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1963 Singaporean general election

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1963 Singapore state election

← 1959 21 September 1963 1968 →

All 51 seats in the Legislative Assembly
26 seats needed for a majority
Turnout587,433 (95.1%)
  First party Second party Third party
Leader Lee Kuan Yew Lee Siew Choh Ong Eng Guan
Leader's seat Tanjong Pagar Rochore
Hong Lim
Last election 43 seats, 54.1%
Seats won 37 13 1
Seat change 6 New New
Popular vote 272,924 193,301 48,785
Percentage 46.9% 33.2% 8.4%
Swing 7.2% New New

Prime Minister before election

Lee Kuan Yew

Elected Prime Minister

Lee Kuan Yew

General elections were held in Singapore on 21 September 1963, five days after the merger with Malaysia. The elections saw the Malaysian ruling party, United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), backed with Singapore Alliance Party (SAP) in an attempt to oust the People's Action Party (PAP), after violating previous agreement not to do so and a highlight in the relations between UMNO and the PAP. However, the result was a victory for the PAP, which won 37 of the 51 seats in the Singapore Legislative Assembly. The 1963 election was the only election to date with no boundary changes to any of the 51 existing constituencies.

As Singapore gained independence in 1965, this election was the only election that was held as a state of Malaysia. After independence, the elected members of the Legislative Assembly would then become Members of the inaugural Parliament of Singapore.

1963 Singaporean general election Intro articles: 54


Although the People's Action Party (PAP) had won 43 seats in the 1959 elections, they lost four seats in 1961 (two were from the by-election defeats, and two defected to the new United People's Party (UPP)). A further 13 legislators were expelled from PAP for voting against the government in a no-confidence motion on 20 July 1961; the dissidents subsequently formed a new party, the Barisan Sosialis (BS), alleging PAP as a communist front. The combination of by-election defeats, defections and expulsions reduced the PAP by 17 seats down to 26, leaving PAP with a one-seat majority.

On 3 July 1962, while the integration referendum debate was in procession, PAP lost its majority following the resignation of legislator Ho Puay Choo (who later joined BS on 11 August). Five days later, UPP legislator S. V. Lingam returned to PAP fold, giving it back its one-seat majority, but five days later, PAP lost its majority again after health minister Ahmad Ibrahim died from liver cancer. BS initially planned to field its iconic leader, Lim Chin Siong, in the vacated seat, but the Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew opted against a by-election, and instead called a fresh election.

On 31 August 1963, Singapore was declared independent with PAP declared as trustees until the merger with Malaysia could be complete. On 3 September, Lee dissolved the Legislative Assembly in accordance with procedure, and called for elections to be held on 21 September.

1963 Singaporean general election Background articles: 7


3 September Dissolution of 2nd Legislative Assembly
12 September Nomination Day
21 September Polling day
22 October Opening of 3rd Legislative Assembly/1st Parliament


The elections, held in the midst of Singapore's merger with Malaysia, are remembered as the PAP's most hard-fought election, as the party fielded a full slate and faced intensive challenges from three components that did nearly the same. BS collated with Parti Rakyat, and fielded candidates in all but two seats, while UPP had an unusual large number of candidates. The PAP government launched Operation Coldstore on 2 February 1963 and detained several BS leaders, including Lim.

On the final night of campaigning, PAP officials warned that should BS win the election and defeat PAP, the Malaysia Federal government could send troops into Singapore to invoke emergency powers in place of the incoming government led by the new pro-communist party, leaving no opportunity for BS to respond. This was said to have accounted for the eventual victory of the PAP the following day.

The sole Workers' Party (WP) legislator David Marshall resigned from the party he founded and became the only independent. Another participant was Singapore Alliance, an extension of the ruling federal Alliance Party in Malaysia, which was a coalition consisting of the Singapore People's Alliance (SPA) along with the local branches of UMNO, the Malayan Chinese Association and Malayan Indian Congress. However, former Chief Minister and leader Lim Yew Hock opted not to run in the elections, citing a defamation campaign by the PAP.[1]

1963 Singaporean general election Timeline articles: 10


The PAP won a landslide victory, securing a two-thirds majority, an outcome that had been in doubt or unexpected in the lead-up to the vote. However, the party's vote share was its lowest-ever at just under 47%. Despite the BS and UPP winning a combined 14 seats, both parties failed to win most of the seats they contested, due to the split of the anti-PAP vote. A total of 92 candidates lost their deposits.

The Singapore Alliance lost all seven seats it had held before dissolution, losing even in core support areas such as Malay constituencies Kampong Kembangan, Geylang Serai and Southern Islands.

Nine incumbent members lost their re-election on the election, among which the defeats of Kenneth Michael Byrne and Tan Kia Gan (in the seats of Crawford and Paya Lebar, respectively) marked the first time a higher-ranked PAP cabinet minister had been defeated in their constituencies. This would not happen again until the 2011 elections, 48 years and 11 elections later, where cabinet ministers Lim Hwee Hua and George Yeo were defeated in his constituency of Aljunied.

Party Votes % Seats +/–
People's Action Party 272,924 46.9 37 −6
Barisan Sosialis 193,301 33.2 13 New
Singapore Alliance 48,967 8.4 0 –7
United People's Party 48,785 8.4 1 New
Partai Rakyat 8,259 1.4 0 0
Pan-Malayan Islamic Party 1,545 0.3 0 0
United Democratic Party 760 0.1 0 New
Workers' Party 286 0.1 0 0
Independents 6,788 1.2 0 −1
Invalid/blank votes 5,818
Total 587,433 100 51 0
Registered voters/turnout 617,450 95.1
Source: Singapore Elections

By constituency

Constituency Electorate Party Candidate Votes %
Aljunied 16,152 People's Action Party S. V. Lingam 7,745
50.90 / 100
Barisan Sosialis Thio Kheng Lock 4,624
30.39 / 100
Singapore Alliance Lim Koon Teck 1,681
11.05 / 100
United People's Party Woo Kong Seng 1,165
7.66 / 100
Anson 9,192 People's Action Party P. Govindasamy 3,957
46.90 / 100
Barisan Sosialis Chan Chong Keen 3,123
37.02 / 100
Singapore Alliance A. K. Isaac 543
6.44 / 100
Independent David Marshall 416
4.93 / 100
United People's Party Vythalingam V. 306
3.63 / 100
Workers' Party Chiang Seok Keong 91
1.08 / 100
Bras Basah 10,678 People's Action Party Ho See Beng 4,926
51.80 / 100
Barisan Sosialis Leong Kwan Fai 3,831
40.28 / 100
United People's Party Pan Cheng Luan 335
3.52 / 100
Singapore Alliance Wong Chin Sen 304
3.20 / 100
Workers' Party Chua Chin Kiat 114
1.20 / 100
Bukit Merah 12,225 Barisan Sosialis Lim Huan Boon 4,963
42.84 / 100
People's Action Party Sellappa Ramaswamy 4,520
39.02 / 100
United People's Party Poon Weng Ying 1,129
9.75 / 100
Singapore Alliance Shums Tung Tao Chang 740
6.39 / 100
Independent Ngon Eng Kok 232
2.00 / 100

1963 Singaporean general election Results articles: 17


Many cited factors that led to the PAP victory include:[2]

  • The PAP's eleventh hour warning to voters that Malaysia would send troops into Singapore and invoke emergency powers in place of the incoming the Barisan government;
  • A strong support among voters for Singapore's merger with Malaya, which was perceived to be jeopardised should Barisan win the election due to its opposition to merger;
  • English-educated middle classes fearful of communism tactically voting for PAP following the split of the leftists away from the party.
  • Barisan's support for Indonesia and the Communist Party of Indonesia's oppositions to the formation of Malaysia, especially when Indonesia had declared Konfrontasi and begun provocative military manoeuvres in Borneo in the lead up to the election;
  • Policies introduced by the government such as building of 26,000 Housing and Development Board flats, reduction in unemployment rate and investment in public services from 1959 to 1963.

To discourage future defections, the PAP government passed a constitutional amendment stipulating that legislators who resign or are expelled from the parties they were elected under would lose their seats. As a result, by-elections were subsequently held in Hong Lim in 1965, seven constituencies in 1966 and five constituencies in 1967. Those victories resulted PAP in achieving a parliament monopoly that would last for the next 15 years until the first elected opposition MP in 1981.

The distribution of 15 Singapore seats in Malaysia's lower house of Parliament (Dewan Rakyat) was based on the outcome of the election. PAP was allocated 12, which were given to Prime Minister Lee, Deputy Prime Minister Toh Chin Chye, ministers Goh Keng Swee, Ong Pang Boon, S. Rajaratnam, Yong Nyuk Lin, Jek Yeun Thong, Lim Kim San, Othman Wok and assembly members Abdul Rahim Ishak, Wee Toon Boon and Ho See Beng. BS was allocated 3: Chia Thye Poh, Lim Huan Boon and Kow Kee Seng.[3][4]

1963 Singaporean general election Aftermath articles: 20

See also


  1. ^ Lau, Albert (1998). A Moment of Anguish: Singapore in Malaysia and the Politics of Disengagement. Singapore: Times Academic Press. ISBN 981-210-1349.
  2. ^ Sonny Yap; Richard Lim; Leong Weng Kam (2010). Men in White: The Untold Story of Singapore's Ruling Political Party. Singapore: Singapore Press Holdings.
  3. ^ "LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY GENERAL ELECTION 1963". Singapore Elections. Retrieved 5 April 2020.