Lim Yew Hock


Haji Omar Lim Yew Hock (b. 15 October 1914, Singapore–d. 30 November 1984, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia1) was the chief minister of Singapore from 1956 to 1959, succeeding David Marshall.2 Lim was noted for his work as a trade unionist3 before entering politics under the banner of the Singapore Progressive Party in 19484 and later the Labour Party.5 As chief minister, Lim negotiated with the British for Singapore’s self-government6 and was noted for his tough stance against pro-communist elements and anticolonial activists. He died a Malaysian Muslim in his home in Jeddah.7

Early life
Lim studied at Raffles Institution under a four-year scholarship, graduating in 1931. He had planned to further his studies in England, but this was interrupted by his father’s sudden demise. Lim started work as a clerk and, through self-study, moved on to become a confidential stenographer with Cold Storage until 1947.8


Career
Lim became involved in public affairs after World War II. In 1947, he took on the position of secretary-general of the Singapore Clerical and Administrative Workers’ Union,9 becoming its president in 1949.10 In March 1948, he was appointed to represent trade unions as an unofficial member of the Legislative Council,11 thus establishing him at the forefront of the labour movement in Singapore. He went on to become a founding member of the Singapore Trades Union Congress (1951),12 a founding member of the Labour Front (1954)13 and subsequently the president of the Singapore Labour Party.14

Under Marshall’s government in 1955, Lim was appointed the minister for labour and welfare.15 In June 1956, however, Marshall resigned from the post of chief minister, which led to Lim succeeding him as Singapore’s second chief minister.16 During his tenure as chief minister, Lim was instrumental in negotiating with Britain the final arrangements for internal self-government in Singapore.17 His term also saw the purging of pro-communist elements and anticolonial activists,18 some of whom were members of the People’s Action Party (PAP) such as Chia Ek Tian.19 Lim’s governance was noted for his strong hand in quelling the Chinese middle schools’ riots in October 1956, but this resulted in alienating the Chinese-speaking electorate and his eventual political defeat to the PAP.20

In the 1959 general election, his party, Singapore People’s Alliance, won merely four seats against the PAP’s 43.21 By 1963, when his party failed to win any seats during that year’s election,22 Lim resigned from his position as the party chairman.23 In 1964, he was appointed as Malaysia’s high commissioner to Australia and New Zealand,24 a post he served even after the separation of Singapore from Malaysia.25 Lim subsequently became a Malaysian citizen and worked for the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs until he retired to Malacca in 1968.26

In his later years Lim converted to Islam, taking the name Haji Omar Lim Yew Hock. At the time of his death, he was living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where he worked as a special assistant to the president of the World Islamic Development Bank. Lim died at the age of 70 and was buried at Mecca.27

Family
Lim had one son and three daughters with his first wife, Chia Kim Neo, whom he married in 1937. He remarried Puan Hajjah Hasnah Abdullah in his later years and had two children with her.28



Author

Michael Mukunthan



References
1. Ex-Chief Minister Lim Yew Hock dies in Jeddah. (1984, December 1). The Business Times, p. 12; From clerk to chief minister. (1956, June 8). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. From clerk to chief minister. (1956, June 8). The Straits Times, p. 8; Out: Lim’s govt. – in 53 words. (1959, June 2). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. From clerk to chief minister. (1956, June 8). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Progressives’ election hopes. (1948, August 30). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Progressive quits, joins Labour. (1949, October 12). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Our three big aims. (1958, May 9). The Straits Times, p. 1; Now nothing stops us making ourselves a Malayan state. (1958, November 28). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. John, A. (1984, December 1). Lim Yew Hock dies in Jeddah. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. From clerk to chief minister. (1956, June 8). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Lim, Y. H. (1986). Reflections. Kuala Lumpur: Pustaka Antara, p. 11. (Call no.: RSING 320.9595050924 LIM)
10. New clerical union chief. (1949, September 29). The Singapore Free Press, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Four unofficials nominated. (1948, March 25). The Singapore Free Press, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. S’pore unions to form a T.U.C. (1951, January 8). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. New Labour Front formed in colony. (1954, August 22). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Mr. Lim Yew Hock chosen president. (1950, June 12). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Coalition-minus Malay Union. (1955, April 6). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. From clerk to chief minister. (1956, June 8). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Our three big aims. (1958, May 9). The Straits Times, p. 1; Now nothing stops us making ourselves a Malayan state. (1958, November 28). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Reuten, L. (1984, December 1). Man who thumped the Reds. The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Reds must be foiled in bid to capture the ‘rich prize’ of self-government, says Lim. (1958, October 9). The Straits Times, p. 2; Police hold PAP man. (1956, October 3). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Reuten, L. (984, December 1). Man who thumped the Reds. The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. The results: All you. (1959, May 31). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. This is the way the voting went. (1963, September 22). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. Tun Lim quits as SPA chief. (1963, October 8). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. Farewell by Lim. (1964, January 12). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Tun Lim still very ill: Jalal. (1966, June 25). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Mathews, P. (1968, November 7). Tun Lim: I have quit foreign ministry. The Straits Times, p. 11; Ex-Chief Minister Lim Yew Hock dies in Jeddah. (1984, December 1). The Business Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
27. Lim, Y. H. (1986). Reflections. Kuala Lumpur: Pustaka Antara, pp. 1, 4, 12. (Call no.: RSING 320.9595050924 LIM); Ex-Chief Minister Lim Yew Hock dies in Jeddah. (1984, December 1). The Business Times, p. 12; John, A. (1984, December 1). Lim Yew Hock dies in Jeddah. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
28. Marriage. (1937, January 12). Malaya Tribune, p. 9; Ex-chief minister Lim Yew Hock dies in Jeddah. (1984, December 1). The Business Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Lim, Y. H. (1986). Reflections. Kuala Lumpur: Pustaka Antara, pp. 1, 4, 123. (Call no.: RSING 320.9595050924 LIM)



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
Labor union members--Singapore--Biography
Lim, Yew Hock, 1914-1984
Law and government>>Public administration>>Cabinet (Government Councils)
Politicians--Singapore--Biography
Politicians
Personalities>>Biographies>>Political Leaders