Edmund W. Barker

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Edmund William Barker
Minister for Law
In office
1 November 1964 – 12 September 1988
Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew
Preceded by Kenneth M. Byrne
Succeeded by S. Jayakumar
Personal details
Born 1 December 1920
Singapore, Straits Settlements
Died 12 April 2001(2001-04-12) (aged 80)
Nationality Singaporean
Political party PAP logo variation.pngPeople's Action Party
Spouse(s) Gloria Hyacinth Quintal
Children 4
Alma mater St Catharine's College, Cambridge

Edmund William Barker, DUNU (First Class), SPMJ, (1 December 1920 – 12 April 2001, often referred to as "Edmund W. Barker", "E. W. Barker" or "Eddie Barker") was a politician and lawyer from Singapore. A member of the People's Action Party (PAP), he served in the Cabinet from 1964 to 1988.

Early life[edit]

Barker was educated at Serangoon English School and Raffles Institution, before going on to Raffles College (a predecessor institution of the present-day National University of Singapore) in 1940. A talented sports player, Barker was selected to represent Singapore as a member of the national hockey team while he was still a schoolboy. He is also known as a guitar player.[1]

During World War II, Barker traveled to Thailand as part of a medical health unit which was sent to look after Allied POWs working on the Burma-Siam Railway.

After the war, Barker was awarded a Queen's Scholarship in 1946 to study in the United Kingdom at Cambridge University, where he read law at St Catharine's College. He was then called to the bar at the Inner Temple in London, and returned to Singapore to practice law.[2]


Barker practised law in Singapore from 1952 to 1964 at the law firms Braddell Brothers and Lee & Lee. He was persuaded to enter politics in 1963 by Lee Kuan Yew.

Barker was elected a member of the Singapore Legislative Assembly in 1963, representing the constituency of Tanglin. He continued to represent the constituency in the Singapore Parliament to 1988.

Barker served as the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly from 1963-64.[3] In 1964, he was appointed the Minister for Law, and continued to hold that post until 1988. As Minister for Law, he drafted the Proclamation of Singapore of Singapore[clarification needed] in 1965, announcing Singapore's separation from Malaysia. During his 25 years in Parliament, Barker also served as the Minister for National Development (1965–75), Minister for Home Affairs (1972), Minister for the Environment (1975–79), Minister for Science and Technology (1977–81) and Minister for Labour (1983).[4]

Barker retired from politics in 1988.

Other roles Barker held included being the first President of the Singapore National Olympic Council (1970-1990), President of the South-East Asia Peninsular Games Federation Council (1973), Chairman of the Bukit Turf Club (1989–94), and Chairman of the Singapore Stock Exchange (1989–93).


A Eurasian Singaporean,[5] Barker was the son of Clarence Barker and Dorothy Evaline Paterson.

E. W. Barker was of mixed- Portuguese, Irish, Japanese, Scottish, Malay and German descent. His great-great grandfather was Thomas Owen Crane (1799-1869), an Irishman and one of the first ten Europeans to settle in Singapore and his great-great-great grandfather was Sir (Dr) Jose D Almeida, (1784-1850), a Portuguese doctor and well-known businessman in early Singapore.


Barker died on 12 April 2001 at 12:40 pm at the National University Hospital, after two months of intensive care following an emergency colon surgery in February 2001. He left behind his wife Gloria Hyacinth Quintal and four children.[2]


  1. ^ Barker, Victoria. "Meet this Barker!". my paper. Retrieved 2 December 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "E.W Barker". History Blog. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  3. ^ Singapore Parliament, List of Speakers
  4. ^ "Barker, Edmund William (E. W. Barker)". National Library Board. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  5. ^ The New Eurasian, April-June 2010. Archived 2011-10-27 at the Wayback Machine.
  • Lam, Peng Er & Tan, Kevin Y.L. (1999). Lee's Lieutenants. South Wind Production. ISBN 1-86448-639-2.
  • "Old guard Stalwart Eddie Barker dies", The Straits Times, (2001, April 13), p1
  • "The reluctant politician", The Straits Times, Home, (2001, April 13), p2
  • "Breadwinner", (1970, May 8), The Straits Times, p6

External links[edit]