The First Cabinet is sworn in



The People’s Action Party (PAP) formed the first fully-elected government of Singapore following the party’s victory in the general election of 1959.[1] This marked an important milestone in Singapore's achievement of internal self-rule. The nine-member cabinet comprised Lee Kuan Yew (Prime Minister), Toh Chin Chye (Deputy Prime Minister), Ong Eng Guan (Minister for National Development), Goh Keng Swee (Minister for Finance), Ong Pang Boon (Minister for Home Affairs), K. M. Byrne (Minister for Labour and Law), Ahmad Ibrahim (Minister for Health), Yong Nyuk Lin (Minister for Education) and Sinnathamby Rajaratnam (Minister for Culture).[2] Prime Minister Lee and his cabinet were sworn in at a closed-door ceremony held at City Hall on 5 June 1959 by William Goode, the last governor of Singapore and the first Yang di-Pertuan Negara (Head of State).[3]

Tan Kia Gan was appointed Minister for National Development on 25 August 1960. He replaced Ong Eng Guan, who had been suspended from his duties and subsequently expelled from the PAP for misconduct in July 1960.[4] The cabinet underwent its first reshuffle in September 1961 when K. M. Byrne took over the health portfolio from Ahmad Ibrahim while retaining the law portfolio. The latter then assumed the labour portfolio and became the new Minister for Labour.[5]

1. 2.45 a.m. – PAP romps home with landslide victory. (1959, May 31). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Lee’s cabinet: This is it. (1959, June 6). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. The cabinet to be sworn in today. (1959, June 5). The Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Minister named to take over Ong’s portfolio. (1960, August 25). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Turnbull, C. M. (2009). A history of modern Singapore, 1819–2005 (pp. 277–278). Singapore: NUS Press. Call no.: RSING 959.57 TUR.
Sam, J. (1961, September 24). A pledge to PAP. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Rights Statement

The information in this article is valid as at 2014 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.