Abdul Rahim Ishak


Abdul Rahim Ishak (b. 25 July 1925, Singapore - d. 18 January 2001, Singapore), youngest brother of Singapore's first head of state and later President Yusof Ishak, was former envoy and Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. He came from a large family of nine siblings and was the only one to be born in Singapore.

Early Life
For his education, Rahim went to Sekolah Melayu Kota Raja, Raffles Institution, King Edward VII School (Taiping, Perak), and Raffles College. Growing up, he developed a deep interest in the Indonesian independence movement and socialism. Just before World War II broke out, he and his two other siblings were rushed back to Perak, his father's hometown, to escape the Japanese invasion.  There he resumed and completed his formal secondary education.

Rahim became a reporter with Utusan Melayu between 1949 and 1953 Utusan Melayu was a Malay-language newspaper, which was then based in Singapore and managed by his brother Yusof Ishak.  In 1953, Rahim worked as a teacher but rejoined Utusan Melayu in 1955 as a full-fledge writer and was based in Kuala Lumpur.  He was the paper's associate editor until 1959. 

In 1959, Rahim returned to Singapore and entered politics, his first appointment was Political Secretary, Ministry of Culture.  In 1963, he contested in the general election as a People's Action Party (PAP) candidate in Siglap and won. He remained the Member of Parliament for Siglap until the 1984 general election.  A firm believer in multiracialism, Rahim stood with the PAP during the turbulent years against the communists and communalists.  During Rahim's five consecutive terms as Member of Parliament for Siglap, he served in the Education and Foreign Affairs ministries. While still serving as Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, he was also appointed as Ambassador to Indonesia from 1974 to 1977.  In 1981, he was appointed as the High Commissioner to New Zealand.  He retired from public life in 1987. 

Political Appointments
: Political Secretary (Culture)
1963 - 1984 : Member of Parliament for Siglap
September 1963 - September 1965 : Parliamentary Secretary (Education)
September 1965 - May 1968 : Minister of State (Education)
May 1968 - September 1972 : Minister of State (Foreign Affairs)
September 1972 - April 1981 : Senior Minister of State (Foreign Affairs)
December 1974 - June 1977 : Ambassador to Republic of Indonesia
July 1981 - 1987 : High Commissioner to New Zealand

Other Appointments
1960 - 1965
: Chairman of Film Censor's Appeal Committee 
1963 - 1968 : Vice-chairman, Adult Education Board
1966 - 1975 : President of Singapore Amateur Athletic Association 

1990 : Distinguished Service Order
1999 : Anugerah Jasawan Agung Minang, Persatuan Minangkabau Singapura

Rahim passed away on 18 January 2001 after a long illness, He was survived by his wife, six children and six grandchildren.  His daughter, Lily Zubaidah Rahim,  is author of the book The Singapore Dilemma: Political and Educational Marginality of the Malay Community

Speeches (Selection)
Developing countries must evince political will. 
In Speeches: A bi-monthly selection of ministerial speeches, 3 (10), 99-102.

Businessmen as social catalysts
In Speeches: A bi-monthly selection of ministerial speeches, 3 (11), 60-63.

Muslims: Challenge of the 80's
In Speeches: A bi-monthly selection of ministerial speeches, 3 (11), 54-59.

Bringing up children properly.
In Speeches: A bi-monthly selection of ministerial speeches4 (6), 87-90.

ASEAN works closely in cooperation.
In Speeches: A bi-monthly selection of ministerial speeches, 4(1), 88-92.

ASEAN: Speech by Senior Minister of State (Foreign Affairs) Encik A. Rahim Ishak, October 8, 1977.
In Malaya law review, 19 (2), 403.


Joshua Chia Yeong Jia & Nor-Afidah Abd Rahman

Liu, G. (2005). The Singapore foreign service: The first 40 years (p. 150). Singapore: Editions Didier Milet, 2005.
(Call no.: RSING q327.5957 LIU)

Singapore. (1975). Singapore Government Directory (p. 21, 25).  Singapore: Ministry of Culture.
(Call no.: RCLOS 354.5957001 SIN)

Singapore: The encyclopedia
(p. 442). (2006). Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board
(Call no. : RSING 959.57003 SIN - [HIS])

Who's who in Malaysia & Singapore 1983-4 (Vol. 2, p. 171). (1983).  [Petaling Jaya, Selangor]: Who's Who Publications.
(Call no.: RSING 920.0595 WWM)

Zuraidah Ibrahim. (1999). The Malay mobilisers: Ahmad Ibrahim, Othman Wok, Yaacob Mohamed & Rahim Ishak. In P. E. Lam & K. Y. L. Tan (Eds.), Lee's lieutenants: Singapore's old guard (pp. 127-129). St. Leonards, Australia: Allen & Unwin.
(Call no.: RSING 320.95957 LEE)

Ahmad Osman. (2001, January 20).  Final farewell for ex-Minister of StateThe Straits Times.  Retrieved on February 22, 2011, from NewspaperSG.

Farid Hamzah. (2001, January 19). Rahim Ishak meninggal dunia [Microfilm: NL 22832]. Berita Harian, p. 1.

Farid Hamzah & Suhana A. Samat. (2001, January 19). Lembut pertuturan tetapi teguh pendirian [Microfilm: NL 22832]. Berita Harian, pp. 6-7.

Farid Hamzah. (2001, January 20). Jenazah Rahim Ishak selamat dikebumi [Microfilm: NL 22832]. Berita Harian, p. 2.

Former senior minister of state Rahim Ishak dies. (2001, January 18).  Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved September 9, 2006, from Factiva database.

Rahim masih ingin curah bakti [Microfilm: NL 21620]. (1999, March 15). Berita Harian, p. 3.

Rahim is new envoy to Jakarta [Microfilm: NL 8095].  . (1974, November 6). The Straits Times, p. 7. 

Rahim to leave for New Zealand today [Microfilm: NL 11181]. . (1981, July 11). The Straits Times, p.1 

Seven new PAP candidates get walkovers: Four-page nomination day special [Microfilm: NL 14862]. (1984, December 13). The Straits Times, p. 16.

Tributes pour in from leaders. (2001, January 19).  The Straits Times. Retrieved on February 22, 2011, from NewspaperSG.

Government Gazette
(GN no. 2649, p. 2620). (1963, October 26). Singapore: [s.n.].
(Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 SGG).

Government Gazette
(GN no. 2392, p. 2843). (1965, October 15). Singapore: [s.n.].
(Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 SGG)

Government Gazette
(GN no. 1389, p. 1485). (1968, May 10). Singapore: [s.n.].
(Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 SGG).

Government Gazette
(GN no. 3084, p. 3674). (1972, September 22). Singapore: [s.n.].
(Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 SGG).

Government Gazette
(GN no. 365, p. 498). (1977, February 11). Singapore: Singapore National Printers.
(Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 SGG).

Government Gazette
(GN no. 1445, p. 1860). (1981, April 10). Singapore: Singapore National Printers.
(Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 SGG).

Singapore. Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (1981, July 10). High Commissioner to New Zealand. Retrieved July 30, 2008, from http://stars.nhb.gov.sg/stars/public/.

Further Readings

Speeches: A bi-monthly selection of ministerial speeches, 3-4. (1980). Singapore: Publicity Division, Ministry of Culture.
(Call no.: RSING 354.5957035 S)

ASEAN: Speech by Senior Minister of State (Foreign Affairs) Encik A. Rahim Ishak, October 8, 1977. (1977, December). Malaya law review, 19 (2), 403. Singapore: Faculty of Law, University of Singapore.
(Call no.: RCLOS 354.05 UNI)

Mantan Menteri Negara Kanan Rahim Ishak tenat di hospital [Microfilm: NL 22007). (2000, December 5).  Berita Harian.

The information in this article is valid as at 2008 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. 

Law and government>>Political process>>Leadership
Abdul Rahim Ishak, 1925-2001
Personalities>>Biographies>>Political Leaders

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