By Lulin Reutens
Lim Yew Hock
1914 - 1984
|The man who led the all-party delegation
that won internal self-government for
Singapore was a leader who had power thrust
When it became imminent in 1956
that Singapores first chief minister, David Marshall, would
resign for having failed to gain full
independence, Mr Lim Yew Hock told the press
that he did not want the top job "if he
had the choice".
But a few days later, when Marshall resigned, Lim,
then Minister for Labour and Welfare, was asked to
form the new government.
Despite his apparent diffidence, he slipped into
his new post smoothly.
As an established Singapore delegate throughout
the independence talks with Britain, he continued the
negotiations, but for the less lofty objective of
With that achieved, he moved quickly to try and
suppress the anti-colonial activists and communists.
He banished two Chung Cheng High School teachers
and dissolved the Chinese Middle School
Students Union. Under his direction, the
Special Branch detained Chia Ek Tian, a trade
unionist and member of the PAPs Central
Lims government confirmed its reputation for
toughness in its handling of the Chinese middle
school riots in October
1956. Tear gas and helicopters were brought in and
many key pro-communist union leaders in the PAP were
detained under the Public Security Act.
But in doing so, he alienated a large portion of
the Chinese-speaking electorate, a situation on which
the PAP capitalised in the historic 1959 general election.
Known as a man of the common people, Lim became a
tough Chief Minister, making moves that were to cost
Born: 1914, in
He won a four-year
scholarship to study in London but his plans were
dashed when his father died.
He worked as a
stenographer with Cold Storage until 1947, except for
the war years when he sold charcoal for a living.
He became full-time
secretary of a trade union. In 1948, he became an
appointed member of the Legislative Council,
representing trade unionism.
1949: He joined the
1956 - 1959:
Singapore's second Chief Minister after David
Singapore Peoples Alliance.
Became leader of opposition in the Assembly. Was
bestowed title of Tun.
1963: Stepped down
as SPA chief. Appointed Malaysian High Commissioner
to Australia when Singapore merged with Malaysia.
disappeared for nine days.
1968: Retired to
In later years, he
became a Muslim and adopted the name of Haji Omar Lim
published in The Straits Times on Dec 1, 1984.
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