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People’s Action Party is formed 21st Nov 1954

The People’s Action Party (PAP) was formed on 21 November 1954. The founding members of the party comprised political activists from the three main ethnic communities of Singapore and included personalities such as Lee Kuan Yew, Toh Chin Chye, Goh Keng Swee, C. V. Devan Nair, S. Rajaratnam, Abdul Samad Ismail and Fong Swee Suan.[1] They were mostly lawyers, journalists and trade unionists by profession.[2] The inaugural meeting of the PAP was held at the Victoria Memorial Hall, which was attended by some 1,500 people. Among them were union supporters and key political leaders of the day such as Tunku Abdul Rahman, leader of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), and Dato Sir Tan Cheng Lock, leader of the Malayan Chinese Association (MCA).[3]

During its formative years, the main objectives of the PAP as laid out in the party’s 1954 manifesto were to seek for the independence of Singapore through merger with the Federation of Malaya, to set up a democratic-socialist government, to create a multi-ethnic society, and to establish a fair and just society.[4] The party’s strong stand against corruption is reflected in its logo – the lightning symbol in red encircled by a blue ring against a white background. The red lightning represents action, the blue ring stands for the unity of all races, while the white background symbolises purity and integrity.[5] The party uniform of white-on-white also signifies the purity and the incorruptibility of its members.[6]

The first election that the PAP contested was the 1955 Legislative Assembly general election where it won three out of the four seats it contested. Lee Kuan Yew was one of the party’s victors after he captured the Tanjong Pagar ward with a 5,121-vote majority.[7] In the 1959 Legislative Assembly general election, the PAP won the mandate to form the government after it enjoyed a landslide victory by capturing 43 out of 51 seats in the Legislative Assembly. Lee, who was then the secretary-general of the PAP, subsequently became the first prime minister of Singapore.[8]

1.. Leong, C. (2004). PAP 50: Five decades of the People's Action Party (p. 12). Singapore: People’s Action Party. Call no.: RSING 324.25957 LEO.
2. Hussin Mutalib. (2003). Parties and politics: A study of opposition parties and the PAP in Singapore (pp. 44–45). Singapore: Eastern Universities Press. Call no.: RSING 324.25957 HUS.
3. Lee, K. Y. (1998). The Singapore story: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew (pp. 179–182). Singapore: Times Editions: Singapore Press Holdings. Call no.: RSING 959.57 LEE.
4. Fong, S. C. (1980). The PAP story: The pioneering years (pp. 14–24). Singapore: Times Periodicals. Call no.: RSING 329.95957 FON; Ng, I. (2010). The Singapore lion: A biography of S. Rajaratnam (pp. 190–-191). Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Call no.: RSING 320.59570092 NG; The party manifestoes. (1955, April 2). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. People’s Action Party. (2013). The Party Logo. Retrieved from People’s Action Party website: https://www.pap.org.sg/about-pap/party-milestones
6. Leong, 2004, p. 12.
7. The results. (1955, April 3). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. 2.45 am - PAP romps home with landslide victory. (1959, May 31). The Straits Times, p. 1; Lee is premier. (1959, June 2). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.


The information in this article is valid as at 2014 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.

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