Arumugam Ponnu Rajah



Arumugam Ponnu Rajah (b. 7 July 1911, Port Dickson, Malaya – d. 28 September 1999, Singapore), better known as A. P. Rajah, was Singapore’s first High Commissioner to Britain.1 He was also the first Supreme Court judge to remain on the Bench after turning 70.2

Early Life
Rajah was born in Port Dickson on 7 July 1911. He received his education at St Paul’s Institution (Seremban, Malaya), Raffles Institution and Oxford University, Britain where he obtained a law degree in 1932.3

Career
In 1949, Rajah was elected a city councillor.4 In 1953, he was part of the delegation that represented Singapore at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.5 In 1959, Rajah re-entered politics as an independent candidate, and was elected to the Legislative Assembly.6 He lost his seat in 1963, but became the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly in 1964.7 After Singapore gained independence in 1965, the Legislative Assembly was renamed the Parliament and Rajah became its first Speaker.8 In 1966, Rajah left for London to become Singapore’s first High Commissioner to Britain. From 1971 to 1973, he was High Commissioner to Australia and Fiji.10 Rajah returned to Singapore to resume legal practice in 1973, and was appointed as a Supreme Court judge on 1 October 1976.11 He held the appointment until his retirement on 30 September 1990 at the age of 79. He was conferred the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws by the National University of Singapore on 14 November 1984.12


Rajah died of old age in his home in Balmoral Road on 28 September 1999.13 His wife Vijaya Lakshmi had predeceased him in 1971.14 He was survived by his son Chelva R. Rajah, a senior counsel, and daughter Mala.15



Author

Joshua Chia Yeong Jia



References
1. Morais, J. V. (Ed.). (1956). Leaders of Malaya and who’s who. Kuala Lumpur: J. V. Morais, p. 295. (Call no.: RCLOS 920.0595 LEA); 850 deaths. (1999, September 30). The Straits Times, p. 44; Soh, T.K. (1966, August 7). My first task – By Mr. Rajah. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Justice A.P. Rajah retires after 14 years on the Bench. (1990, September 29). The Straits Times, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Morais, J. V. (1978). Who’s who in Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei. Kuala Lumpur: Who’s Who Publications, p. 118. (Call no.: RCLOS 920.0595 WWM); Lim, S. J. (1999, September 30). Former Supreme Court judge and envoy dies. The Straits Times, p. 28. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Morais, J. V. (1977]. Who’s who in Malaysia and guide to Singapore. Kuala Lumpur: J. V. Morais, p. 112. (Call no.: RCLOS 920.0595 WWM)
5. Coming home. (1953, July 7). The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Lee, K. Y. (1998). The Singapore story: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew. Singapore: Times Editions, p. 305. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 LEE-[HIS])
7. Justice Rajah re-appointed. (1987, October 11). The Straits Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Justice A.P. Rajah retires after 14 years on the Bench. (1990, September 29). The Straits Times, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Rajah made a high court judge. (1976, September 5). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Rajah made a high court judge. (1976, September 5). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Justice Rajah re-appointed. (1987, October 11). The Straits Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. National University of Singapore, Registrar’s Office. (2016).Honorary Degrees Recipients. Retrieved 2016, April 13, from National University of Singapore website: http://www.nus.edu.sg/registrar/adminpolicy/list-hg.html#US Doctor of Laws
13. Lim, S. J. (1999, September 30). Former Supreme Court judge and envoy dies. The Straits Times, p. 28. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Lim, S. J. (1999, September 30). Former Supreme Court judge and envoy dies. The Straits Times, p. 28. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Lim, S. J. (1999, September 30). Former Supreme Court judge and envoy dies. The Straits Times, p. 28. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Judges--Singapore
Law and government>>Jurisprudence
Law and government>>Public administration>>Parliament
Ambassadors--Singapore
Law and government>>Political process>>Leadership
Politicians
Personalities>>Biographies>>Political Leaders