Past and present leaders of Singapore

Singapore Infopedia


Resident and Commandant of Singapore (East India Company), 1819–1823
6 Feb 1819–1 May 1823:
 William Farquhar

Resident of Singapore (East India Company), 1823–1826
9 Jun 1823–14 Aug 1826:
 John Crawfurd2

Resident councillors (East India Company), 1826–18673
15 Aug 1826–18 Nov 1827: John Prince
29 Nov 1827–Dec 1833: Kenneth Murchison
Dec 1833–1836: Samuel George Bonham
4 Mar 1837–1856: Thomas Church
1856–1859: Henry Somerset MacKenzie
1860–1867: Ronald Macpherson

Governors of the Straits Settlements (under British India), 1826–18674
27 Nov 1826–1830: Robert Fullerton
1830–6 Dec 1833: Robert Ibbetson
7 Dec 1833–17 Nov 1836: Kenneth Murchison
18 Nov 1836–Jan 1843: Samuel George Bonham
Aug 1843–20 Mar 1855: William John Butterworth
21 Mar 1855–Aug 1859: Edmund Augustus Blundell
6 Aug 1859–16 Mar 1867: William Orfeur Cavenagh 

Governors of the Straits Settlements (direct Crown control), 1867–19465
17 Mar 1867–3 Nov 1873: Harry St George Ord
4 Nov 1873–7 May 1875: Andrew Clarke 
8 May 1875–3 Apr 1877: William Francis Drummond Jervois 
Aug 1877–10 Feb 1879: William Cleaver Francis Robinson
6 May 1880–17 Oct 1887: Frederick Aloysius Weld
17 Oct 1887–30 Aug 1893: Cecil Clementi Smith
1 Feb 1894–7 Dec 1899: Charles Bullen Hugh Mitchell
17 Feb 1901–12 Jan 1904: Frank Athelstane Swettenham
15 Apr 1904–9 Apr 1911:
 John Anderson

2 Sep 1911–24 Aug 1919: Arthur Henderson Young
3 Feb 1920–5 May 1927: Laurence Nunns Guillemard
3 Jun 1927–20 Oct 1929: Hugh Charles Clifford 
20 Nov 19297–16 Feb 1934: Cecil Clementi
9 Nov 1934–14 Feb 1942: Shenton Thomas Whitelegge Thomas8
16 Aug 1945–31 Mar 1946: Shenton Thomas Whitelegge Thomas (he was a prisoner-of-war from 15 February 1942 to 15 August 1945 during the Japanese Occupation)

British Military Administration, 1945–1946
5 Sep 1945–31 Mar 1946: Louis Mountbatten9

Governors of the crown colony of Singapore, 1946–195910
1 Apr 1946–20 Mar 1952: Franklin Gimson
23 Apr 1952–3 Jun 1955: John Fearns Nicoll
30 Jun 1955–4 Dec 1957: Robert Brown Black
9 Dec 1957–2 Jun 1959: William Goode

Chief ministers 1955–195911
6 Apr 1955–7 Jun 1956: David Marshall
8 Jun 1956–1 Jun 1959: Lim Yew Hock

Heads of State (Yang di-Pertuan Negara), 1959–196512
3 Jun 1959–2 Dec 1959: William Goode
3 Dec 1959–21 Dec 1965: Yusof bin Ishak

Presidents of Singapore, 1965–
9 Aug 1965–23 Nov 1970: Yusof bin Ishak13
2 Jan 1971–12 May 1981: Benjamin Henry Sheares14
24 Oct 1981–28 Mar 1985: Chengara Veetil Devan Nair (C. V. Devan Nair)15
2 Sep 1985–1 Sep 1993: Wee Kim Wee16
1 Sep 1993–31 Aug 1999: Ong Teng Cheong (first elected president)17
1 Sep 1999–31 Aug 2011: Sellapan Ramanathan (S R Nathan)18
1 Sep 2011–31 Aug 2017: Tony Tan Keng Yam19
14 Sep 2017–14 Sep 2023: Halimah Yacob20
14 Sep 2023–: Tharman Shanmugaratnam21

Prime ministers, 1959–
5 Jun 1959–28 Nov 1990: Lee Kuan Yew22
28 Nov 1990–12 Aug 2004: Goh Chok Tong23
12 Aug 2004–: Lee Hsien Loong24


Vernon Cornelius

1. John Bastin, Raffles and Hastings: Private Exchanges behind the Founding of Singapore (Singapore: National Library Board and Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2014), 48 (Call no. RSING 959.5703 BAS-[HIS]); Eli Solomon, William Farquhar’s Life in the Far East: A Chronology (Singapore: Singapore Resource Library: National Library Board, 1996), 49. (Call no. RSING 959.503 SOL)
2. Charles Burton Buckley, An Anecdotal History of Old Times in Singapore (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1984), 141. (Call no. RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS])
3. Saran Singh, The Encyclopaedia of the Coins of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei 1400–1986 (Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia Numismatic Society, 1986), 449. (Call no. RSING 737.49595 SAR)
4. Singh, Encyclopaedia of the Coins, 284.
5. Singh, Encyclopaedia of the Coins, 284–5.
6. “The ‘Government Gazette’,” Straits Times, 21 February 1901, 2; “Sir Frank Swettenham’s Retirement,” Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (Weekly), 27 January 1904, 55. (From NewspaperSG)
7.  “Sir Cecil Clementi Resigns the Governorship,” Straits Times, 15 June 1934, 11. (From NewspaperSG)
8. Brian Montgomery, Shenton of Singapore: Governor and Prisoner of War (Singapore: Times Books International, 1984), 17. (Call no. RSING 941.0840924 SHE.M)
9. K Mulliner and Lian The-Mulliner, Historical Dictionary of Singapore (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1991), 166. (Call no. RSING 959.57003 MUL-[HIS])
10. Singh, Encyclopaedia of the Coins, 450.
11. Singh, Encyclopaedia of the Coins, 450.
12. Singh, Encyclopaedia of the Coins, 450;
13. “Life and Times of Yusof Ishak, Singapore's First President,” Straits Times, 18 August 2014.
14. Singh, Encyclopaedia of the Coins, 450.
15. Singh, Encyclopaedia of the Coins, 450;The Crash of ‘81’: ‘We’re Not to Blame: Now He’s President Nair,” Straits Times, 25 October 1981, 1 (From NewspaperSG); Parliament of Singapore, Resignation of Mr C. V. Devan Nair President of the Republic of Singapore, vol. 45 of Parliamentary Debates: Official Report, 13 March 1967, cols. 1684–6 (Call no. RCLOS 328.5957 SIN)
16. “Wee Sworn in as President,” Business Times, 3 September 1985, 1; “PM Makes Farewell Call,” Straits Times, 2 September 1993, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
17. “President Ong to Work with Govt to Shape Political System,” Business Times, 2 September 1993, 1; “President Ong, Says ‘Thank You’,” Straits Times, 1 September 1999, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
18. Zuraidah Ibrahim, “Nathan Sworn in as Sixth President,” Straits Times, 2 September 1999, 1; Gan Ling Kai, “See You, Mr President,” New Paper, 31 August 2011, 6–7. (From NewspaperSG)
19. Gan, “See You, Mr President”; “Tony Tan Keng Yam,” President’s Office, accessed 3 October 2017; L. Chia, “Saying Goodbye: President Tony Tan's Last Day in Office,” Channel NewsAsia, 1 September 2017 (From Factiva via NLB's eResources website) 
20. “Biography of the President,” President’s Office, accessed 3 October 2017.
21. “Goh Yan Han, "Tharman Sworn In as S’pore’s 9th President, Reiterates Plans to Unite Nation," Straits Times, 15 September 2023, A1. (From Newslink via NLB’s eResources website).
22. “
Cabinet Swearing in Today at City Hall,” Singapore Standard, 5 June 1959, 1 (From NewspaperSG); K Mulliner and The-Mulliner, Historical Dictionary of Singapore, 167.
23. Bertha Henson and Zuraidah Ibrahim, ”VIPs to Witness Historic Swearing-In of New PM,” Straits Times, 28 November 1990, 20; Laurel Teo, “PM Goh Chairs Last Cabinet Meeting,” Straits Times, 12 August 2004, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
24. Laurel Teo, “President to Ask DPM Lee to Form New Govt,” Straits Times, 10 August 2004, 5 (From NewspaperSG); “Lee Hsien Loong,” Prime Minister’s Office, accessed 4 July 2017.

The information in this article is valid as of 3 October 2017 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.


Rights Statement

The information on this page and any images that appear here may be used for private research and study purposes only. They may not be copied, altered or amended in any way without first gaining the permission of the copyright holder.

More to Explore

Johnston's Pier


Johnston’s Pier was a jetty that once stood along Collyer Quay, opposite Fullerton Square and the Hong Kong Bank Building on Battery Road. Built to facilitate the movement of goods and passengers, it was completed on 13 March 1856. In its time, many famous dignitaries – including British royalty and...

Strait of Johor


The Strait of Johor is situated north of Singapore, between mainland peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. The Territorial Waters Agreement of 1927 specified an imaginary line in the Johor Strait as an international boundary, following which a new boundary line was drawn in 1994 to help resolve future border disputes. There...

Cross Street


Cross Street is a one-way street that begins from Raffles Quay. The street becomes Upper Cross Street after meeting South Bridge Road and ends at Havelock Road. Cross Street intersects with several historic streets in Singapore, such as Telok Ayer Street, Amoy Street, China Street, South Bridge Road, New Bridge...

Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system


The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system is a rail network that is the backbone of Singapore’s public transport system. Officially launched in 1988, the MRT system currently comprises four main lines: North-South, East-West, North-East and Circle. Additional lines are in the process of construction. As of 2012, the rail network...

Robinson Road


A significant part of Singapore’s commercial centre, Robinson Road stretches from Maxwell Road to Finlayson Green. The street was named after Francis William Robinson, the governor of the Straits Settlements from 1877 to 1879. ...

Keppel Road


Keppel Road is located in the Tanjong Pagar sub-zone of the Bukit Merah Planning Area within Singapore’s Central Region. The road was developed through the reclamation of mangrove swamps and mudflats that stretched from Tanjong Pagar to Telok Blangah, and was named after Captain (and later Admiral) Henry Keppel (1809–1904)....

Pagoda Street


Located in Chinatown, Pagoda Street runs parallel to Mosque Street and Temple Street. Together with Trengganu Street, it was converted into a pedestrian mall in 1997. ...

MacRitchie Reservoir


Situated off Lornie Road and completed in the late 1860s, MacRitchie Reservoir was the first water supply system implemented in Singapore. The Impounding Reservoir or Thomson Road Reservoir, as it was originally called, came about through the donation of S$13,000 by philanthropist Tan Kim Seng in 1857. The reservoir...

Banda Street


Banda Street is a one-way road in Chinatown connecting Sago Street to Dickenson Hill Road. It was probably named after the Indonesian cities of Banda Aceh (Aceh) in Sumatra or Banda Besar in Molucca Islands. ...

Alexander Laurie Johnston


Alexander Laurie Johnston (b. Dumfriesshire, South Scotland–d. 19 February 1850, Bluehill, Kircudbright, Scotland), a former ship’s owner/captain, merchant, businessman, magistrate and Justice of the Peace, arrived in Singapore between 1819 and 1820. One of the earliest and much-liked settlers, he was among the first magistrates appointed by Sir Stamford Raffles....