LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY GENERAL ELECTION 1959
This was the first GE for a fully elected legislature after negotiations between the British and Singapore lawmakers to confer Singapore self-governance concluded successfully. Singapore was carved into 51 constituencies, with Geylang, Katong, Punggol-Tampines, Seletar, Serangoon and Ulu Bedok being wiped off the map. The tenure of Lim Yew Hock as Chief Minister, who succeeded David Marshall after his resignation in 1957, saw scant improvement to living conditions and tough measures on protesting unions, causing the ground to turn against him. By the end of LF's term of government, its credibility was in tatters. To face the polls with a fresh image, elected LF Assembly Members abandoned the party to form SPA, leaving it in the hands of the two nominated LF legislators, Minister Francis Thomas and Richard Lim. Shortly after, Thomas quit politics and and Lim joined MCA. Despite receiving a boost from four LSP AMs who defected to SPA, CM Lim's problems did not end as his Education Minister Chew Swee Kee was mired in a corruption scandal and resigned his seat and the party shortly before the polls. Another LSP AM William Tan and SPA Minister Mak Pak Shee quit their parties to sit on the independent benches. Ahmad Ibrahim and Seah Peng Chuan joined PAP and CP respectively, while independent AM Lee Choon Eng, who had joined his erstwhile LF colleagues in SPA, resigned with Mak to become independent again. On nomination day, PAP sprang a surprise by fielding candidates in all the seats. MU was no longer a partner of UMNO and MCA after its expulsion from their alliance for putting up a candidate in the 1957 by-election. Although MIC joined the alliance, it adopted its own symbol as the partnership had not been fully cemented. For the first time, voting was compulsory. In the only GE that saw up to seven-corner contests, PAP won a landslide victory and formed the government for the first time. However, it refused to take office until six of their members detained by the Special Branch were released, namely former AM Lim Chin Siong, C. V. Devan Nair, Chan Chiaw Thor, Fong Swee Suan, James Puthucheary and Sydney Woodhull, all whom were unionists. The British finally acceded to the request. The central executive committee of PAP met and, by a one-vote difference, chose opposition leader Lee Kuan Yew over Ong Eng Guan to become the first Prime Minister of Singapore. The outgoing CM Lim, who ran in what would be his last election, crossed over to head the opposition benches. He and his cabinet resigned from their posts a day after the results.
Old Assembly dissolved: 31 March 1959 [Tue]
Election deposit: $500