Stanley Toft Stewart



Stanley Toft Stewart (b. 13 June 1910, Penang–d. 9 February 1992, Singapore) was a long-serving public official in Malaya and Singapore who achieved many “firsts”.1 At the peak of his career, Stewart was the head of Singapore’s civil service, and after serving as Singapore’s first high commissioner to Australia, returned as permanent secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.2

Education
Stewart was educated at St Xavier’s Institution in Penang. He excelled at sports, setting the state record in the 100-yard dash.3 He later enrolled in Raffles College in Singapore, and graduated with a first class diploma in arts in 1933.4

Teaching and early career
Stewart started his career as a teacher at Kuala Kangsar’s elite Malay College. His students included future sultans, ambassadors, civil servants, and Tun Razak, who still addressed Stewart as “Master” when he became Malaysia’s prime minister.5 

In 1934, Stewart earned the distinction of becoming one of the first two Asians recruited to the new Straits Settlements Civil Service.6 He worked as a probationer in the Treasury and Land Office in Penang, before becoming district officer for Butterworth in 1936.7 From 1939, he held the same post in Balik Pulau, Penang Island, and remained in office under a Japanese superior during the Japanese Occupation.8

After World War II, Stewart became the first local to be promoted to the Colonial Administration Service in 1946, and became the district officer in Balik Pulau and Butterworth.9 He was an official member of Penang’s legislative council and belonged to its war executive committee during the Emergency, although Butterworth stayed largely peaceful.10 In 1952, Stewart moved to Singapore to become deputy chairman of the Singapore Rural Board.11

Rise to the top of the civil service
After two years at the Singapore Rural Board, Stewart was named its first Asian chairman in 1954. He led the relief and evacuation efforts when Singapore was hit by serious flooding. In 1955, he was appointed deputy secretary of the Ministry of Local Government, Lands and Housing where he dealt with difficult issues such as policing, censorship, intelligence, detention and banishment.12 In 1957, he was appointed deputy chief secretary of Singapore. In 1958, he served as acting chief secretary under than Governor of Singapore William Goode, becoming the first local man to hold the colony’s second-highest office.13

In 1959, Stewart was appointed permanent secretary at the Ministry of Home Affairs,  and formed part of the government’s delegation to the United Kingdom’s financial talks in 1960. He became permanent secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office in 1962. In this capacity, he was also the head of the civil service and at the heart of national affairs.14 

Stewart was a member of the Joint Working Party that negotiated the merger between the Federation of Malaya and Singapore in 1961, and travelled to London for talks. He was also among the first to know about Malaysia’s break-up in 1965, and oversaw the printing of the government gazette announcing Singapore’s independence, keeping the printers incommunicado until the official announcement on 9 August 1965.15

Stewart continued to serve in public office on a temporary basis upon reaching the civil service mandatory retirement age, and was appointed as Singapore’s first high commissioner to Australia in 1966.16 

High commissioner to Australia
Upon the republic’s foundation, there was a delay in filling overseas missions, as the new state had wished to avoid making a poor impression by hastily posting ill-prepared ambassadors. Tested, reliable civil servants were sought to represent the country, and Stewart was appointed Singapore’s first high commissioner to Australia in 1966, an important regional power and one of the first countries to recognise Singapore’s independence.17 He formally took office in August 1966.18 

As high commissioner, Stewart travelled extensively, called upon state leaders, and focused on promoting trade and tourism.19 Stewart also organised weekly tennis matches at his residence and captained the annual diplomatic cricket tournament in Canberra.20

Later years and retirement
After leaving Australia in 1969 – with overseas work experience further enhancing his credentials – Stewart returned to the central government as permanent secretary at the.21

One of the changes Stewart instituted as permanent secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was the recruitment of the diplomatic corps. In 1966, the government engaged public officers from various government departments to make up its first tranche of diplomats. However, it was later decided that a distinct class of men and women for the diplomatic service was preferred. Stewart subsequently launched the Foreign Service Scheme that established a separate pool of professional career diplomats.22

At the end of 1972, the sports-loving Stewart left the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to join the National Stadium Corporation. He became chief executive, overseeing the completion and opening of the National Stadium, in 1973.23 His last appointment was as chief executive director of the Singapore Sports Council before retiring from public service in 1973.24

Stewart also served as a member of the Presidential Council for Minority Rights from 1970 to 1987.25

Honours and death
The length and distinction of Stewart’s public service was a source of pride for the Eurasian community. His achievements were recognised with awards such as the Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1958 by the British government,26 Singapore’s Pingat Jasa Gemilang (Meritorious Service Medal) in 1962,27 and the Bakti Kepada Malaysia (Service to Malaysia) Gold Medal in 1963.28 

Stewart died of heart problems on 9 February 1992 in Singapore.29

Family30
Wife: Therese Zelie de Souza (m. 1935).
Children: Seven daughters.



Author
Duncan Sutherland



References
1. F., & Cardoza, J. (1992). They made their mark: Prominent Eurasians in Singapore’s history. In M. Braga-Blake (Ed.), Singapore Eurasians: Memories and hopes. Singapore: Published for Eurasian Association, Singapore, by Times Editions, p. 88. (Call no.: RSING 305.80405957 SIN); A man of ‘firsts’. (1992, June 10). The Alumnus,10. Singapore: Alumni Affairs Office, National University of Singapore, p. 55. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.5957 A)
2. Koh, T. T. B., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board, p. 520. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS])
3. A man of ‘firsts’. (1992, June 10). The Alumnus, 10. Singapore: Alumni Affairs Office, National University of Singapore, p. 55. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.5957 A); Cardoza, F., & Cardoza, J. (1992). They made their mark: Prominent Eurasians in Singapore’s history. In M. Braga-Blake (Ed.), Singapore Eurasians: Memories and hopes. Singapore: Published for Eurasian Association, Singapore, by Times Editions, p. 88. (Call no.: RSING 305.80405957 SIN)
4. Koh, T. T. B., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board, p. 520. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS])
5. Chen, R. (2012, January–March). A public servant of distinction. The New Eurasian (p. 20). Retrieved from The Eurasian Association, Singapore website: http://www.eurasians.org.sg/media/neweurasian/new-eurasian-jan-march-2012/
6. A man of ‘firsts’. (1992, June 10). The Alumnus,10. Singapore: Alumni Affairs Office, National University of Singapore, p. 55. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.5957 A); Cardoza, F., & Cardoza, J. (1992). They made their mark: Prominent Eurasians in Singapore’s history. In M. Braga-Blake (Ed.), Singapore Eurasians: Memories and hopes. Singapore: Published for Eurasian Association, Singapore, by Times Editions, p. 88. (Call no.: RSING 305.80405957 SIN)
7. Former top civil servant Stewart dies at 81. (1992, February 12). The Straits Times, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Cardoza, F., & Cardoza, J. (1992). They made their mark: Prominent Eurasians in Singapore’s history. In M. Braga-Blake (Ed.), Singapore Eurasians: Memories and hopes. Singapore: Published for Eurasian Association, Singapore, by Times Editions, p. 88. (Call no.: RSING 305.80405957 SIN)
8. Chen, R. (2012, January–March). A public servant of distinction. The New Eurasian (p. 20). Retrieved from The Eurasian Association, Singapore website: http://www.eurasians.org.sg/media/neweurasian/new-eurasian-jan-march-2012/  
9. A man of ‘firsts’. (1992, June 10). The Alumnus, 10. Singapore: Alumni Affairs Office, National University of Singapore, p. 55. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.5957 A); Cardoza, F., & Cardoza, J. (1992). They made their mark: Prominent Eurasians in Singapore’s history. In M. Braga-Blake (Ed.), Singapore Eurasians: Memories and hopes. Singapore: Published for Eurasian Association, Singapore, by Times Editions, p. 88. (Call no.: RSING 305.80405957 SIN); Koh, T. T. B., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board, p. 520. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS])
10 Chen, R. (2012, January–March). A public servant of distinction. The New Eurasian (p. 20). Retrieved from The Eurasian Association, Singapore website: http://www.eurasians.org.sg/media/neweurasian/new-eurasian-jan-march-2012/
11. Koh, T. T. B., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board, p. 520. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS])
12. Koh, T. T. B., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board, p. 520. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS]); Cardoza, F., & Cardoza, J. (1992). They made their mark: Prominent Eurasians in Singapore’s history. In M. Braga-Blake (Ed.), Singapore Eurasians: Memories and hopes. Singapore: Published for Eurasian Association, Singapore, by Times Editions, p. 88. (Call no.: RSING 305.80405957 SIN); Chen, R. (January–March). A public servant of distinction. The New Eurasian (p. 20). Retrieved from The Eurasian Association, Singapore website: http://www.eurasians.org.sg/media/neweurasian/new-eurasian-jan-march-2012/
13. Liu, G. (2005). The Singapore foreign service: The first 40 years. Singapore: Editions Didier, p. 94. (Call no.: RSING 327.5957 LIU); Cardoza, F., & Cardoza, J. (1992). They made their mark: Prominent Eurasians in Singapore’s history. In M. Braga-Blake (Ed.), Singapore Eurasians: Memories and hopes. Singapore: Published for Eurasian Association, Singapore, by Times Editions, p. 88. (Call no.: RSING 305.80405957 SIN); Koh, T. T. B., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board, p. 520. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS]); Chen, R. (January–March). A public servant of distinction. The New Eurasian (p. 20). Retrieved from The Eurasian Association, Singapore website: http://www.eurasians.org.sg/media/neweurasian/new-eurasian-jan-march-2012/ 
14. Cardoza, F., & Cardoza, J. (1992). They made their mark: Prominent Eurasians in Singapore’s history. In M. Braga-Blake (Ed.), Singapore Eurasians: Memories and hopes. Singapore: Published for Eurasian Association, Singapore, by Times Editions, p. 89. (Call no.: RSING 305.80405957 SIN); Koh, T. T. B., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board, p. 520. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS]); Liu, G. (2005). The Singapore foreign service: The first 40 years. Singapore: Editions Didier, p. 95. (Call no.: RSING 327.5957 LIU)
15. Cardoza, F., & Cardoza, J. (1992). They made their mark: Prominent Eurasians in Singapore’s history. In M. Braga-Blake (Ed.), Singapore Eurasians: Memories and hopes. Singapore: Published for Eurasian Association, Singapore, by Times Editions, p. 89. (Call no.: RSING 305.80405957 SIN); Liu, G. (2005). The Singapore foreign service: The first 40 years. Singapore: Editions Didier, p. 95. (Call no.: RSING 327.5957 LIU)
16. Former top civil servant Stewart dies at 81. (1992, February 12). The Straits Times, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Liu, G. (2005). The Singapore foreign service: The first 40 years. Singapore: Editions Didier, p. 95. (Call no.: RSING 327.5957 LIU)
17. Chen, R. (January–March). A public servant of distinction. The New Eurasian (p. 20). Retrieved from The Eurasian Association, Singapore website: http://www.eurasians.org.sg/media/neweurasian/new-eurasian-jan-march-2012/
18. Koh, T. T. B., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board, p. 520. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS]); Cricket loving envoy. (1966, August 12). The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. New envoy hopes to expand trade with Aussies. (1966, September 29). The Straits Times, p. 1; S'pore's 'more trade' bid. (1966, August 13). The Straits Times, p.6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Cricket loving envoy. (1966, August 12). The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Stewart now top man in foreign office. (1969, December 12). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Lim, I. (1972, April 8). Career men for foreign missions. New Nation, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Liu, G. (2005). The Singapore foreign service: The first 40 years. Singapore: Editions Didier, p. 107. (Call no.: RSING 327.5957 LIU); (2015). Stanley Stewart (1910–1992). (2015). In Eurasian Association (Singapore), Our city, our home: Singapore Eurasians 1965–2015. Singapore: Eurasian Association, p. 83. (Call no.: RSING 305.80405957 OUR)
23. National Stadium Corporation. (1973). Annual report 1972. Singapore: Author, p. 1. (Call no.: RCLOS 354.595706858 NSCAR); A man of ‘firsts’. (1992, June 10). The Alumnus, 10. Singapore: Alumni Affairs Office, National University of Singapore, p. 55. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.5957 A); Liu, G. (2005). The Singapore foreign service: The first 40 years. Singapore: Editions Didier, p. 95. (Call no.: RSING 327.5957 LIU)
24. Koh, T. T. B., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board, p. 520. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS]); Former top civil servant Stewart dies at 81. (1992, February 12). The Straits Times, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Cardoza, F., & Cardoza, J. (1992). They made their mark: Prominent Eurasians in Singapore’s history. In M. Braga-Blake (Ed.), Singapore Eurasians: Memories and hopes. Singapore: Published for Eurasian Association, Singapore, by Times Editions, p. 89. (Call no.: RSING 305.80405957 SIN); Gan, D. (1970, May 3). Watchdog council keeps room for new govt. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Cardoza, F., & Cardoza, J. (1992). They made their mark: Prominent Eurasians in Singapore’s history. In M. Braga-Blake (Ed.), Singapore Eurasians: Memories and hopes. Singapore: Published for Eurasian Association, Singapore, by Times Editions, p. 89. (Call no.: RSING 305.80405957 SIN)
27. Koh, T. T. B., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board, p. 520. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS])
28. Cardoza, F., & Cardoza, J. (1992). They made their mark: Prominent Eurasians in Singapore’s history. In M. Braga-Blake (Ed.), Singapore Eurasians: Memories and hopes. Singapore: Published for Eurasian Association, Singapore, by Times Editions, p. 89. (Call no.: RSING 305.80405957 SIN)
29. Former top civil servant Stewart dies at 81. (1992, February 12). The Straits Times, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
30. Morais, J. V. (Ed.). (1959). Leaders of Malaya and who’s who. Kuala Lumpur: J.V. Morais, p. 364. (Call no.: RCLOS 920.0595 LEA); Chen, R. (2012, January–March). A public servant of distinction. The New Eurasian (p. 20). Retrieved from The Eurasian Association, Singapore website: http://www.eurasians.org.sg/media/neweurasian/new-eurasian-jan-march-2012/



The information in this article is valid as at 2010 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
Personalities
Singapore--Officials and employees--Biography
Law and government>>Civil procedure
Politics and Government
Personalities>>Biographies
Stewart, Stanley Toft, 1910-1992