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 ChiamSeeTong-SDARally-20060502.jpg
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.

The newer constituencies are because of the growing population of Bukit Batok, Yishun, Hougang and Tampines:

  • Bukit Gombak - split from Bukit Batok
  • Chong Pang - split from Nee Soon
  • Hong Kah North - split from Bukit Batok
  • Hong Kah South - split from Hong Kah
  • Hougang - split from Punggol
  • Nee Soon Central - split from Nee Soon
  • Nee Soon East - split from Nee Soon
  • Nee Soon South - split from Nee Soon
  • Tampines East - split from Tampines
  • Tampines North - split from Tampines
  • Tampines West - split from Tampines

Removed constituencies:

  • Anson: J B Jeyaretnam (retired) [merged with Tanjong Pagar]
  • Bo Wen: Vasoo Sushilan (moved to Radin Mas) [merged with Ang Mo Kio]
  • Delta: Yeo Choo Kok (retired) [merged with Tiong Bahru]
  • Khe Bong: Tang Guan Seng (moved to Hougang) [merged with Kuo Chuan & Toa Payoh]
  • Nee Soon: Koh Lip Lin (split into four, moved to Nee Soon South)
  • River Valley: Tay Eng Soon (moved to Tampines North) [merged with Cairnhill]
  • Rochore: Toh Chin Chye (retired) [merged with Kampong Glam]
  • Tampines: Phua Bah Lee (retired)
  • Telok Ayer: Ong Pang Boon (retired) [merged with Kreta Ayer]

New candidates[edit]

Retiring candidates[edit]

Candidate Age Constituency Since Replacement
Ang Kok Peng 61 Buona Vista 1972 Peter Sung
Chai Chong Yii 53 Bukit Batok 1972 Ong Chit Chung
E.W. Barker 68 Tanglin 1959 Lew Syn Pau
Eric Cheong 58 Toa Payoh 1968 Davinder Singh
Fong Sip Chee 50 Kampong Chai Chee 1963 Hong Hai
Jek Yeun Thong 58 Queenstown 1968 Chay Wai Chuen
Lai Tha Chai 52 Henderson 1972 S Vasoo
Ong Pang Boon 58 Telok Ayer 1959 Merged into Kreta Ayer
Phua Bah Lee 56 Tampines 1968 Split into three different wards
S. Rajartnam 73 Kampong Glam 1959 Loh Meng See
Tang See Chim 56 Chua Chu Kang 1966 Low Seow Chay
Toh Chin Chye 68 Rochor 1959 Merged into Kampong Glam
Yeo Choo Kok 52 Delta 1970 Merged into Kim Seng


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. ^ Dieter Nohlen, Florian Grotz & Christof Hartmann (2001) Elections in Asia: A data handbook, Volume II, p255 ISBN 0-19-924959-8