|His Excellency Tun Haji
Yusof bin Ishak
يوسف بن اسحاق
D.U.T. (First Class), S.M.N. (Tun), Pingat Kemahkotaan 1961, First Class - D.K. (Laila Utama), Sijil Kemuliaan (First Class), D.U.B.C. (First Class), P.J.G. (First Class), D. Lit. (National University of Singapore)
Official portrait, Yusof Ishak
|1st President of Singapore|
9 August 1965 (retroactive) – 23 November 1970
|Prime Minister||Lee Kuan Yew (1959–1990)|
|Preceded by||Newly created post
(he was previously Yang di-Pertuan Negara of Singapore)
|Succeeded by||Benjamin Henry Sheares|
|2nd Yang di-Pertuan Negara of Singapore|
3 December 1959 – 9 August 1965 (retroactive)
|Preceded by||Sir William Allmond Codrington Goode|
|Succeeded by||Position abolished|
|Born||Yusof bin Ishak
12 August 1910
Terong, Taiping, Perak, Federated Malay States
|Died||23 November 1970
|Resting place||Kranji State Cemetery|
|Spouse(s)||Toh Puan Noor Aishah|
Primary school: Victoria Bridge School
Tun Haji Yusof bin Ishak (Jawi: يوسف بن اسحاق ;/ / YUUSS-off bin ISS-hahk; DUT (First Class), SMN 12 August 1910 – 23 November 1970) was a Singaporean politician and was the first President of Singapore, serving from 1965 to 1970. Before becoming head-of-state, Yusof was a well-known journalist and co-founded Utusan Melayu, which is still in publication today. He started journalism after he graduated from Raffles Institution in 1929 and in 1932, he joined Warta Malaya, a well-known Malay newspaper company at that time. He left the company in 1938 and co-founded Utusan Melayu.
Yusof held many appointments within the Singaporean government, he served on the Film Appeal Committee from 1948 to 1950 and was also a member of both the Nature Reserves Committee and Malayanisation Commission for a year. In July 1959, he was appointed Chairman of the Public Service Commission, Singapore. He was sworn on 3 December 1959 as Singapore's Yang di-Pertuan Negara (head of state) after the PAP won the first election held in Singapore after Singapore's self-governance. Yusof then became the first President of Singapore after the country gained independence on 9 August 1965.
His portrait appears on the Singapore Portrait Series currency notes introduced in 1999.
Born on 12 August 1910 in Terong, Taiping, Perak Darul Ridzuan, which was then part of the Federated Malay States (present day Malaysia), Yusof was the eldest son in a family of nine. He was of Minangkabau descent from his father's side while his mother was a Malay from the Langkat region in Indonesia. His father, Encik Ishak bin Ahmad, was also a civil servant and held the post of Acting Director of Fisheries, Straits Settlements and Federated Malay States. His brother, Aziz Ishak, was a Malayan journalist and freedom fighter.
Yusof received his early education in a Malay school in Kuala Kurau, Perak and began his English studies in 1921 at King Edward VII School in Taiping, He was then admitted to Victoria Bridge School in 1923 when his father was posted to Singapore. In 1924, he was enrolled in Raffles Institution for his secondary education. During his time in Raffles Institution, he played various sports such as swimming, weight lifting, water-polo, boxing, hockey and cricket and had also represented the school in various sporting events. He was also part of the Singapore National Cadet Corps and was commissioned as the first ever cadet officer in the Corps due to his outstanding performance. Yusof received his Cambridge School Certificate with distinction in 1927, he was also awarded the Queen's Scholarship and decided to prolonged his studies at Raffles Institution until 1929.
After graduating from Raffles Institution in 1929, Yusof began his career as a journalist and went into partnership with two other friends to publish, Sportsman, a sports magazine devoted entirely to sports. In 1932, Yusof joined Warta Malaya, a well-known newspaper during that time. Warta Malaya was heavily influenced by developments in the Middle East and Yusof wanted a newspaper dedicated to Malay issues. He fulfilled his vision by establishing Utusan Melayu with several Malay leaders in Singapore in May 1939.
During the Japanese Occupation of Singapore, Utusan Melayu had to stop circulation as machinery used to print the paper were requisitioned to publish the Japanese paper, Berita Malai. Yusof then moved back to Taiping and with the remaining money he had, he opened a provision shop and lived there until the war ended in 1945 and Utusan Melayu resumed publication. In 1957, Yusof moved to Kuala Lumpur and in February 1958, the headquarters of Utusan Melayu was also relocated to the city. During the post-war period, many Malays wanted independence of Malaya from the British and Yusof, fanned this fervour through his publications which resulted in the formation of the United Malay Nationalist Organisation (UMNO) in 1946. However, his democratic ideals were different from UMNO's vision of reestablishing the monarchy of Malaya. This resulted in rising tensions within the Utusan Melayu and in 1959, Yusof had sold his shares he had in the company and resigned as UMNO had bought over almost all of the shares of Utusan Melayu.
Political career and presidency
Yusof held several appointments within the Singaporean government, he had served on the Film Appeal Committee from 1948 to 1950 and was also a member of both the Nature Reserves Committee and Malayanisation Commission for a year. After his resignation from Utusan Melayu, Yusof took the position of Chairman of the Public Service Commission of Singapore at the invitation of then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.
After PAP's victory from the 1959 Singaporean elections, Yusof was appointed as Yang di-Pertuan Negara and was sworn on 3 December 1959. During his time as Yang di-Pertuan Negara, Singapore was divided by racial conflicts. Yusof actively promoted multiculturalism and reached out to people of all races to help restore trust and confidence after the 1964 racial riots.
On 9 August 1965, Singapore was expelled from the Malaysia and became an independent nation. The position of Yang di-Pertuan Negara was abolished and Yusof then became the first President of Singapore. As president, Yusof reached out to the people to reassure citizens astonished by Singapore's expulsion and continued to promote multiculturalism and a national identity within the country by visiting constituencies and reached out to different racial and religious groups.
Yusof bin Ishak served for three terms in office before he died on 23 November 1970 due to heart failure.
Yusof was survived by his wife of twenty one years, Puan Noor Aishah, and three children. Puan Noor Aishah continued her husband's legacy of public service and was the first Asian to become president of the Singapore Girl Guides Association. She and her now adult children were interviewed for the Channel NewsAsia documentary Daughters of Singapore, which screened in August 2015 as part of the SG50 celebrations and commemorated the spouses of Yusof Ishak and David Marshall, two pioneer leaders of Singapore.
The following institutions bear Yusof Ishak's name:
Yusof is buried at Kranji State Cemetery.
- Yusof Ishak Secondary School open by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew on 29 July 1966.
- The Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) was officially renamed in August 2015 as the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, so its name will call to mind Yusof’s "vision of equality, justice, harmony and strength amid diversity".
Other memorials include:
- The current series of Singapore dollar notes, the portrait series issued from 1999 onwards, features Yusof Ishak.
- In 2014, a wax figure of Yusof was unveiled at Madame Tussauds Singapore.
- In 2015, SG50's Golden jubilee celebration of Singapore's 50th anniversary of independence, Inche Yusof Ishak was featured in all set of six SG50 Commemorative Notes for which he champions the caused of meritocracy, multi-racialism and modernization of Singapore.
- The Masjid Yusof Ishak in Woodlands is due to be completed at the end of 2016.
As Sukarno's Konfrontasi (1963-1966) erupts across the region with Singapore having to be separated from Malaysia in 1965, some Malays felt betrayed and thought of migrating to Malaysia as they saw PAP as the only party that fights for merger, has failed in the battle for merger. But Yusof relentlessly walked the ground for hours under the searing heat of the sun, ignoring pain in both his legs, visiting every constituents around the island to soothe their fears. Ensuring all Singaporeans that he as a Malay race will stay in Singapore despite the many tumultuous challenges facing the newborn nation and ensuring that all Malays are protected and had the education and health care they needed and prove that they were not discriminated against, in a Chinese-majority city.
At the same time, the Chinese in Singapore were more fearful than the Malays when the Federation of Malaysia collapsed as Indonesia sees this as an opportunity to annexed (invade) Singapore from Batam with its growing, powerful military might with the support of PKI (Communist Party of Indonesia) movements in growing strength and influence. Philippines too lauded the collapse.
This has led Lee Kuan Yew shedding tears over the National TV after the separation was announced by Malaysian founding-Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman that Singapore is to be kicked out of the Federation of Malaysia.
What's next for Singapore during those tumultuous period? It was Inche Yusof Ishak's determination, courage and persuasion that the Malays do not leave Singapore where some have already left to be part of the larger Malay peninsula in case an invasion by Indonesia's Sukarno armed forces occurred. Inche Yusof told Singaporeans aloud that: "If we have a goodwill, Allah (God) will show us the way. Do not worry! Nothing to be feared of!"
Fears and rumours spreads uncontrollably that is if once the Malays in Singapore left for Malaysia and leaving only the Chinese community behind, the invasion (annexation) might commence soon by Sukarno. But as promised by Inche Yusof, the Malay communities in Singapore stays put, never wavered and declares that: "My birth, my rights and my death is for Singapore!"
After Singapore's independence in 1965 and the periods of Konfrontasi (Confrontation; Indonesia's undeclared war) prevails, Singapore sees itself as a must and compulsory to upgrade her small, 2-infantry regiments weakling armed forces, defence and military capabilities. But Singapore's plea to the world to rebuild her armed forces were turned-away and rejected by several countries (i.e., Britain, Switzerland, India, Egypt, etc.) Singapore sees it as a 'no choice' but to seek urgent help from Israel in the 1960's. It was a low-profile engagements as Singapore is in a Muslim-dominated region.
Inche Yusof's astuteness, perseverance, stoicism and patience pays off big time after a short-2 months period of post-Singapore's independence, President Sukarno's Konfrontasi ends, with Major-General Suharto's take-over of the government with his military reserved unit after a failed coup led by PKI's 30 September Movement.
With Konfrontasi soon coming to the process of ending, Suharto became Indonesia's second President and rules the most populous Muslim nation with an iron-fist for 3 decades. Suharto normalizes relations with its neighbours Singapore and Malaysia. A boost to multilateral ties in the region. Stability, peace, trades and economy flourished through out Southeast Asia during his time in office.
The goodwill of Inche Yusof Ishak has played a pivotal role in the peace and stability for the region with Singapore's forging better, closer and stronger ties with its neighbours (Indonesia) despite the bitter memories of 1963's Konfrontasi, MacDonald House bombing and hence the hanging of two Indonesian marines in 1968 at Changi Prison.
As a famous journalist who walks the ground and knows every situation, Yusof was an avid photographer and has a keen interest in photography and videography.
Yusof was also a devoutly religious person, he opens several mosques, Islamic religious institutions and officiated many welfare organizations in Singapore. He also attends many religious functions particularly Al-Qur'an recitation competition throughout his lifetime as well as celebrations of Prophet Muhammad's birthday (Maulidur Rasul). In 1963, he went for his Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca to perform and complete his Hajj rituals (the last Five Pillars of Islam).
- Second Lieutenant, National Cadet Corps, 1933–
- Writer, Editor, Rafflesian (Raffles Institution), 1933–
- Founder, Sportsman (Magazine), 1933–
- Managing Director, Accountant, Warta Malaya, 1933–
- Founder, Managing Director, Utusan Melayu (first-ever Malay newspaper), 1939–1959
- Chief, Member, Films Appeal Committee, 1948–1950
- Chief, Member, Nature Reserves Committee, 1948–
- Chief and Patron of the Arts Scene, Malayanisation Commission, Singapore Arts Society, 1948-1950
- Chairman, Public Service Commission (Singapore), July 1959–
- Colonel, Singapore Infantry Regiment, August 1963–
- Chancellor, National University of Singapore, 1965–1970
Yusof Ishak officiated many events including:
- 1959 – Announced Singapore's application of membership to the United Nations
- 1960 – Declares open to National Carnival, at Raffles Institution
- 1960 – Opening Ceremony of Art Exhibition of the Children's Festival, at the Chinese Chamber of Commerce
- 1961 – Opening of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Regional Conference
- 1961 – Opening of the 9th International Bazaar in Aid of the Blind, at Victoria Memorial Hall
- 1961 – Opening of the The Malay Paintings Exhibition, at Victoria Memorial Hall
- 1961 – Opening Ceremony of the Colour Slide Exhibition, at National Library of Singapore
- 1961 – Opening of the Grand Prix, at Thomson Road
- 1962 – Opening of the Malayan Writers Conference, at Victoria Memorial Hall
- 1963 – Declares open to the Fourth Session of Legislative Assembly, at St. Andrew's Road
- 1963 – Opening of the 14th annual open exhibition of Singapore Art Society, at Singapore Polytechnic
- 1963 – Opening of the Road Safety Photographic Exhibition, at Victoria Memorial Hall
- 1963 – Opening of the Second Malaysia Student Photographic Exhibition, at Singapore Polytechnic
- 1963 – Opening of the Rotary Conference, at Victoria Memorial Hall
- 1963 – Declares open to Orchid Flower Show, at Happy World Stadium
- 1964 – Declares open to exhibition of photos, books and paintings, at Ramakrishna Mission
- 1964 – Opening Ceremony of the Singapore Association for the Blind (Fun Fair), at Great World Park
- 1964 – Opening of the Assembly Hall, at St John Headquarters
- 1964 – Declares open to 15th Annual Art Exhibition, at Victoria Memorial Hall
- 1964 – Declares open painting class by the Malay Youth Artists group, at Kampong Melayu Boys' School
- 1965 – Opening of the Exhibition in conjunction with Anti-Leprosy Campaign, at Victoria Memorial Hall
- 1965 – Opening of the Exhibition of Paintings By Six Artists, at Victoria Memorial Hall
- 1965 – Opening of the National Language Month, at Singapore Conference Hall
- 1966 – Opening of the National Language Book Show, at Victoria Memorial Hall
- 1967 – Declares open to Singapore Grand Prix, at Thomson Road
- 1967 – Declares open to 3rd Annual Al-Qur'an Reading Competition, at Geylang Serai Vocational School
- 1969 – Opening of the Singapore Grand Prix 1969, at Thomson Road
- 1970 – Opening of the Singapore Grand Prix 1970 circuit, at Thomson Road
And also his wife Toh Puan Noor Aishah officiated many events including:
- 1960 – Declares open to Family Planning Exhibition, at Victoria Memorial Hall, by his wife Toh Puan Noor Aishah
- 1960 – Declares open to Art of Japanese Floral Arrangement Exhibition, in St Andrew's Mission Hospital, by his wife Toh Puan Noor Aishah
- 1961 – Declares open to 'Sale of Work', Cheshire Home, at Telok Paku, by his wife Toh Puan Noor Aishah
- 1961 – Declares open to The Flower Arrangement Demonstration Show, at National Library of Singapore, by his wife Toh Puan Noor Aishah
- 1961 – Declares open to 'Sale of Work' and exhibition of Social Welfare Department, at Victoria Memorial Hall, by his wife Toh Puan Noor Aishah
- 1963 – Opening of the Mammoth Exhibition and Sale-of-Work, at Victoria Memorial Hall, by his wife Toh Puan Noor Aishah
- 1963 – Singapore Amateur Athletic Association Open Championship, at Farrer Park, by his wife Toh Puan Noor Aishah
- 1964 – Declares open to 'Annual Sale of Work' for Tan Tock Seng Hospital, by his wife Toh Puan Noor Aishah
- 1964 – Opening of the Ngee Ann College Exhibition, by his wife Toh Puan Noor Aishah
- 1964 – Opening of the Flower Arranging and Sewing Exhibition, at Telok Kurau Malay School, by his wife Toh Puan Noor Aishah
- 1965 – Commence of the Red Cross fun fair at Raffles Institution, by his wife Toh Puan Noor Aishah
- 1965 – Declares open to Siglap Children's Festival, at St Patrick's School, by his wife Toh Puan Noor Aishah
- 1965 – Opening of the Social Welfare Homes' Sale of Works, at Victoria Memorial Hall, by his wife Toh Puan Noor Aishah
- 1965 – Opening of the Christmas Fair, at Victoria Memorial Hall, by his wife Toh Puan Noor Aishah
- 1966 – Declares open to Girl Guides' fun fair, at Anthony Road Girls' School, by his wife Toh Puan Noor Aishah
- 1967 – Declares open to Social Welfare Annual Sale of Work, at Victoria Memorial Hall, by his wife Toh Puan Noor Aishah
- 1969 – Declares open to Raffles Institution "Ang Pow '69" carnival, at Bras Basah Road, by his wife Toh Puan Noor Aishah
- 1970 – Young Women Muslim Association handicraft exhibition, at Haigsville Drive, by his wife Toh Puan Noor Aishah
- 1970 – Opening of the National Safety First Council of Singapore's Home Safety Exhibition, at Singapore Conference Hall, by his wife Toh Puan Noor Aishah
- 1970 – Opening of the Singapore Sogetsu Association's fifth annual floral exhibition, at Singapore Conference Hall, by his wife Toh Puan Noor Aishah
Yusof Ishak also opened schools and institutions including:
- 1960 – National Library of Singapore
- 1960 – Community Centre, at Pulau Seraya
- 1960 – Spastic Children's Association
- 1960 – Scouts Golden Jubilee Camp, at Jurong
- 1960 – Scouts Jubilee Camp, at Telok Paku
- 1961 – Malayan Orchid Society
- 1962 – Uttamram Chest Clinic, Singapore Anti-Tuberculosis Association (SATA)
- 1962 – Masjid Tentera Di-Raja (Military Mosque)
- 1963 – The National Theatre of Singapore (Panggong Negara), at Clemenceau Avenue
- 1963 – Masjid Malabar (for Indian-Muslim communities)
- 1964 – Singapore Association for the Blind
- 1964 – Bank Negara's Singapore branch, at Empress Place
- 1966 – Masjid Al-Abdul Razak, at Jalan Ismail
And also that of his wife Toh Puan Noor Aishah including:
- 1960 – Girl Guides' Golden Jubilee Camp, at Jurong Park, by his wife Toh Puan Noor Aishah
- 1960 – Young Muslim Women Association, by his wife Toh Puan Noor Aishah
- 1962 – Singapore Children's Society Convalescent Home, by his wife Toh Puan Noor Aishah
- 1963 – Singapore School for the Deaf, by his wife Toh Puan Noor Aishah
- 1967 – Young Women Muslim Association', at Haigsville Drive, by his wife Toh Puan Noor Aishah
- 1968 – Park Road Creche (Day Care Center), by his wife Toh Puan Noor Aishah
- 1968 – Toa Payoh Girls' Home, by his wife Toh Puan Noor Aishah
- 1969 – Singapore Association for Retarded Children's Lee Kong Chian Centre, at Margaret Drive, by his wife Toh Puan Noor Aishah
- 1970 – Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) hostel, at Fort Canning, by his wife Toh Puan Noor Aishah
- 1932 - Boxing Champion, winning the Aw Boon Par cup 1932
- 1933 - Weightlifting Champion, National Lightweight category
Titles and styles
- 10 August 1910 – 3 September 1959: Inche Yusof bin Ishak
- 3 December 1959 – 16 September 1963: Paduka Yang Mulia Yang di-Pertuan Negara, Inche Yusof bin Ishak
- 16 September 1963 – 9 August 1965: Tuan Yang Terutama Yang di-Pertuan Negera, Tun Yusof bin Ishak
- 9 August 1965 – 23 November 1970: His Excellency, President of the Republic, Inche Yusof bin Ishak.
Awards and honours
- Darjah Utama Temasek, 1st Class
- Seri Maharaja Mangku Negara, Tun, (Malaysia), Grand Commander
- Pingat Kemahkotaan 1961 (Selangor)
- Darjah Kerabat Laila Utama Yang Amat Dihormati (Brunei), 1st Class
- Sijil Kemuliaan, 1st Class
- Darjah Utama Bakti Cemerlang, 1st Class
- Pingat Jasa Gemilang, 1st Class
- Hon. Doctor of Letters, (National University of Singapore)
- Yusof Ishak Secondary School – a Secondary School in Singapore named in his honour.
- Masjid Yusof Ishak - a new mosque located in Woodlands named in his honour.
- "Encik Yusof Ishak". Istana Singapore. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
- "Yusof Head of State. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG". 2 December 1959. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
- Seet, K. K. (2000). The Istana (pp.88–89). Singapore: Times Editions. Call no.: RART 725.17095957 IST; Singapore rejoices. (1959, 4 December). The Straits Times, p. 1
- The Istana – index
- "The Singaporean Yusof Bin Ishak". The Singaporean. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
- "Biography - Yusuf bin Ishak". Knowledge Net. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
- "First issue of Warta Malaya (1930–1942) is published - Singapore History". History SG. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
- Kuntom., Ainon (1973). Malay newspapers, 1876-1973: A historical survey of the literature (pp. 27–32).
- "Life and times of Yusof Ishak, Singapore's first president". The Straits Times. 18 August 2014. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
- "Yusof Ishak: The man and his passions". AsiaOne. 25 August 2014. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
- State of Singapore. Government Gazette. Extraordinary. (G.N. 62, p.1055). Singapore. 3 December 1959.
- "Straits Times: Iseas to be named after Yusof Ishak on Aug 12". Ministry of Foreign Affair Singapore.
- "Cabinet pays last respects.". The Straits Times, (Retrieved from NewspaperSG). 24 November 1970. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
- "Growing up in the Presidents' shadow". AsiaOne.
- "History of Girl Guides Singapore" (PDF). Girl Guides Singapore. 2010.
- "Changing Lives: Puan Dr Noor Aishah". Channel NewsAsia.
- "Set of six SG50 commemorative notes unveiled". TODAY. 19 August 2015.
- "Yusof Ishak Mosque to be completed by end 2016". TODAY. 22 August 2014.
|Library resources about
- "Yusof Ishak". ISTANA Singapore : Office of the President of the Republic of Singapore, Government of Singapore. 2006-04-28. Retrieved 2007-09-20.
Sir William Allmond Codrington Goode
|Head of State of Singapore
Benjamin Henry Sheares
Sir William Allmond Codrington Goode
|Yang di-Pertuan Negara of Singapore
|President of Singapore
Benjamin Henry Sheares