Edmund William Barker, or better known as E.W. Barker, was a key Old Guard leader and was Singapore’s longest-serving Law Minister. A trained lawyer, Mr Barker was appointed as Minister for Law in 1964 – a position he held his retirement from politics in 1988.
Mr Barker played an important role during Singapore’s separation from Malaysia in 1965. He drafted the separation documents and participated in talks with the Malaysian leaders. It took 10 days for Mr Barker to draft, circulate, amend and finalise the documents. Mr Barker was the first person from Singapore’s Cabinet to sign the finalised separation documents in the early hours of 7 August 1965.
Mr Barker also helmed other ministerial portfolios including national development, the environment, science and technology and home affairs during his term.
Another one of Mr Barker’s significant achievements was the introduction of the Preservation of Monuments Act. As Minister for National Development, Mr Barker wanted to ensure the monuments remain as markers of Singapore’s history and not be neglected.
An avid sportsman, Mr Barker was also the driving force behind the construction of the National Stadium for the 1973 SEA Games. Mr Barker would later become the first Singaporean to be awarded the Olympic Order (Silver) by the International Olympic Committee in recognition of his work to promote Olympic ideals.