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Getting to know Dr Toh Chin Chye

29 Aug 2019 2 min read

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Dr Toh Chin Chye, a founding member of the People’s Action Party (PAP) and its first and longest-serving chairman, was responsible for Singapore coat of arms and the national flag. He also chose Majulah Singapura as our National Anthem.  

Dr Toh Chin Chye, an academic, was a core member of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s first government. Dr Toh first met the rest of Singapore’s founding fathers – Mr Lee, Dr Goh Keng Swee, and Mr S Rajaratnam – in London while he was pursuing his studies.

After returning to Singapore, they met fortnightly with several other like-minded individuals to discuss politics at Mr Lee’s home. As Singapore was still under Emergency Rule, Dr Toh suggested forming a legal political party to avoid the risk of being branded as an illegal gathering. Dr Toh suggested the name “Action Party”.

Later on, Dr Toh was elected as the Member of Parliament for Rochor in the 1959 general election. 

Tough and politically astute, Dr Toh was not one to shy from a battle and devoted himself to the service of the country and its people. He played a pivotal role in holding the PAP together in the face of political turmoil during the lead up to Singapore’s merger with the Federation of Malaya and the subsequent separation.

When Singapore became independent in 1965, Dr Toh, who was Chairman of the PAP between 1954 and 1981, became Deputy Prime Minister. He also held several important Cabinet portfolios such as Minister for Science and Technology and Health.

Dr Toh stepped down from the Cabinet and party chairmanship in 1981 and retired from politics in 1988. Dr Toh passed away at the age of 90 on 3 February 2012.