still the uniform of PAP candidates as of today) to represent "cleanliness" in government. SPA attempted to portray the PAP as a party being controlled by the communists, and such claims were repeated by Liberal Socialists and UMNO. Lee Kuan Yew brushed off the claims, describing them as "silly", "blabbering" and "lies".[1]


31 MarchDissolution of 1st Legislative Assembly
25 AprilNomination Day
30 MayPolling Day
5 JuneInauguration of the Cabinet with Lee Kuan Yew as inaugural Prime Minister
1 JulyOpening of 2nd Legislative Assembly

Changes to electoral boundaries

The 51 seats of the Legislative Assembly were elected from single-member constituencies, with an increase of 26 seats in this election. The changes among the constituencies were:[3]

Constituency NameChanges
AljuniedCarved out of Paya Lebar
AnsonCarved out of Tanjong Pagar
Bras BasahCarved out of Stamford
Bukit MerahAbsorbed part of Queenstown & Tiong Bahru
Chua Chu KangCarved out of Bukit Panjang
CrawfordCarved out of Rochore
DeltaCarved out of Havelock
Geylang EastCarved out of Geylang
Geylang SeraiCarved out of Ulu Bedok
Geylang WestCarved out of Geylang
Hong LimCarved out of Telok Ayer
Jalan BesarCarved out of Kampong Kapor
Jalan KayuCarved out of Seletar
Joo ChiatCarved out of Katong
JurongCarved out of Bukit Timah
KallangAbsorbed part of Kampong Kapor & Whampoa
Kampong GlamCarved out of Rochore
Kampong KembanganCarved out of Ulu Bedok
Kreta AyerCarved out of Telok Ayer
MoulmeinCarved out of Farrer Park
MountbattenCarved out of Katong
Nee SoonAbsorbed part of Seletar & Sembawang
PunggolCarved out of Punggol–Tampines
River ValleyAbsorbed part of Cairnhill & Tanglin
Sepoy LinesCarved out of Tiong Bahru
Serangoon GardensAbsorbed part of Serangoon & Seletar
SiglapAbsorbed part of Changi & Katong
TampinesCarved out of Punggol–Tampines
Telok BlangahCarved out of Pasir Panjang
ThomsonAbsorbed part of Serangoon & Seletar
Toa PayohCarved out of Whampoa
Ulu PandanCarved out of Tanglin
Upper SerangoonAbsorbed part of Serangoon & Paya Lebar


Many of the campaign issues surrounded the topic of government corruption and independence of Singapore, as well as political issues such as the communist insurgency led by the Malayan Communist Party (MCP), which had been causing the Malayan Emergency. The desire for independence and self-government epitomised by the Malay term Merdeka (which translates to Independence or Free), had started to become immediate. This was reflected when the cry of "We want Merdeka now!" was taken up by those demanding immediate independence.

Prior to the polling day, the press had predicted that the presence of multi-cornered fights would only split the anti-PAP vote, raising chances of a PAP victory.[4]

Chew Swee Kee affair

The Chew Swee Kee affair was also a notable issue raised in the May 1959 elections. In February 1959, PAP charged the incumbent SPA government with receiving political funds from the United States government.

Investigations by a Commission of Inquiry later revealed that Chew Swee Kee, who was then Education Minister, had converted the alleged funds for his own use.[5] The claim has it that Chew accepted around $700,000 to $800,000 from an unrevealed donor[6] in New York City as a "political gift".[7] Chew promptly stepped down from his post[6] on 4 March 1959. The incident is credited for causing the SPA's downfall.[6]

The revelation had a devastating effect on the image of SPA as the party was seen to be serving a Western power, betraying Singapore's anti-colonial movement.


The result was a landslide win for the PAP, with the SPA lost 35 of the 39 contested constituencies and only four members represented the new Assembly. The Labour Front saw a negative swing of about 27% and failed to win any seats. The right-wing coalition party, the Liberal Socialist Party (which formed by a merger of the Democratic Party and Progressive Party) saw a disastrous performance with all of the 32 candidates were defeated, among them 20 candidates who lost their election deposits. A total of 73 candidates lost their $500 election deposit.

PAP candidate Wong Soon Fong was the best performing candidate in this election in percentage terms, polling 77.66% while LSP candidate Lillian Tan was the worst performing candidate polling 0.82%. In absolute numbers, PAP's Goh Keng Swee was the best performing candidate polling 9,313 votes while LSP's Lillian Tan was the worst performing candidate polling 64 votes.

The election, which saw implementations of compulsory voting and the removal of suffrage restrictions, saw a huge increase in voter turnout, with 90.07% of the voters (or 527,919 of the 586,098 registered voters), as compared to 52.66% from the previous election.

People's Action Party281,89154.0843+40
Singapore People's Alliance107,75520.674New
Liberal Socialist Party42,8058.210–6
United Malays National Organisation27,4485.273+2
Malayan Chinese Association5,5931.070–1
Workers' Party4,1270.790New
Labour Front3,4140.650–10
Citizens' Party3,2100.620New
Malay Union2,8190.540–1
Malayan Indian Congress2,0920.400New
Partai Rakyat2,0060.380New
Katong United Residents' Association1,7590.340New
Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party1,0110.190New
Valid votes521,27198.74
Invalid/blank votes6,6481.26
Total votes527,919100.00
Registered voters/turnout586,09890.07
Source: Singapore Elections

By constituency

ConstituencyElectorate Turnout % Party Candidate Votes %
Aljunied 13,255 11,713 88.37 People's Action Party S. V. Lingam 5,701 49.40
Liberal Socialist Party E. H. Holloway 5,004 43.36
Partai Rakyat Tang Yoong Chiaw 835 7.24
Anson 9,921 8,608 86.77 People's Action Party Baharudin bin Mohamed Ariff 5,167 60.75
Singapore People's Alliance Goh Kong Beng 1,875 22.04
Liberal Socialist Party Tan Cheng Chuan 1,231 14.47
Independent Wong Swee Kee 117 1.38
Independent P. Krishanan 116 1.36
Bras Basah 11,193 9,622 85.96 People's Action Party Hoe Puay Choo 6,014 63.25
Liberal Socialist Party Foo Ho Fang 1,993 20.96
Singapore People's Alliance Goh Hin Shong 1,501 15.79
Bukit Merah 11,286 10,146 89.90 People's Action Party Sellappa Ramaswamy 5,922 59.09
Singapore People's Alliance Teo Cheng Hye 3,026 30.20
Independent Lee Choon Eng 1,073 10.71
Bukit Panjang 11,984 10,647 88.84 People's Action Party Lee Khoon Choy 6,156 58.31
Liberal Socialist Party Tan Leong Teck 2,494 23.62
Singapore People's Alliance Lim Siak Guan 1,382 13.09
Malayan Indian Congress T. K. Alexander 526 4.98
Bukit Timah 11,285 10,190 90.30 People's Action Party Yaacob bin Mohamed 6,174 61.14
Liberal Socialist Party Pek Cheng Chuan 2,460 24.36
Independent Lee Yew Seng 1,464 14.50
Cairnhill 12,239 11,045 90.24 Singapore People's Alliance Lim Yew Hock 5,275 48.22
Workers' Party David Marshall 2,920 26.69
People's Action Party Md. Oh Su Chen 2,262 20.68
Liberal Socialist Party Tan Keng Siong 483 4.41
Changi 11,199 9,995 89.25 People's Action Party Teo Hock Guan 3,480 35.10
United Malays National Organisation A. B. Rahman H. M. Said 2,818 28.43
Independent Lim Cher Kheng 2,225 22.45
Liberal Socialist Party Wee Tin Teck 1,024 10.33
Malay Union Fatimah Nor Bt. G. S. 366 3.69
Chua Chu Kang 6,889 6,334 91.94 People's Action Party Ong Chang Sam 3,536 56.29
Independent Neo Koon Hin 1,563 24.88
Singapore People's Alliance Goh Tong Liang 1,183 18.83
Crawford 12,031 10,807 89.83 People's Action Party Kenneth Michael Byrne 7,120 66.57
Singapore People's Alliance Teng Ling Siong 2,487 23.25
Liberal Socialist Party Chua Seng Kian 897 8.39
Independent Sim John 191 1.79
Delta 14,954 13,563 90.70 People's Action Party Chan Choy Siong 9,301 69.45
Malayan Chinese Association Chia Chee Buang 1,212 9.05
Liberal Socialist Party Lim Ah Lee 2,308 17.23
Singapore People's Alliance Munusamy Nadarajah 571 4.27
Farrer Park 10,293 9,291 90.27 Independent Arumugam Ponnu Rajah 4,077 44.52
People's Action Party Tan Teck Ngiap 3,832 41.85
Independent Soo-Tho Sin Hee 789 8.62
Independent Chan Kooi Chew 311 3.40
Geylang East 15,562 13,964 89.73 People's Action Party Mohamed Ismail bin Abdul Rahim 7,153 51.95
Singapore People's Alliance Ng Cheng Chwee 5,775 41.94
Independent Mak Pak Shee 842 6.11
Geylang Serai 14,447 12,694 87.87 United Malays National Organisation Abdul Hamid bin Haji Jumat 7,940 63.09
People's Action Party Roshan bin Hassan 3,832 30.45
Pan-Malayan Islamic Party Syed Ahmad Dahlan 460 3.66
Partai Rakyat Harun bin Mohamed Amin 353 2.80
Geylang West 15,570 13,550 87.03 People's Action Party Yong Nyuk Lin 8,923 67.60
Singapore People's Alliance Kwek Sam Hock 4,276 32.40
Havelock 15,909 14,650 92.09 People's Action Party Lau Peter 9,227 63.60
Independent Ng See Thong 3,562 24.55
Singapore People's Alliance Tan Theng Chiang 963 6.64
Malayan Chinese Association K. S. Loke 433 2.98
Liberal Socialist Party Tan Ah Pak 323 2.23
Hong Lim 12,667 11,604 91.61 People's Action Party Ong Eng Guan 8,834 77.02
Malayan Chinese Association Loh Ngian Lim 1,192 10.39
Liberal Socialist Party Tan Hong Chye 856 7.46
Singapore People's Alliance Sim Wee Teck 588 5.13
Jalan Besar 13,877 12,297 88.61 People's Action Party Chan Chee Seng 7,600 62.48
Singapore People's Alliance Wong Yew Hon 2,573 21.15
Liberal Socialist Party Lo Ka Fat 1,488 12.23
Labour Front See Eng Kiat 503 4.14
Jalan Kayu 8,690 7,844 90.26 People's Action Party Tan Cheng Tong 4,837 62.28
Singapore People's Alliance M. P. D. Nair 2,929 37.72
Joo Chiat 15,257 13,674 89.62 Singapore People's Alliance C. H. Koh 6,136 45.87
People's Action Party Fong Kim Heng 5,301 39.63
Liberal Socialist Party Gay Wan Guay 1,215 9.08
Katong United Residents' Association Low Teck Cheng 405 3.03
Independent Henry Chong 320 2.39
Jurong 7,176 6,476 90.25 People's Action Party Chor Yeok Eng 4,502 70.67
Singapore People's Alliance Wong Tuck Leong 1,325 20.80
Liberal Socialist Party Chia Yeck Poh 375 5.89
Malay Union Aman B. H. Subri 168 2.64
Kallang 12,939 11,984 92.62 People's Action Party Buang bin Omar Junid 5,690 48.18
Singapore People's Alliance Tan Hai Tong 4,967 42.05
Citizens' Party Seah Peng Chuan 1,154 7.18
Kampong Glam 10,934 9,792 89.56 People's Action Party S. Rajaratnam 6,324 65.27
Singapore People's Alliance Mahmood Latiff 1,747 18.03
Liberal Socialist Party Ong Eng Lian 1,377 14.21
Independent Wu Shiaw 241 2.49
Kampong Kapor 12,736 11,455 89.94 People's Action Party G. Kandasamy 6,059 54.27
Singapore People's Alliance Chia Ban Wei 3,632 32.53
Independent Jaganathan S 711 6.37
Independent Choo Yeok Koon 432 3.87
Citizens' Party Yen Jen San 330 2.96
Kampong Kembangan 13,007 11,552 88.81 United Malays National Organisation Mohd. Ali b. Alwi 4,443 38.86
People's Action Party Othman bin Wok 4,199 36.73
Singapore People's Alliance Mohd. b. Hj. Yacob 2,028 17.74
Pan-Malayan Islamic Party H. M. Yahiya 317 2.77
Partai Rakyat A. Latiff b. Ibrahim 231 2.02
Malay Union Jaffar b. Abdul Ghani 215 1.88
Kreta Ayer 14,173 12,995 91.69 People's Action Party Goh Keng Swee 9,313 73.35
Liberal Socialist Party Pang Man Ming 3,384 26.65
Moulmein 10,095 9,251 91.64 People's Action Party Lin You Eng 4,324 47.25
Singapore People's Alliance Yap Jin Yau 3,955 43.22
Liberal Socialist Party Tan Peng Khoo 872 9.53
Mountbatten 10,212 9,055 88.67 Singapore People's Alliance Chua Seng Kim 3,031 33.71
People's Action Party Tay Kum Sun 2,143 23.84
Malayan Chinese Association Wong Foo Nam 1,903 21.17
Katong United Residents' Association Felice Leon Soh 1,354 15.06
Liberal Socialist Party Wee Soo Bee 559 6.22
Nee Soon 8,694 7,764 89.30 People's Action Party Sheng Nam Chin 5,622 73.30
Singapore People's Alliance Yap Chin Poh 1,476 19.24
Liberal Socialist Party Yong Nyuk Khoon 572 7.46
Pasir Panjang 6,631 5,957 89.84 People's Action Party Tee Kim Leng 2,123 36.00
Independent H. J. C. Kulasingha 1,884 31.95
United Malays National Organisation Sukaimi bin Ibrahim 1,704 28.90
Independent S. T. V. Lingam 186 3.15
Paya Lebar 12,089 10,842 89.68 People's Action Party Tan Kia Gan 6,531 60.81
Independent Ong Chye Hock 4,209 39.19
Punggol 9,893 8,905 90.01 People's Action Party Ng Teng Kian 4,072 46.39
Singapore People's Alliance Tan Jin Hong 3,655 41.64
Liberal Socialist Party Quah Heck Peck 554 6.31
Independent Tay Keng Hock 497 5.66
Queenstown 10,634 9,941 93.48 People's Action Party Lee Siew Choh 5,301 53.81
Singapore People's Alliance Chee Phui Hung 3,732 37.88
Independent Lee Kim Chuan 818 8.31
River Valley 10,594 9,534 89.99 People's Action Party Lim Cheng Lock 3,430 36.55
Singapore People's Alliance Soh Ghee Soon 3,425 36.50
Liberal Socialist Party E. K. Tan 2,529 26.95
Rochore 12,436 11,287 80.76 People's Action Party Toh Chin Chye 7,995 71.76
Singapore People's Alliance K. C. Thomas 2,212 19.85
Liberal Socialist Party Tan Soo Wan 934 8.39
Sembawang 8,859 7,948 89.72 People's Action Party Ahmad Ibrahim 4,316 54.69
Malayan Indian Congress V. Jayaram 1,566 19.84
Singapore People's Alliance Chew Seng 1,084 13.74
Liberal Socialist Party Lau Sai Seng 926 11.73
Sepoy Lines 10,347 9,259 89.48 People's Action Party Wee Toon Boon 5,352 58.35
Singapore People's Alliance Goh Su Chiang 3,820 41.65
Serangoon Gardens 8,631 7,934 91.92 People's Action Party Leong Keng Seng 3,843 48.93
Singapore People's Alliance Wee Eric Sian Beng 2,764 35.19
Malayan Chinese Association Liao Ping 853 10.86
Labour Front Victor Louis Fernandez 330 4.20
Liberal Socialist Party Lilian Tan 64 0.82
Siglap 14,693 12,892 87.74 People's Action Party Sahorah bte Ahmat 4,407 34.34
Independent Koh Tee Kin 3,408 26.56
Liberal Socialist Party John Snodgrass 1,511 11.78
United Malays National Organisation Mohd. Sidik bin Hj. Abd. Hamid 1,418 11.05
Independent Abdullah Masood 1,267 9.87
Partai Rakyat Pang Toon Tin 587 4.57
Pan-Malayan Islamic Party A. Wanjor 234 1.83
Southern Islands 5,325 4,879 91.62 United Malays National Organisation Ahmad Jabri B. M. Akib 2,598 53.73
People's Action Party Kum Teng Hock 1,225 25.34
Liberal Socialist Party Ismail Haji Hussain 1,012 20.93
Stamford 12,392 11,039 89.08 People's Action Party Fung Yin Ching 5,372 49.18
Singapore People's Alliance J. M. Jumabhoy 3,810 34.88
Workers' Party Ang Meng Gee 925 8.47
Liberal Socialist Party Hooi Beng Guan 679 6.22
Independent Wong Chee Lim 136 1.25
Tampines 11,468 10,334 90.11 People's Action Party Goh Chew Chua 7,461 73.27
Singapore People's Alliance Ong Phi Hok 2,041 20.04
Independent Lim Choo Ten 681 6.69
Tanglin 9,127 7,934 86.93 Singapore People's Alliance Thio Chan Bee 2,698 34.41
United Malays National Organisation Ahmad b. Hj. Taff 2,386 30.44
People's Action Party Ibrahim bin Othman 2,360 30.11
Liberal Socialist Party Chan Ah Wing 395 5.04
Tanjong Pagar 11,939 10,870 91.05 People's Action Party Lee Kuan Yew 7,617 71.04
Liberal Socialist Party C. Subramanyam 3,105 28.96
Telok Ayer 13,998 12,586 89.91 People's Action Party Ong Pang Boon 8,372 67.38
Singapore People's Alliance Tan Kian Kee 2,106 16.95
Independent Tay Soo Yong 1,660 13.36
Citizens' Party Soh Teck Chee 287 2.31
Telok Blangah 13,202 11,651 88.25 People's Action Party John Mammen 5,803 50.41
United Malays National Organisation Osman Gani 4,141 35.97
Citizens' Party Wee Kim Hock 1,230 10.69
Independent V. Mariappan 337 2.93
Thomson 10,067 9,210 91.49 People's Action Party S.T. Bani 4,978 54.63
Labour Front Francis Thomas 2,581 28.33
Singapore People's Alliance Yap Chin Choon 1,553 17.04
Tiong Bahru 12,151 10,981 90.37 People's Action Party Lee Teck Him 5,175 47.66
Singapore People's Alliance Lin Wo Ling 2,182 20.09
Independent William Tan 1,730 15.93
Liberal Socialist Party Lee Bah Chee 996 9.17
Independent Lim Huan Seng 494 4.55
Workers' Party Chua Chin Kiat 282 2.60
Toa Payoh 12,551 11,442 91.16 People's Action Party Wong Soon Fong 8,693 77.66
Singapore People's Alliance Lee Poh Chee 2,500 22.34
Ulu Pandan 11,017 9,831 89.23 People's Action Party Mohd. Ariff bin Suradi 4,420 45.44
Singapore People's Alliance Leslie Rayner 3,100 31.87
Independent S. Khalaff 1,083 11.13
Independent Low Boon Kiat 361 3.71
Independent Anthony Ponnusamy 296 3.04
Liberal Socialist Party M. Karthigesu 284 2.92
Independent Chua Kim Toh 183 1.89
Upper Serangoon 11,279 10,101 89.56 People's Action Party Chan Sun Wing 4,497 45.06
Singapore People's Alliance Lim Choon Mong 4,372 43.81
Liberal Socialist Party Sin Cho Lang 901 9.03
Citizens' Party Tan Choon Teng 209 2.10
Source: ELD, Singapore Elections


The PAP was able to form a new government which could now adopt domestic policy without oversight from the colonial administration. The United Kingdom still however controlled the military forces, foreign affairs and had a joint responsibility in internal security under agreement. However, historians saw 1959 as the year Singapore achieved self-governance as a result of the new government, even though the Constitution had been amended in 1958.

On the afternoon of 5 June, Lee Kuan Yew was sworn in as the first Prime Minister at City Hall by Yang di Pertuan Negara William Goode along with members of his cabinet.

Before taking over, Lee pardoned several PAP members, who had been arrested under the Emergency Regulation in 1956 and 1957, including left-wing leader Lim Chin Siong. During the election campaign, Lee had called for pardon as part of his election platform, causing an increase of morale of many trade union members.

After their release, Lim and his affiliates would later challenge Lee's leadership in the PAP, leading to the expulsion of most of the left-wing members from the PAP in 1961. The expelled members would then form the Barisan Sosialis, and posed a strong challenge against the PAP on the next election in 1963; although being crippled by Operation Coldstore, they came closer to removing the PAP from power than any other party to date.


Two by-elections, both held in 1961, occurred during the term in Parliament. Former PAP minister Ong Eng Guan was re-elected in Hong Lim running as an independent after leaving the PAP, whilst David Marshall was elected in Anson after the death of PAP MP Baharuddin Mohammed Ariff.


  1. "1959 Legislative Assembly general election". National Library Board. September 2018. Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  2. "LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY GENERAL ELECTION 1959". singapore-elections.com.
  3. Legislative Assembly General Election 1959 Singapore Elections
  4. "The Day of Decision". The Straits Times. 30 May 1959. p. 6.
  5. Quah, Jon S.T. (2011). Curbing Corruption in Asian Countries: An Impossible Dream?. Emerald. p. 218. ISBN 9780857248206.
  6. Lee 2008, p. 153.
  7. Fernandez, George J. (1992). Successful Singapore: A Tiny Nation's Saga from Founder to Accomplisher. SSMB. p. 191. ISBN 9789971981815.


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