Lim Chin Siong (1933-1996)

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Source: Sunday Times (Singapore)

Quite by chance today, I opened up a newspaper in a coffee shop and saw this man’s face in the Obituary column. I wonder how many Singaporeans under the age of 40 have heard of this man. If you are Singaporean and do not know who he is, ask your parents or grandparents and they will likely tell you about a brilliant young political activist in the 1960s whose talents as an orator were such that he attracted a huge following. A co-founder of the People’s Action Party (PAP), he was supposedly introduced in 1955 to David Marshall, then Singapore’s Chief Minister, as the future Prime Minister of Singapore. The introduction was made by a person named Lee Kuan Yew, someone Singaporeans will have heard of. An edited volume on Lim Chin Siong, Comet in our Sky, is well worth a read. The chapters contributed by T.N. Harper and Greg Poulgrain are particularly interesting in that they draw on British colonial records (released after a 30 year embargo) to explain how and why Lim fell from grace so dramatically. A review of this book was published in Pacific Affairs in 2003.