Lim Yew Hock

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Lim Yew Hock
2nd Chief Minister of Singapore
In office
June 7, 1956 – June 3, 1959
Governor Sir Robert Brown Black (1955-1957)
Sir William Goode (1957-1959)
Preceded by David Saul Marshall
Succeeded by Abolished
Replaced by the Prime Minister of Singapore[1]
Personal details
Born 15 October 1914
Singapore, Crown Colony of the Straits Settlements
Died 30 November 1984 (age 70)[1]
Mecca, Saudi Arabia[1]
Nationality Singaporean
Political party Labour Front (1955-1957)[1]
Singapore People's Alliance (1957-1963)[2]
Profession Politician, diplomat
Religion Islam

Lim Yew Hock (Chinese: 林有福; pinyin: Lín Yǒufú; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Lîm Iú-hok; 15 October 1914 - 30 November 1984), later renamed Haji Omar Lim Yew Hock, was Singapore's second Chief Minister from 1956 to 1959. He is known for suppressing the communist movements and leading the all-party delegation that won internal self-government for Singapore.[1]

In 1956, the first Chief Minister David Marshall resigned after failing to gain full independence from British rule. Lim, then Minister for Labour and Welfare, became the Chief Minister and headed a new coalition government. He began to suppress the anti-colonial activists and communists. He banished two Chung Cheng High School teachers and dissolved the Chinese Middle School Students' Union.[1]

When the Chinese Middle School riots broke out in October 1956, Lim decided to take aggressive steps to stop the violence. With the support of the British Governor and Commissioner of Police, troops with tear gas and helicopters were brought in to end the riots. Many key pro-communist union leaders in the People's Action Party (PAP), including Lim Chin Siong, were detained under the Public Security Act.[1]

With his strong measures against the unrests, the British gained more confidence in the local government's handling of internal security. Lim led an all-party delegation to negotiate with the British in a series of Merdeka talks from 1956 to 1958, and won Singapore a new constitution granting internal self rule.[1]

Following internal differences with Marshall, he dissolved the Labour Front and formed the Singapore People's Alliance (SPA). However, his tough measures ultimately led to his political downfall. It alienated a large portion of the Chinese-speaking electorate and this enabled the PAP to win the 1959 general election and form a new government of Singapore.[2] The other reason for his political downfall was that Christmas Island, administered by Singapore at that time, was transferred to Australia in 1957, and that incident made Lim Yew Hock unpopular.

However, he retained his seat in the Legislative Assembly by winning at Cairnhill instead of re-running at Havelock, beating incumbent David Marshall, the seat which he held until 1963. Under Lim Yew Hock, the SPA joined the Singapore Alliance Party on July 1961, an extension of the federal Alliance Party which included the local branches of the United Malay National Organization, Malayan Chinese Association, and the Malayan Indian Congress. Despite his high profile within the Singapore Alliance, Lim chose not to stand in the 1963 Singapore general election. The Singapore Alliance subsequently performed poorly during the election and lost all seven of its seats, including the four held by the People's Alliance.[2]

In 1964, Lim was appointed Malaysian High Commissioner to Australia, based in Canberra. In June 1966, he went missing from Canberra. A massive police search was unsuccessful in locating him. His wife and daughters went on national television to plead for his safe return, and the Malysian Prime Minister at the time, Tunku Abdul Rahman, made a personal appeal from Kuala Lumpur and sent Malaysia's chief of protocol, Enche Abdul Rahman Jallal, to Sydney to help in the search.[3]

It was discovered that Lim had flown from Canberra to Sydney under the name "Hawk". It was also revealed that he had an ongoing association with a 19-year-old Kings Cross stripper, Sandra Nelson. Initially, she too could not be located, but later said she had no idea where Lim had been. Then, just as mysteriously as he had disappeared, Lim turned up after being missing for ten days. A passing stranger had discovered him ill, wandering on a Sydney street, and took him in. Apparently the stranger was not aware of Lim’s identity for nine days, and had not even made the connection from the nationwide media coverage of his disappearance. The stranger drove him to Canberra to return him to the High Commission. The stranger’s identity was never revealed.[3]

In later years Lim became a Muslim and adopted the name of Haji Omar Lim Yew Hock. He died in Saudi Arabia on 30 November 1984 and was buried in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Yeoh, Joe (1995). To Tame a Tiger: The Singapore Story. Singapore: Wiz Biz. 
  2. ^ a b c Lau, Albert (1998). A Moment of Anguish: Singapore in Malaysia and the Politics of Disengagement. Singapore: Times Academic Press. ISBN 981-210-1349. 
  3. ^ a b ""The Diplomat and the Samaritan"". Time (Time Inc.) (1 July 1966). 1966. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Lau, Albert (1998). A Moment of Anguish: Singapore in Malaysia and the Politics of Disengagement. Singapore: Times Academic Press. ISBN 981-210-1349. 
  • Yeoh, Joe (1995). To Tame a Tiger: The Singapore Story. Singapore: Wiz Biz. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
David Saul Marshall
Chief Minister of Singapore
June 7, 1956 - June 3, 1959
Succeeded by
Replaced by the Prime Minister of Singapore
Parliament of Singapore
Preceded by
Newly Created
Member of Parliament for Havelock
Succeeded by
Lau Por Tuck Peter
Preceded by
David Saul Marshall
Member of Parliament for Cairnhill
Succeeded by
Lim Kim San