Abdul Rahim Ishak


Abdul Rahim Ishak (b. 25 July 1925, Singapore–d. 18 January 2001, Singapore) was a former envoy and senior minister of state for foreign affairs. The youngest brother of Singapore’s first head of state and later president, Yusof Ishak, Rahim came from a large family of nine siblings and was the only one to be born in Singapore.1

Early life
Rahim was educated at Sekolah Melayu Kota Raja, Raffles Institution, King Edward VII School (Taiping, Perak)2 and Raffles College. Growing up, he developed a deep interest in the Indonesian independence movement and socialism. Just before World War II broke out, Rahim 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.3

Rahim began his career as a reporter in 1947 with Utusan Melayu.4 Utusan Melayu was a Malay-language newspaper that was then based in Singapore and managed by his brother Yusof. Rahim worked as a teacher at his alma mater King Edward VII School after he completed his training at the Teachers’ Training College in 1950.5 Following his teaching career, Rahim rejoined Utusan Melayu in 1955 as a full-fledged writer based in Kuala Lumpur. He was the paper’s associate editor until 1959.6

Political career
In 1959, Rahim returned to Singapore and entered politics, his first appointment was as a political secretary for the Ministry of Culture. In 1963, he contested in the general election as a People’s Action Party (PAP) candidate in Siglap and was successfully elected as a legislative assemblyman. After independence in 1965, he remained the member of parliament for Siglap until 1984.7 A firm believer in multiracialism, Rahim stood with the PAP during the turbulent years against the pro-communists and communalists.8 During Rahim’s five consecutive terms as the 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, Rahim was appointed as the ambassador to Indonesia (1974–77). In 1981, he became the high commissioner to New Zealand.9

Retirement and death
Rahim retired from public life in 1987 and passed away on 18 January 2001 after a long illness. He was survived by his wife, six children and eight grandchildren. The journalist and writer Zuraidah Ibrahim is his daughter.10

Political appointments11
1959:
Political secretary, Ministry of Culture

1963–1984: Member of parliament for Siglap
Sep 1963–Sep 1965: Parliamentary secretary, Ministry of Education
Sep 1965–May 1968: Minister of state, Ministry of Education12
May 1968–Sep 1972: Minister of state, Ministry of Foreign Affairs13
Sep 1972–April 1981: Senior minister of state, Ministry of Foreign Affairs14
Dec 1974–Jun 1977: Ambassador to Republic of Indonesia15
Jul 1981–1987: High commissioner to New Zealand16

Other appointments17
1960–1965:
Chairman, Film Censor’s Appeal Committee 

1963–1968: Vice-chairman, Adult Education Board
1966–1975: President, Singapore Amateur Athletic Association 

Awards
1990: Distinguished Service Order18
1999: Anugerah Jasawan Agung Minang, Persatuan Minangkabau Singapura19



Authors

Joshua Chia Yeong Jia & Nor Afidah Abd Rahman



References
1. 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. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, pp. 127–129. (Call no.: RSING 320.95957 LEE); Koh, T, et al. (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet; National Heritage Board, p. 442. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS])
2. Farid Hamzah & Suhana A. Samat. (2001, January 19). Lembut pertuturan tetapi teguh pendirian. Berita Harian, pp. 6–7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. 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. St. Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, pp. 127–129. (Call no.: RSING 320.95957 LEE)
4. Koh, T, et al. (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet; National Heritage Board, p. 442. (Call no. : RSING 959.57003 SIN - [HIS]); Ministry of Culture. (1977). Biographical notes of the president, prime minister and ministers. Singapore: Publicity Division, Ministry of Culture. (Call no.: RCLOS 328.59570922 BIO)
5. Koh, T, et al. (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet; National Heritage Board, p. 442. (Call no. : RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS]); Ministry of Culture. (1977). Biographical notes of the president, prime minister and ministers. Singapore: Publicity Division, Ministry of Culture. (Call no.: RCLOS 328.59570922 BIO)
6. Koh, T, et al. (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet; National Heritage Board, p. 442. (Call no. : RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS]); Liu, G. (2005). The Singapore foreign service: The first 40 years. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet, p. 150. (Call no.: RSING q327.5957 LIU)
7. Seven new PAP candidates get walkovers: Four-page nomination day special. (1984, December 13). The Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. 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. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, pp. 127–129. (Call no.: RSING 320.95957 LEE)
9. Ahmad Osman. (2001, January 20). Final farewell for ex-minister of state. The Straits Times, p. 4; Farid Hamzah. (2001, January 19). Rahim Ishak meninggal dunia. Berita Harian, p. 1; Rahim masih ingin curah bakti. (1999, March 15). Berita Harian, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Liu, G. (2005). The Singapore foreign service: The first 40 years. Singapore: Editions Didier Milet, p. 150. (Call no.: RSING q327.5957 LIU)
10. Ahmad Osman. (2001, January 20). Final farewell for ex-minister of state. The Straits Times, p. 4; Farid Hamzah. (2001, January 19). Rahim Ishak meninggal dunia. Berita Harian, p. 1; Rahim masih ingin curah bakti. (1999, March 15). Berita Harian, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Ministry of Culture. (1977). Biographical notes of the president, prime minister and ministers. Singapore: Publicity Division, Ministry of Culture. (Call no.: RCLOS 328.59570922 BIO); Who’s who in Malaysia & Singapore 1983–4 (Vol. 2). (1983). Petaling Jaya, Selangor: Who’s Who Publications, p. 171. (Call no.: RSING 920.0595 WWM)
12. Singapore. (1965, October 15). Government gazette [Microfilm: NL 4987] (G.N. 2392). Singapore: [s.n.], p. 2843.
13. Singapore. (1968, May 10). Government gazette(G.N. 1389). Singapore: [s.n.], p. 1485. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 SGG).
14. Singapore. (1972, September 22). Government gazette. (G.N.3084). Singapore: [s.n.], p. 3674. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 SGG); Singapore. (1975). Singapore government directory. Singapore: Ministry of Culture, pp. 21, 25. (Call no.: RCLOS 354.5957001 SIN)
15. Singapore. (1975). Singapore government directory. Singapore: Ministry of Culture, pp. 21, 25. (Call no.: RCLOS 354.5957001 SIN); Rahim is new envoy to Jakarta. (1974, November 6). The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Singapore. (1981, April 10). Government gazette (G.N. 1445). Singapore: Singapore National Printers, p. 1860. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 SGG); Rahim to leave for New Zealand today. (1981, July 11). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Ministry of Culture. (1977). Biographical notes of the president, prime minister and ministers. Singapore: Publicity Division, Ministry of Culture. (Call no.: RCLOS 328.59570922 BIO); Who’s who in Malaysia & Singapore 1983–4 (Vol. 2). (1983). Petaling Jaya, Selangor: Who's Who Publications, p. 171. (Call no.: RSING 920.0595 WWM)
18. Koh, T, et al. (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet; National Heritage Board, p. 442. (Call no. : RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS]); National Day honours list. (1990, August 9). The Straits Times, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Rahim masih ingin curah bakti. (1999, March 15). Berita Harian, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



Further resources

Leow, J. (2001, January 19). He believed in equality for all races. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG

Noor A. Rahman. (2000, December 5). Mantan Menteri Negara Kanan Rahim Ishak tenat di hospital. Berita Harian, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

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




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

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