David Marshall (Singaporean politician)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other people named David Marshall, see David Marshall (disambiguation).
David Saul Marshall
DMarshall.jpg
1st Chief Minister of Singapore
In office
6 April 1955 – 7 June 1956
Governor Sir John Fearns Nicoll (1952–55)
Sir William Goode (1955)
Sir Robert Brown Black (1955–57)
Preceded by Newly Created
Succeeded by Lim Yew Hock
Personal details
Born 12 March 1908
Singapore
Died 12 December 1995(1995-12-12) (aged 87)
Singapore
Nationality Singaporean
Political party Labour Front (1954–1957)
Workers' Party of Singapore (1957–1963)
Independent (1963–1995)
Alma mater University of London
Profession Politician and diplomat
Religion Judaism
David Marshall, wearing his political uniform of white bush-jacket and grey trousers, with a hammer

David Saul Marshall (12 March 1908 – 12 December 1995) was a politician and lawyer from Singapore who served as Singapore's first Chief Minister from 1955 to 1956. He was the founder of Workers' Party of Singapore, one of the two dominant parties in Singapore. He served as president of the party, which was the highest post before the creation of secretary-general. He was also instrumental in the negotiations leading up to the independence of Malaya.

Biography[edit]

Born into an Orthodox Jewish family descended from Indian Baghdadi Jews in Singapore, David Marshall was educated at Saint Joseph's Institution, Saint Andrew's School and then Raffles Institution. He became interested in politics and the independence movement at an early age. After graduating from the University of London, he was called to the Bar at the Middle Temple in 1937. He later became the most successful criminal lawyer in Singapore, with a reputation "Marshall never loses". Known for his sharp eloquence and imposing stances, he claimed that he had secured 99 acquittals out of 100 cases he defended for murder during Singapore's period of using trial by jury. When Singapore's leader (and Marshall's political opponent) Lee Kuan Yew abolished the jury system in 1969, he quoted Marshall's reputation to illustrate its "inadequacy". He was the brother of Joseph Saul Marshall who died under odd circumstances in Sydney in 1945, potentially connected to the Taman Shud Case. David Marshall died in 1995 of lung cancer.

Political career[edit]

A colourful and stirring orator, Marshall led the left-wing Labour Front to a narrow victory in Singapore's first Legislative Assembly elections in April 1955. He formed a minority government and become Chief Minister. He presided over a shaky government, receiving little co-operation from either the colonial authorities or the other local parties. In May 1955, the Hock Lee Bus Riots broke out, killing 4 people.

In April 1956 he led a delegation to London to negotiate for complete self-rule, but the talks broke down over British concerns about worker unrest and communist influence. After the failed meeting, Marshall resigned saying "I have failed in my Merdeka mission". Replacing him as Chief Minister was Lim Yew Hock, who would later take very tough action against the labour unions. However, Lim Yew Hock, like the subsequent PAP government, also built on many of Marshall's other ideas and reforms.

After resigning, Marshall visited China for two months, at the invitation of Premier Zhou Enlai. Contacted by a representative of a group of over 400 Russian Jews who were being refused exit from Shanghai by the Chinese authorities, Marshall intervened with the Premier and managed to have them released.[1]

After returning to Singapore, Marshall stayed on the backbenches before quitting the ruling Labour Front party and as a member of parliament in 1957 and founding the Workers' Party of Singapore. He lost his old seat of Cairnhill to incumbent chief minister Lim Yew Hock in the 1959 general election on the WP ticket, but won a by-election in Anson in 1961. After losing his seat again in the 1963 elections contesting as an independent, he returned to practise law and remained active in opposition politics even after J. B. Jeyaretnam became leader of the Workers' Party in 1972.

From 1978 to 1993, Marshall served as Singapore's Ambassador to France, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland. As ambassador, Marshall always defended his country's interests, despite his differences with Lee Kuan Yew's government. He retired from the diplomatic corps in 1993.

Legacy[edit]

In memory of this political luminary, the Marshall estate donated a bust of Marshall created by Hungarian sculptor Peter Lambda to the Singapore Management University Law Faculty Moot Court and named the court after him. Mrs Marshall expressed the hope that the tribute would inspire all law students at the University to pursue the qualities of passion, diligence, courage and integrity that distinguished her late husband's remarkable lifetime achievements.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bytensky, Vadim (2007). Journey from St. Petersburg. ISBN 978-1-4259-9935-3. 
  2. ^ Lim, Leonard (11 November 2011). "Bust of David Marshall to grace SMU court named after him". Straits Times (Singapore). 
  • Curriculum Planning and Development Division, Ministry of Education, Singapore – History of Singapore, From Settlement to Nation. (December 2006)

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Newly Created
Chief Minister of Singapore
6 April 1955 – 7 June 1956
Succeeded by
Lim Yew Hock
Parliament of Singapore
Preceded by
Newly Created
Member of Legislative Assembly for Cairnhill
1955–1959
Succeeded by
Lim Yew Hock
Preceded by
Mohamed Ariff bin Baharuddin
Member of Legislative Assembly for Anson
1961–1963
Succeeded by
Chiang Seok Keong