Remembering Dr Toh Chin Chye

Dr Toh Chin Chye was the son of a bicycle shop owner in Perak, Malaysia and was awarded academic scholarships to Anglo Chinese School in Ipoh, to Raffle College in Singapore and to London for a doctorate in physiology.

In London, Dr Toh got to know Dr Goh Keng Swee and Mr Lee Kuan Yew. His political activism continued as he joined the secret political discussions started by Mr Lee when he returned to Singapore.

Dr Toh became the Founding Chairman of the People's Action Party when it was founded in November 1954.

In 1959, Dr Toh was sworn in as Deputy Prime Minister after PAP's landslide election victory and held the post until 1968.

He served as Cabinet Minister from 1959 to 1981, with nine of those years as Deputy Prime Minister.

He was also instrumental in holding together a party divided between left wing pro-communists and moderates.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew said in a tribute years later that the PAP might have never held together if it wasn't for Dr Toh holding the fort.

He was appointed Vice-Chancellor of the University of Singapore in 1968 and served a stint in the Cabinet with a new portfolio as the Minister for Science and Technology.

Dr Toh was a Cabinet Minister until 1981, when he left to make way for younger ministers as part of the political renewal process.

He served as the Deputy Prime Minister from 1959 to 1968, as Minister for Science and Technology from 1968 to 1975 and as Minister for Health from 1975 to 1981.

Dr Toh helped to design a new flag for Singapore and chose 'Majulah Singapura' as the national anthem during the early years.

He retired as the MP for Rochor in 1988 at the age of 67.

paullim@sph.com.sg

Dr Toh Chin Chye passes away at 90
Click on thumbnail to view (Photos: New Nation, ST, Zaobao)
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