Self-governing Singapore’s first Cabinet was sworn in at City Hall on 5 June 1959 after the People’s Action Party (PAP) secured 43 of 51 seats in the general election the same year, and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has taken to Facebook to commemorate its 60th anniversary.
In a post on Thu (6 Jun), Mr Lee recalled the tumultuous journey underwent by the PAP under the helm of Lee Kuan Yew in fighting a “life-and-death battle against the communists and their supporters” and working “tenaciously” for two years in Malaysia “for a multi-racial society, risking arrest or worse”.
“5 June 1959 was one of the milestones that made possible 9 August 1965, and all that followed over the next 54 years. We owe a deep debt of gratitude to this pride of lions who took office 60 years ago, and to the people they led.
“If Singaporeans of that generation – the Pioneer and Merdeka Generations – had not united behind the PAP’s leadership, Tunku Abdul Rahman would never have let Singapore leave Malaysia to become a sovereign independent country,” wrote Mr Lee.
Members of the first Cabinet comprised Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, Deputy Prime Minister Toh Chin Chye, Minister for National Development Ong Eng Guan, Minister for Finance Goh Keng Swee, Minister for Home Affairs Ong Pang Boon, Minister for Labour and Law K. M. Byrne, Minister for Health Ahmad Ibrahim, Minister for Education Yong Nyuk Lin and Minister for Culture S. Rajaratnam.
In his Facebook post, Mr Lee posted a photograph of autonomous Singapore’s first Cabinet alongside a photograph of the 14th Cabinet, the latter of which was taken before a meeting on Thu to mark the historical event. Several Cabinet members such as the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran, Senior Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence Maliki Osman, and Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung, however, were not present due to other engagements.
“As I told my colleagues, the fight continues. The dream of an ever better Singapore is alive and well. Our pledge to be one united people, regardless of race, language or religion, endures,” concluded Mr Lee.