Thursday, September 21, 2006

 

Lim Chin Siong

Lim Chin Siong (Chinese: 林清祥; pinyin: Lín Qīngxiáng; 28 February 1933 - 5 February 1996) was an influential leftwing politician and trade union leader in Singapore in the 1950s and 1960s.

Early life
Born in Telok Ayer Street, Lim studied first in Johore, before entering Singapore’s Catholic High School and The Chinese High School in 1949 and 1950 respectively. He was later expelled for engaging in subversive activities in the Anti-British League.

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Political career
Lim’s influence in politics stemmed from his union work as a paid organiser of the Singapore Bus Workers Union and the Singapore Factory and Shop Workers Union. Together with his strength in Chinese oratory which was a critical factor for tapping the support of the Chinese-speaking masses, he was recruited into the PAP by Lee Kuan Yew.

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Rise
Lim joined the People's Action Party (PAP) in 1954. His popularity raised rapidly and he became the leader of Chinese workers, trade unions and Chinese middle school students in the 1950s. He was slim, youthful, dedicated, and had a handsome boyish face. His oratory as a speaker in Hokkien among the Chinese masses was legendary. In his political memoir The Singapore Story, Lee Kuan Yew offered ungrudging praise to Lim's "hypnotic" oratory:

"...a ringing voice that flowed beautifully in his native Hokkien. The girls adored him, especially those in the trade unions. Once he got going after a cold start at the first two meetings, there was tremendous applause every time he spoke. By the end of the campaign, Lim Chin Siong was seen as a charismatic figure and a person to be reckoned with in Singapore politics and, what was of more immediate concern, within the PAP."
At a young age of 22, He was elected into the legislative assembly as a member for Bukit Timah in 1955 and together with Lee, represented the PAP in the 1956 constitutional talks in London.

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Decline
In 1955, Lim and his close associate Fong Swee Suan instigated a labour strike by bus workers that resulted into the violent Hock Lee bus riots. He later led the Chinese Middle School riots in 1956 with further violence. The Chief Minister Lim Yew Hock suppressed the riots aggressively and Lim Chin Siong, with many other pro-communists, were arrested. He was released in 1959 after PAP won the first General Election. However, he broke off with the Lee Kuan Yew-led PAP (which now tried to get rid of its left-winged allies) and formed the Barisan Sosialis Party in 17 September 1961. After Singapore's national referendum which affirmed merger with Malaysia, Lim Chin Siong and many opposition party members were detained under the Internal Security Act by the ruling PAP government via the infamous Operation Coldstore on 2 February 1963. The Barisan Sosialis contested the 1963 general election while Singapore as a state of Malaysia. Though they put up a fierce fight, crippled by Operation Coldstore, they lost. The Barisan Sosialis never recovered and declined.

During detention, Lim was reported to be depressed and suicidal. He was finally released from prison on July 28, 1969 after renouncing politics and went into exile in London. He returned to Singapore in 1979 with his family. The Barisan Sosialis would merge into the Workers' Party in 1988. Lim Chin Siong died of a heart attack on 5 February 1996.

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Legacy
Lim and his followers' contribution to Singapore’s political development was that their dedication and selfless dedication to their cause helped to ensure that the ruling PAP also have to make sure that incorruptibility and integrity are central to their political legitimacy in Singapore. Lee Kuan Yew wrote of Lim in his obituary:

“I liked and respected him for his simple lifestyle and his selflessness. He did not seek financial gain or political glory. He was totally committed to the advancement of his cause…Because of the standards of dedication they set, we, the English-educated PAP leaders, had to set high standards of personal integrity and spartan lifestyles to withstand their political attacks. They were ruthless and thorough. We became as determined as they were in pursuing our political objectives.”[1]
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Notes
↑ http://ourstory.asia1.com.sg/independence/ref/limqte.html
[The Abortion of a Prime Minister[2]
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References
Lam, Peng Er and Tan, Kevin (Ed.) (2000). Lee’s Lieutenants. Singapore: Allen & Unwin. ISBN - 1864486392
Lee, Kuan Yew (1998). The Singapore Story: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew. Singapor: Times Editions. ISBN - 9812049835
Tan Jing Quee, Jomo K.S. (Ed.).(2001). 'Comet in our sky : Lim Chin Siong in history' ISBN - 9839602144
http://singaporegovt.blogspot.com/2006/07/history-of-pap-part-iv-lim-chin-siong.html
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lim_Chin_Siong"

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