Toh Chin Chye


Toh Chin Chye (Dr) (b. 10 December 1921, Batu Gajah, Perak–3 February 2012, Singapore) was the founding chairman of the People’s Action Party (PAP) and served as Singapore’s deputy prime minister from 1959 to 1968. Besides his science and technology ministerial portfolio (1968–75), Toh was also the chairman of Singapore Polytechnic and vice-chancellor of the University of Singapore.

Early life and education
Toh received his early education in Malaya – first at St George’s School in Taiping, and then Anglo-Chinese School in Ipoh.  In 1946 he graduated with a first-class diploma in Science from Raffles College in Singapore. He enrolled at the National Institute for Medical Research, London, in 1949 for his doctorate in physiology and completed it in 1953.1 As a student in London, Toh became the chairman of the Malayan Forum, a student body in London that discussed Malayan current events and political affairs.He returned to Singapore in 1953 and joined the University of Malaya as a lecturer.3


Career in politics and public service
Toh, together with 13 others including Lee Kuan Yew, Goh Keng Swee and S. Rajaratnam, formed the PAP in 1954 with him as the party’s founding chairman.4 In the 1959 Legislative Assembly general election, he was elected as the assemblyman for the Rochore (now Rochor) constituency.5 When Singapore attained self-government in 1959, Toh led a committee to design the state crest, state anthem and state flag, which were unveiled on 3 December that year at City Hall.6


Toh served as the deputy prime minister from 1959 until 1968 when he stepped down in order to concentrate on his new appointment as vice-chancellor of the University of Singapore (now National University of Singapore). He remained in the cabinet with a new portfolio as the minister for science and technology from 1968 until 1975.7 In addition to his ministerial portfolio, Toh was also the chairman of Singapore Polytechnic from 1959 to 1975.8

Toh wanted to gear university education towards the needs of national development. As the vice-chancellor from 1968 to 1975, he was instrumental in establishing the faculties of engineering and architecture and he introduced new courses in business subjects to support Singapore’s industrialisation efforts taking place at the time.9 Toh also prompted the move of the university from Bukit Timah to Kent Ridge and initiated the setting up of the National University Hospital.10

On 2 June 1975, Toh was appointed as the minister for health.11 He stepped down from this post in 1981 and became a backbencher in Parliament.12 As a backbencher, he was noted for his outspoken views on various government policies such as the Medisave scheme and the age limit on withdrawals from the Central Provident Fund.13

Toh retired from politics in 1988.14 As a tribute to his 29 years of service as the member of parliament for Rochore, the Rochore Citizens’ Consultative Committee set up the Toh Chin Chye Benevolent Fund for the elderly.15 In 2001, the National University of Singapore launched the Toh Chin Chye Professorship in Molecular Biology to honour him.16

Timeline
1948: Demonstrator in philosophy, Raffles College
1947–1949: Demonstrator in Chemistry, Raffles College
1953: Lecturer, Department of Physiology, University of Malaya, Singapore.
1953: Founding secretary, University of Malaya Society
1954–1981: Co-founder and Chairman, PAP17
1958–1964: Reader in physiology, University of Singapore18
1959–1968: Deputy prime minister
1959–1975: Chairman, board of governors, Singapore Polytechnic
1959–1988: PAP legislative assemblyman and later member of parliament for Rochore.
1964: Research associate, University of Singapore
1968–1975: Minister for Science and Technology19
16 Apr 1968–14 Jun 1975: Vice-chancellor, University of Singapore20
1970–1975: Chairman, board of governors, Regional Institute for Higher Education and Development21
1973–1975: Chairman, Applied Research Corporation22
2 Jun 1975–5 Jan 1981: Minister for health23
1990: Adviser to Steamers Maritime Holdings24

Awards
1976: Honorary doctor of letters, University of Singapore.25
1990: Order of Nila Utama (First Class).26

Family27
Father: Toh Kim Poh

Mother: Tah Chuan Bee
Wife: Florence Yeap Sui Phek
Daughter: Toh Ai Chu



Author

Jenny Tien



References
1. Lam, P. E., & Tan, K. Y. L. (1999). Lee’s lieutenants: Singapore’s old guards. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, p. 3. (Call no.: RSING 320.95957 LEE)
2. Chew, M. (1996). Leaders of Singapore. Singapore: Resource Press, pp. 84–85. (Call no.: RSING920.059597 CHE)
3. Lam, P. E., & Tan, K. Y. L. (1999). Lee’s lieutenants: Singapore’s old guards. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, p. 4. (Call no.: RSING 320.95957 LEE)
4. Yap, S., Lim, R., & Leong, W. K. (2009). Men in white: The untold story of Singapore’s ruling political party. Singapore: Singapore Press Holdings, pp. 54, 57. (Call no.: RSING 324.25957 YAP)
5. Singapore Elections Department. (2015, November 2). 1959 parliamentary election results. Retrieved from Elections Department website: http://www.eld.gov.sg/elections_past_parliamentary1959.html
6. All-govt. team designing state crest. (1959, July 12). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Lee’s cabinet: This is it. (1959, June 6). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Sam. J. (1968, March 10). Toh to head university. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Dr. Toh heads polytechnic new board. (1959, August 5). The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Singapore Polytechnic. (2015). SP timeline. Retrieved from Singapore Polytechnic website: http://www.sp.edu.sg/wps/portal/vp-spws/spws.org.abtsp.story.sptimeline
9. University of Singapore. (1969). Annual report of the University of Singapore 1968-9. Singapore: The University, pp. 1–2. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.5957 US); University of Singapore ninth annual report 1969–70. Singapore: The University, p. 1. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.5957 US); Lee, E., & Tan, T. Y. (1996). Beyond degrees: The making of the National University of Singapore. Singapore: Singapore University Press, p. 136. (Call no.: RSING 378.5957 LEE)
10. University of Singapore ninth annual report 1969–70. Singapore: The University, p. 1. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.5957 US); Lee, E., & Tan, T. Y. (1996). Beyond degrees: The making of the National University of Singapore. Singapore: Singapore University Press, pp. 143–144. (Call no.: RSING 378.5957 LEE); Ow, W. M. (1970, July 24). ‘City of learning’ at Kent Ridge. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Byramji, N. (1975, August 28). Second look at Kent Ridge varsity. The Straits Times, p. 28. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Fong, L. (1975, June 3). Cabinet surprise. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Fong, L. (1981, January 6). Toh not in new cabinet. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Former health minister attacks scheme. (1983, August 31). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; ‘A breach of the CPF’s fundamental principle’. (1984, June 30). The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Lam, P. E., & Tan, K. Y. L. (1999). Lee’s lieutenants: Singapore’s old guards. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, p. 15. (Call no.: RSING 320.95957 LEE)
15. Toh Chin Chye fund to get boost from book. (1989, July 31). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Professorship in honour of Toh Chin Chye. (2001, October 26). The Straits Times, p. H13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Lam, P. E., & Tan, K. Y. L. (1999). Lee’s lieutenants: Singapore’s old guards. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, p. 4. (Call no.: RSING 320.95957 LEE)
18. Lam, P. E., & Tan, K. Y. L. (1999). Lee’s lieutenants: Singapore’s old guards. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, pp. 3–4, 135. (Call no.: RSING 320.95957 LEE)
19. Ministry of Culture. (1977). Biographical notes of the president, prime minister and ministers. Singapore: The Ministry, [n.p.]. (Call no.: RCLOS 328.59570922 BIO)
20. University of Singapore. (1969). Annual report of the University of Singapore 1968–9. Singapore: The University, p. 1. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.5957 US); University of Singapore fourteenth annual report, 1974–5. Singapore: The University, p. 1. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.5957 US)
21. Ministry of Culture. (1977). Biographical notes of the president, prime minister and ministers. Singapore: The Ministry, [n.p.]. (Call no.: RCLOS 328.59570922 BIO)
22. Low, K. T. (Ed.). (2006). Who’s who in Singapore 2006. Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., p. 524. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO)
23. Fong, L. (1975, June 3). Cabinet surprise. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Fong, L. (1981, January 6). Toh not in new cabinet. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. Dr Toh appointed adviser to Steamers. (1990, May 5). The Straits Times, p. 43. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Ministry of Culture. (1977). Biographical notes of the President, Prime Minister and Ministers. Singapore: The Ministry. (Call no.: RCLOS 328.59570922 BIO)
26. Old guards in National Day honours list. (1990, August 9). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
27. Low, K. T. (Ed.). (2006). Who’s who in Singapore 2006. Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., p. 523. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO); Li, X. (2012, February 4). Toh Chin Chye: 1921–2012 PAP founding chairman dies. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva.



Further resources
Chok Tong’s handsome tribute to 14 veterans. (1988, August 22). The Straits Times, Singapore, p. 17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Kudos to man of ideas. (1990, August 9). The Straits Times, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Pang, C. L. (2012, February 5). Toh Chin Chye 1921–2012: Life and times. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva.

Remembering Dr Toh Chin Chye. (2012, February 3). Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved from Factiva.

Singapore chronicles: A special commemorative history of Singapore. (1995). Hong Kong: Illustrated Magazine, pp. 42–47.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN)

21 who helped to shape Singapore. (1990, November 10). The Straits Times, p. 31. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2012 and correct as far as we can 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
Toh, Chin Chye, 1921-
Pioneers--Singapore--Biography
Law and government>>Public administration>>Cabinet (Government Councils)
Politicians--Singapore--Biography
Politicians
Personalities>>Biographies>>Political Leaders

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