People

Lawyer made first Speaker of Parliament

Mr Rajah was a High Court judge from 1976 until 1990.
Mr Rajah was a High Court judge from 1976 until 1990.PHOTO: COURTESY OF A.P. RAJAH

Mr A.P. Rajah was appointed the first Speaker of Parliament in December 1965 when the first parliamentary session opened in independent Singapore.

Previously, he had been a Speaker of the Legislative Assembly while still continuing his law practice. As a full-time Speaker of Parliament, Mr Rajah was given a salary of $3,000 a month.

Born in Port Dickson, Negri Sembilan, Mr Rajah read law at Oxford University and was called to the English Bar in 1937. He later moved to Singapore and opened up a law firm, Tan Rajah & Cheah, in 1947.

Mr Rajah later became a city councillor and ran for elections in 1959 as an independent candidate for Farrer Park. He won the seat and was elected into the Legislative Assembly. In 1963, he lost his seat but became Speaker of the Legislative Assembly a year later.

In 1966, Mr Rajah was appointed Singapore's first High Commissioner to Britain and was later High Commissioner to Australia and Fuji.

He was a High Court judge from 1976 until his retirement in 1990. He was also the first Supreme Court judge to remain on the Bench after turning 70.

He died in 1999 at age 88.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 06, 2015, with the headline 'People Lawyer made first Speaker of Parliament'. Print Edition | Subscribe