Singaporean general election, 1988

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Singaporean general election, 1988
1984 ←
3 September 1988 → 1991

81 seats (plus 2 NCMPs) to the Parliament of Singapore.

Only 50 seats contested; 41 seats needed for a majority.

  First party Second party Third party
  Lee Kuan Yew J.B. Jeyaretnam Chiam See Tong
Leader Lee Kuan Yew J.B. Jeyaretnam Chiam See Tong
Leader's seat Tanjong Pagar Not contesting Potong Pasir
Last election 77 seats, 64.8% 1 seat, 3.7% 1 seat, 3.7%
Seats won 80 0 + 2 NCMPs 1
Seat change Increase3 Decrease1 Steady
Popular vote 848,029 224,473 158,341
Percentage 63.2% 12.6% (total) / 38.5% (valid) 11.8% (total) / 39.5% (valid)
Swing Decrease1.6% Increase6.4%/Decrease3.4% Increase5.7%/Decrease6.6%

Prime Minister before election

Lee Kuan Yew

Elected Prime Minister

Lee Kuan Yew

Coat of arms of Singapore (blazon).svg
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General elections were held in Singapore on 3 September 1988. The result was a victory for the People's Action Party, which won 80 of the 81 seats. Voter turnout was 94.7%, although this figure represents the turnout in the 50 constituencies to be contested,[1] with PAP candidates earning walkovers in the other 31.


Group Representation Constituencies were introduced in this general election to ensure ethnic minority representation in Parliament, starting with three joint constituencies. This was the last time Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew led the PAP in an election and another two stalwarts, former Deputy Prime Minister Dr Toh Chin Chye and Senior Minister S. Rajaratnam, retired for the PAP's renewal process.

Two seats were vacated in 1986 - the seat of Anson for Workers' Party (WP) Member of Parliament and chief J. B. Jeyaretnam and Geylang West of PAP MP Teh Cheang Wan, the former convicted and disqualified as MP for improper party accounts, while the latter committed suicide while on investigations for corruption - but no by-election was held. The Workers' Party absorbed two parties, Barisan Sosialis (BS) and Singapore United Front to become the largest opposition party and also allied with the Malay party PKMS as one common unit.

Former solicitor-general and Law Society president, Francis Seow, standing under the WP ticket in Eunos Group Representation Constituency with veteran politician Dr Lee Siew Choh, came under fire from the PAP leadership for his alleged dubious financial circumstances. Nevertheless, the strong WP team caught PAP's attention and Tay Eng Soon, a popular PAP stalwart, was switched to face the team. In the end, PAP won the GRC by an extremely narrow margin of 50.9% for the PAP and 49.1% for the WP.

With the Singapore Democratic Party leader's Chiam See Tong sole victory in the seat of Potong Pasir, two Non-Constituency MP seats were offered to Dr Lee and Seow.

Francis Seow fled the country to avoid arrest and was disqualified from the post while Dr Lee took up the offer and became Singapore's first NCMP. This also marked his return to Parliament after 25 years since his last stint as a PAP and BS legislator. Once again, there was a significant increase of election deposit.

In November 1990, two years after the election, the Nominated MP scheme was implemented to introduce non-partisan voices into the legislature. Although the law allowed up to six NMPs, two were appointed at the start and served for a year before the Parliament term ended.

Boundary changes[edit]

The following were merged into GRCs:

  • Aljunied, Kampong Kembangan and Kampong Ubi divisions were merged into Aljunied GRC.
  • Bedok, Kampong Chai Chee and Tanah Merah divisions were merged into Bedok GRC.
  • Cheng San, Chong Boon and Jalan Kayu divisions were merged into Cheng San GRC.
  • Eunos, Kaki Bukit and part of Tampines divisions were merged into Eunos GRC.
  • Part of Hong Kah, Yuhua and Bukit Batok divisions were merged into Hong Kah GRC.
  • Jalan Besar, Kolam Ayer and Geylang West divisions were merged into Jalan Besar GRC.
  • Marine Parade, Joo Chiat and Geylang Serai divisions were merged into Marine Parade GRC.
  • Part of Nee Soon and most of Sembawang divisions were merged into Sembawang GRC.
  • Tampines division were evolved into Tampines GRC.
  • Tiong Bahru, Radin Mas and Henderson divisions were evolved into Tiong Bahru GRC.
  • Boon Teck, Kuo Chuan and Toa Payoh divisions were evolved into Toa Payoh GRC.

New candidates[edit]

  • George Yeo Yong Boon
  • Hong Hai
  • John Chen Seow Phun
  • K. Shanmugam
  • Lew Syn Pau
  • Low Seow Chay
  • Ong Chit Chung
  • Peter Sung
  • Seet Ai Mee
  • Wong Kwei Cheong

Retiring candidates[edit]

  • Ang Kok Peng, MP for Buona Vista
  • Chai Chong Yii, MP for Bukit Batok
  • E.W. Barker, MP for Tanglin
  • Eric Cheong, MP for Toa Payoh
  • Fong Sip Chee, MP for Kampong Chai Chee
  • Jek Yeun Thong, MP for Queenstown
  • Lai Tha Chai, MP for Henderson
  • Ong Pang Boon, MP for Telok Ayer
  • Phua Bah Lee, MP for Tampines (and was split up).
  • S. Rajaratnam, MP for Kampong Glam
  • Tang See Chim, MP for Chua Chu Kang
  • Toh Chin Chye, MP for Rochor
  • Yeo Choo Kok, MP for Delta


Party Votes % Seats +/-
People's Action Party 848,029 63.2 80 +3
Workers' Party 224,473 16.7 0 -1
Singapore Democratic Party 158,341 11.8 1 0
National Solidarity Party 50,432 3.8 0 New
United People's Front 17,282 1.3 0 0
Singapore Justice Party 14,660 1.1 0 0
Singapore Malay National Organisation 13,526 1.0 0 0
Angkatan Islam 280 0.0 0 0
Independents 15,412 1.1 0 0
Invalid/blank votes 30,629 - - -
Total 1,373,064 100 81 +2
Source: Nohlen et al.


  1. ^ Nohlen, D, Grotz, F & Hartmann, C (2001) Elections in Asia: A data handbook, Volume II, p255 ISBN 0-19-924959-8