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1988 Parliamentary General Election 3rd Sep 1988

The 1988 parliamentary general election was held on 3 September with nomination day on 24 August. The polling date was set after parliament was dissolved on 17 August.[1] This general election marked the first time that the Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs) system was implemented. GRCs are electoral divisions in which members are voted into parliament as a group and at least one member has to belong to a minority racial group. There were 13 GRCs in this election, which made up 39 out of the 81 parliamentary seats available. The remaining seats were Single-Member Constituencies (SMCs).[2] Besides the GRCs, this election also saw the appointment of the first Non-Constituency Members of Parliament (NCMPs). They are opposition candidates who managed to receive the highest votes among those who lost and obtained at least 15 percent of the votes cast.[3]

The ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) candidates were returned unopposed on nomination day in two SMCs and three GRCs, providing the party with a total of 11 seats. The remaining 70 seats were contested by 141 candidates from eight political parties and four independents. The contesting parties for the seats were: PAP (70 candidates), Workers’ Party (32 candidates), Singapore Democratic Party (18 candidates), National Solidarity Party (8 candidates), United People’s Front (5 candidates), Singapore Malay National Organisation (PKMS) (4 candidates), Singapore Justice Party (3 candidates) and Angkatan Islam Singapura (1 candidate).[4]

The general election resulted in another landslide victory for the PAP with its win of 80 seats and 63.1 percent of votes garnered . Singapore Democratic Party’s Chiam See Tong retained his Potong Pasir seat.[5] Francis Seow and Lee Siew Choh of the Workers’ Party were appointed as NCMPs.[6] This election was the last for Lee Kuan Yew as the prime minister of Singapore as he subsequently handed over the reins of government to Goh Chok Tong in November 1990.[7]

1. Fong, L. (1988, August 18). Elections on Sept 3. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. 13 GRCs for next general election. (1988, June 15). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Accept non-constituency seats, opposition urged. (1988, August 14). The Straits Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Fong, L. (1988, August 25). PAP challenged in 70 wards. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Fong, L. (1988, September 4). PAP landslide. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Francis Seow and Siew Choh made non-constituency MPs. (1988, September 18). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Chok Tong: Why I decided PM should stay. (1988, September 4). The Straits Times, p. 3; Teo, A. (1990, November 27). PM Lee steps aside after 31 years in office. The Business Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.


The information in this article is valid as at 2013 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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