SINGAPORE: The founding chairman of the People’s Action Party – and a founding father of modern Singapore – Dr Toh Chin Chye, has died. He was 90 years old.Dr Toh Chin Chye had served as a Cabinet minister from 1959 to 1981, with nine of those years as deputy prime minister.He was the son of a small town bicycle shop owner in Perak, Malaysia.
But his academic brilliance was to take him away from his hometown, on scholarship after scholarship, from Anglo Chinese School in Ipoh, to Raffles College in Singapore, and then on to London for a doctorate in physiology.It was in London that Dr Toh Chin Chye got closer to his future political comrades, Dr Goh Keng Swee and Mr Lee Kuan Yew.On his return to Singapore, Dr Toh Chin Chye became a lecturer at the College of Medicine.
But his political activism continued as he joined in the secret political discussions started by Mr Lee at his home.Following Dr Toh Chin Chye’s suggestion, the People’s Action Party was formed in November 1954, with Dr Toh Chin Chye as its founding chairman.In 1959, when Singapore was given self-rule, the PAP scored a landslide victory in the 1959 Legislative Assembly election.The party had to choose its man for prime minister, but the votes were split evenly between PAP Secretary-General Lee Kuan Yew and Mayor Ong Eng Guan.
As party chairman, Dr Toh Chin Chye held the deciding vote – and he voted for Mr Lee.Dr Toh Chin Chye himself was sworn in as deputy prime minister, a post he held till 1968.And it was he who chaired the committee which came up with a new flag for Singapore.From the early years, Dr Toh Chin Chye was at the forefront of the PAP’s fight for power.
He was also the voice of moderation which helped hold together a party divided between left wing pro-communists and moderates.In a tribute years later, Mr Lee Kuan Yew said without Dr Toh Chin Chye holding the fort in the PAP, the party might never have held together.As PAP chairman, Dr Toh Chin Chye had considerable influence.After the merge with Malaysia in 1963, two collective party decisions led by him and another Old Guard leader Mr S Rajaratnam when Mr Lee was away, had long-term repercussions.
Dr Toh Chin Chye’s long-time personal assistant Ronald Ho told reporters that Dr Toh Chin Chye died in his sleep this morning at around 930am.Calling Dr Toh Chin Chye his mentor, Mr Ho said since his retirement, Dr Toh Chin Chye had been spending with his grandchildren, who live next door to him.He said Dr Toh Chin Chye was in good spirits the days before died, although he had begun to deteriorate about two to three years ago after his daughter died.Earlier, party members Ong Pang Boon and Chen Chee Seng also came to Dr Toh Chin Chye’s house.
Toh Chin Chye (simplified Chinese: 杜进才; traditional Chinese: 杜進才; pinyin: Dù Jìncái; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Tō͘ Chìn-châi; 10 December 1921 – 3 February 2012) was a politician from Singapore. Toh Chin Chye was a prominent member of the country’s first generation of political leaders after Singapore became independent in 1965, serving as Deputy Prime Minister (1965–1968), Minister for Science and Technology (1968–1975) and Minister for Health (1975–1981). Toh Chin Chye also served as the Chairman of the People’s Action Party (PAP) from 1954 to 1981, and as the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Singapore from 1968 to 1975. After he left the Cabinet in 1981, Toh Chin Chye continued to serve as a Member of Parliament (MP) on the backbenches until he retired from politics in 1988.
Toh Chin Chye Academic career:Toh Chin Chye began his career as an academic. Toh Chin Chye was Reader in Physiology at the University of Singapore from 1958 to 1964. Toh Chin Chye became the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Singapore while concurrently serving as the Minister for Science and Technology from 1968 to 1975.
Toh Chin Chye Political career:Toh Chin Chye became politically active during his time as a university student in London, when he served as the Chairman of the Malayan Forum, an anti-colonial group for students from Malaya and Singapore (which included two future Prime Ministers of Singapore and Malaysia, Lee Kuan Yew and Tun Abdul Razak) which met regularly for discussions and debates on the future of the Malayan region.
Toh Chin Chye was among the founder members of the People’s Action Party and the party’s Chairman from its formation in 1954 to 1981, save for a brief period in 1957 when leftists, who dominated the common membership in 1957, elected leftist leaders and took over the party leadership. The founding members were restored when many of the leftist leaders were arrested by Lim Yew Hock in his anticommunist crackdown, allowing for the restoration of the original “basement group” of Toh Chin Chye, Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Keng Swee, et al to the Central Executive Committee (CEC). Following this, Toh Chin Chyeimplemented a cadres system to prevent from the newcomer “ordinary members”, including leftist sympathisers, from having undue influence over the membership of the CEC.Toh Chin Chye was elected as a PAP member for Rochor in the 1959 Singapore general election.Toh Chin Chye was a key member of Lee Kuan Yew’s faction in their fight against their rivals within the party.