Lim Chin Siong
Name: Lim Chin Siong
Occupation: Politician
Gender: Male
Birth Day: February 28, 1933
Death Date: Feb 5, 1996 (age 62)
Age: Aged 62
Country: Singapore
Zodiac Sign: Pisces

Social Accounts

Lim Chin Siong

Lim Chin Siong was born on February 28, 1933 in Singapore (62 years old). Lim Chin Siong is a Politician, zodiac sign: Pisces. Nationality: Singapore. Approx. Net Worth: Undisclosed.

Trivia

He was a trade union leader and often led labor protests.

Net Worth 2020

Undisclosed
Find out more about Lim Chin Siong net worth here.

Does Lim Chin Siong Dead or Alive?

As per our current Database, Lim Chin Siong died on Feb 5, 1996 (age 62).

Physique

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Before Fame

He was expelled from school for his activities with the Anti-British League.

Biography

Biography Timeline

1933

Lim was born in 1933 to Lim Teng Geok (Chinese: 林廷玉; pinyin: Lín Tíngyù) and Ang Kee Neo (Chinese: 洪柿娘; pinyin: Hóng Shìniang) in Singapore, along Telok Ayer Street, and was the second child in a family that would eventually have 13 children, although one child did not survive during the Japanese occupation. The Great Depression had a profound impact on the global economy, even in Singapore. The Lims were forced to move to peninsular Malaya from Singapore in search of a better life when Chin Siong was 3 years old. Lim and his family eventually settled in Pontian Kechil, in Johor, where Chin Siong would spend his childhood.

1939

Lim enrolled in Pei Chun Primary School in Pontian (today known as SJK (C) Pei Chun) in 1939. It was a time when numerous events leading up to World War II were happening both at home and globally. The Marco Polo Bridge incident had only happened two years ago in 1937, while Lim also recalled in a manuscript that was published posthumously that his father's only brother, heeding the philanthropist Tan Kah Kee's call to arms, had volunteered to fight against the Japanese in China:

1942

In 1942, when Lim was just nine years old and in Standard III, schools were forced to close because of the Japanese invasion of Malaya. His family, which used to run a provision shop, were forced to flee to the jungle with their town folks. His family, however, was resourceful. They cleared a piece of land to plant rice and build a wooden pondok (hut), and also raised pigs and chickens.

1945

After the war in 1945, Lim and his family returned to their house only to realise that it had been razed to the ground. Lim's father leased a new plot of land in Kampong Rambah, where he built a new house and restarted his provision shop business. Lim then returned to Pei Chun to complete his primary school education. As with most of his cohort who had to stop school because of the war, he graduated only at the age of 15. As there were no secondary schools in Pontian at the time, Lim's parents had to first get Lim to work temporarily as a shop assistant, and also to get Lim's brother, Chin Kiat, to stop his schooling. He was then able to afford to continue his studies in Singapore, at Catholic High School, in 1949.

1950

Lim did well enough in his first semester at Catholic High that, together with an appeal from his father, he was able in 1950 to transfer to Chinese High School, then the premier Chinese medium school in Singapore. Lim was by then 17 years old, and distracted in his studies by numerous events: the victory of the Communists and the proclamation of the People's Republic; the African anti-colonial movement; and the ill treatment of students, particularly of Chinese descent, in Singapore. These were factors which influenced Lim to join the Anti-British League (ABL), an anticolonial organisation that received instructions from the Malayan Communist Party.

1951

With the support of the ABL, and with his classmate and later political partner, Fong Swee Suan (Chinese: 方水雙; pinyin: Fāng Shuǐshuāng), Lim organised a successful boycott of the Chinese junior middle school examinations in 1951. The examinations were deemed pointless as it was primarily meant for students who wanted to further their studies in China, even though all universities were closed to Malayans since the PRC was established. This attracted the attention of the Special Branch, who held him in custody for a week. When he was released, he was expelled by the school.

1954

The Special Branch would keep Lim under close watch even after his release and expulsion from school. He tried to learn some English at the Eastaff English School, and then worked as a part-time teacher, but under the name of "Mr Yu". Between 1953 and 1954, Lim then became more involved in the unions: he worked as a paid secretary for the Changi branch of the Singapore Bus Workers' Union, then its Paya Lebar branch, and also became secretary in the Malaya Spinning Workers' Union. In 1954, leaders of the newly formed union, the Singapore Factory and Shop Workers' Union (SFSWU), were impressed by his abilities and invited him to the post of Secretary-General. Within a year, the membership of the SFSWU grew from a few thousand to about 30,000 members.

Lim's work in the unions caught the eye of Lee Kuan Yew, who had returned to Singapore from England and organised regular secret meetings in the basement of his Oxley Road house, in which Toh Chin Chye, S. Rajaratnam, and Devan Nair, among others, attended. During those meetings the plan to set up the People's Action Party (PAP) was drawn up. Even though Lim was a co-founder of the party, he declined to be onstage during the inauguration of the PAP in November 1954, as he felt his previous police record might be exploited by their rivals and jeopardise the party.

The historic Rendel Constitution by the British was launched in 1954, and allowed up to 25 members to be elected to the Legislative Assembly. Lim was one of four PAP candidates selected to contest the 1955 election. James Puthucheary, in charge of the publicity for the PAP during the elections, remarked that Lim "was brilliant, and the crowd was spellbound". An attendee at one of the rallies recounted:

1955

Lim was elected into the legislative assembly as a member for Bukit Timah in 1955. Lim still holds the record for the youngest ever parliamentarian in Singapore history: he was just 22 when he took office. Lim seemed to be an extremely promising politician, even in the eyes of Lee Kuan Yew. David Marshall, then the Chief Minister, recalled that Lee had introduced Lim to him, and said that Lim would be the "future Prime Minister of Singapore".

The first of many controversies in which Lim was implicated was the Hock Lee Bus Company riots, which started in April 1955 and ended on 12 May 1955 with four dead, including a 16-year-old student who was paraded by the rioters for three hours on a stretcher after getting shot.

Hock Lee workers were on strike on 27 April 1955 when the police used force on them, injuring 15 people. In response, Fong Swee Suan, Lim's former classmate at Chinese High, and now the leader of the Bus Workers' Union and a PAP member, was quoted in the Chinese newspapers that "there was bound to be bloodshed in a revolution". Students from the Chinese-medium schools also joined the strikes in droves to provide moral support.

1956

Although Lim was forced to step down from the PAP CEC, he was still part of the PAP delegation in the all-party constitutional conference in London in April 1956. In his manuscripts that were published only posthumously, Lim remembered that the all-party delegation was not aligned in its objective to seek full self-government, and that it was "like a circus". Knowing that Marshall had made an enormous gamble by placing his job on the line in the case the talks failed, his political rivals - particularly from the PAP and the Labour Party - seemed to have given up on helping Marshall achieve his objective.

Unlike Marshall, who was very reluctant with the use of force, Lim Yew Hock was ruthless and was keen to show the British that he could control any disruptive influences in Singapore. On 18 September 1956, Yew Hock used the Preservation of Public Security Ordinance (PPSO), which allowed him extraordinary police powers, to dissolve seven organisations and detain seven people, mainly from Chinese middle schools. As public anger became so strong over the arrests, Chin Siong and others launched a Civil Rights Convention, which was Singapore's first civil rights movement. This alarmed the British and Yew Hock, as the Convention was supported by locals of all backgrounds and ideologies at the time and was on the verge of becoming a real force.

On 25 October 1956, Chin Siong gave a speech at Beauty World in Hokkien to an angry audience, urging them to calm down and that their enemy was not the police, but Yew Hock and the colonial masters. Among those who attended the rally were Lee Kuan Yew, Toh Chin Chye and Devan Nair.

With most of the PAP members labelled "communist" in prison, the British assessed that the concerns of internal security had been successfully allayed. Furthermore, the subsequent all-party delegations (in 1957 and 1958) accepted most of the conditions that Marshall had earlier rejected, which had led to the failure of the talks in 1956. A fresh round of elections would be held in May 1959, this time for full internal self-government.

1957

Chin Siong was placed under solitary confinement for close to a year, away from his other PAP colleagues, as they were placed in the Medium Security Prison (MSP) instead. The number of PAP members imprisoned rose in August 1957, when PAP members from the trade unions (viewed as "communist or pro-communist") won half the seats in the CEC. The "moderate" CEC members, including Lee Kuan Yew, Toh Chin Chye and others, refused to take their appointments in the CEC. Yew Hock's government again made a sweeping round of arrests, imprisoning all the "communist" members, before the "moderates" re-assumed their office.

After Chin Siong's release, he was appointed the Political Secretary to the Minister for Finance, Goh Keng Swee. The CEC rules had by then been changed such that only "cadre" members appointed by the party executive could participate in CEC elections, ensuring that there would not be a takeover similar to the one in 1957.

1958

In early 1958, Chin Siong was transferred to the MSP as well. It was in the MSP where Chin Siong was asked to endorse a document called The Ends and Means of Malayan Socialism, which indicated that the detainees were committed to a "free, democratic, socialist and non-communist Malaya". Reflecting on the document in his manuscript, Chin Siong said that although he agreed with the contents in the statement, he felt he signed the document "under duress", and that it set a precedent whereby all political prisoners had to sign written statements prior to their release.

1959

The PAP won convincingly, with 43 out of the 51 seats at the polls. With this victory, Chin Siong and his fellow PAP colleagues who were imprisoned were released on 4 June 1959, just a few days after a hastily held CEC elections.

1961

Ong was then expelled, and he resigned his Assembly seat to challenge the government to a by-election in Hong Lim in April 1961, where he won 73.3% of the vote. This was despite the fact that Lee Kuan Yew had made a secret alliance with Fong Chong Pik, the leader of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM), to get the CPM cadres to support the PAP in the by-election.

The British had earlier tabled a proposition to merge the Malaya, Singapore, and North Borneo territories into a single sovereign country, calling it "the Grand Design". However, Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Malaya premier, had never been very keen on the proposal, as he was concerned that Singapore's majority Chinese population would outnumber the number of Malays and would hence dominate the political scene. Hence, many PAP members and the public were shocked that the Tunku had announced that he was favourable to merger in May 1961, and that Lee and Goh had secretly been in discussions with him since April. The public seemed to view the Tunku's agreement to merger with suspicion: on the surface, it appeared that the circumstances had not changed, yet the Tunku had changed his mind. The Anson by-election became a test of public sentiment towards the PAP - and they failed it, losing the seat to David Marshall in July.

In August 1961, Chin Siong and his fellow PAP members who were expelled formed a new party, called the Barisan Sosialis ("Socialist Front" in Malay), with Chin Siong as secretary-general and Lee Siew Choh as chairman. Meanwhile, details on the terms of merger with Malaya had been planned out by the PAP without any other party or public input.

There are many contradictions based on historical accounts. The British government in the 1950s had classified Lim as a "communist" in their documents, which have now been declassified. Although Lim claimed that he had not known the Anti-British League he joined had communist ties, the Special Branch's notes of Lim's activities contradicted this, such as Lim giving a talk in commemoration of Communist leader Joseph Stalin's death to his ABL subordinates. Philip Moore, the deputy high commissioner in Singapore, stated in confidential correspondence in September 1961 that Lim Chin Siong "was a really clever United Front Communist operator". The PAP had also labelled Lim and his faction as "communist". Official records of a meeting between Lord Selkirk, Lim and Fong Swee Suan also stated that when Lim and Fong were asked if they were communists, they "failed to give a clear answer". However, accounts from Chin Peng, the secretary-general of the CPM at the time, did not recall Lim as a key figure of the CPM, and also said that the Barisan was not controlled by them.

1962

Lim's meeting with Azahari on 6 December 1962 would change the British's minds. Azahari was a leading Brunei leftist who would eventually be accused of masterminding a rebellion in Brunei two days later. After that meeting, the British approved the swoop, and within a day the Internal Security Council approved a round of arrests. The operation was given the codename "Coldstore". But the operation was delayed by almost two months as Lee and the Tunku negotiated over the list of people to be arrested. A list of 169 people was eventually finalised, with Lim's name at the top of the list.

In one of his last interviews, Lim also said that between 1961 and 1963, he was responsible for "restraining the situation" to ensure that there was no violence following the referendum on merger. It was also noted in the minutes of a Barisan meeting on 30 September 1962 that even having been defeated by the PAP in the referendum that they agreed to keep using "peaceful constitutional processes" to win elections. His arrest in February 1963, if legitimate, contradicts his personal accounts and the archived records of the British.

1969

Eventually, Lim gave up the struggle in prison and requested to be released. On 21 July 1969, Lim wrote two letters: one addressed to Lee Kuan Yew, and one to Lee Siew Choh. In those letters, Lim stated that he had "completely lost confidence in the international communist movement", and that "communism is not as ideal as what we think it is". In the letter, Lim also resigned from the Barisan Sosialis, marking an end to his political career.

Apart from the letters he wrote upon his release in 1969, Lim had also denied consistently that he was a Communist. He did so for the last time in 1995, in the final interview he gave before he died:

1970

Lim was released along with Wong Chui Wan, his fiancée and a former colleague in the General Employees Union along Middle Road. They married in 1970, and had two sons. In England he worked odd jobs (at one point selling fruits in London), and also tried to nurse himself back to health. However, his condition remained fragile. In 1980 he suffered a heart attack and underwent a bypass operation in 1982.

1984

In 1984, Lim returned to Singapore with his family, and lived in Serangoon Gardens. He died of a heart attack on 5 February 1996 .

2010

In 2010, author Meira Chand's historical novel A Different Sky (Harvill Secker) featured Lim getting elected, along with fellow People's Action Party candidate, Lee Kuan Yew, to the Legislative Assembly at the climax.

2015

In May 2015, comics artist Sonny Liew released the graphic novel The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, featuring Lim, his life story and his political rival Lee. Upon its release, the National Arts Council withdrew a $8,000 publishing grant as it found that "the retelling of Singapore's history in the graphic novel potentially undermines the authority of legitimacy of the Government and its public institutions".

In July 2015, actor Benjamin Chow played Lim in The LKY Musical opposite Adrian Pang's Lee Kuan Yew, directed by Steven Dexter. The Straits Times' critic Corrie Tan noted that "the musical's designated anti-hero, Lim Chin Siong, is thankfully not relegated to the ranks of villainy and one-note declarations... the charismatic left-wing leader, with his compelling oratory and rapport with the common man [is portrayed]". During the musical's run, actor Chow published a blog post, later removed, on how the writers had been "extremely open to input" from the Ministry of Communications and Information.

In September 2015, Jonathan Lim's Chestnuts 50 The UnbelYeevable Jubilee Edition live parody sketch show featured a 'bromance' between Lim and Lee.

🎂 Upcoming Birthday

Currently, Lim Chin Siong is 89 years, 2 months and 18 days old. Lim Chin Siong will celebrate 90th birthday on a Tuesday 28th of February 2023.

Find out about Lim Chin Siong birthday activities in timeline view here.

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