List of Former Speakers
Sir George Oehlers (1955 – 1963)
George Edward Noel Oehlers, better known as Geno, started his career as a lawyer. He was a keen sportsman, who received the Order of the British Empire in 1953 for being equally active in community work. As part of constitutional reforms in the country, George Oehlers was appointed by Governor John Nicoll as the Speaker of the first Legislative Assembly of Singapore in 1955. He was the first Singapore Eurasian to have been awarded with knighthood in 1958.
E.W. Barker (1963 – 1964)
In his years of service, E.W. Barker not only served as Speaker but also as Cabinet Minister and Leader of the House. After his studies at Cambridge, he practised law in Singapore and entered politics when the then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew persuaded him. Like Oehlers, Barker also had a reputation for being a skilled sportsman. E.W. Barker was known for his distinctly leisurely speaking style, which was then perhaps uncharacteristic of other PAP politicians.
A.P. Rajah (1964 – 1966)
A.P. Rajah had a long and distinguished civil service career where he served as City Councillor, Legislative Assemblyman, Speaker of Parliament, Ambassador and a High Court judge. He began his career in private law practice and entered politics during the turbulent years of Singapore's merger with Malaysia, as well as subsequently during independence. He was first elected into the Legislative Assembly as an independent member for Farrer Park and became full-time Speaker after Singapore's separation from Malaysia in 1965.
Punch Coomaraswamy (1966 – 1970)
P. Coomaraswamy once declared that law was his first love. He read law in England and practised in Singapore until 1966 when he was appointed Deputy Speaker and subsequently the Speaker. He was well known for his astuteness and sense of humour. P. Coomaraswamy also served as High Commissioner and Ambassador to several countries during his career. After serving 14 years as a diplomat, he was appointed as a High Court judge in 1984.
Yeoh Ghim Seng (1970 – 1989)
Dr Yeoh Ghim Seng is said to be one of the longest serving Speakers of any parliament in the world. As former Speakers had a legal background, his appointment was a break from the past. Dr Yeoh was an eminent surgeon when he was elected as the Speaker in 1970. He embarked on his political career as a Member of Parliament for Joo Chiat and served the constituency for 22 years. Dr Yeoh served as the Speaker of Singapore Parliament for 19 years.
Tan Soo Khoon (1989 – 2002)
During his university days, Tan Soo Khoon was an active student leader and the Secretary-General of the students' union. Tan Soo Khoon first started out as a grassroots leader at Kuo Chuan constituency. He won a seat as the Member of Parliament for Alexandra constituency when he was 27. In 1985, Tan Soo Khoon became the Deputy Speaker and subsequently took over the Chair after Dr Yeoh's retirement. He oversaw the construction of the New Parliament House, which was completed in 1999.
Abdullah Tarmugi (2002 – 2011)
Before entering politics, Abdullah Tarmugi worked as an Urban Sociologist, Senior Statistician/Planning Analyst, Journalist, and a Research Manager. He was first elected as a Member of Parliament in 1984. He served as Deputy Speaker from 1989 to 1993 and had a fulfilling public career as a Minister of State, Senior Minister of State, as well as a Cabinet Minister from 1993 to 2002 in various ministries. He was also the Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs from 1993 to 2002 before assuming the position as the Speaker of Parliament in 2002.
Michael Palmer (2011 – 2012)
Michael Palmer was elected as the eighth Speaker of Singapore Parliament on 10 October 2011.
Mr Palmer was first elected into Parliament in 2006. Although he resigned from his seat in 2012, he won the Single-Member Punggol East constituency in the 2011 general elections. He has served in the Estimates Committee of the 11th Parliament and chaired the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Defence and Foreign Affairs. Prior to his election as Speaker, he was appointed as the Chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Home Affairs and Law in July 2011. He was also a member of the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for National Development and Environment.
Mdm Halimah Yacob (2013 – 2017)
Mdm Halimah Yacob is Singapore’s first woman Speaker of Parliament. She had been a Member of Parliament since 2001 and was one of the MPs serving the Marsiling-Yew Tee Group Representation Constituency. She had previously served as the Minister of State in the Ministry of Social and Family Development from 2012 to 2013. As an MP, she was also a Member of the Public Petitions Committee before assuming the role as Chairman of the Committee of Selection, Committee of Privileges, House Committee, Public Petitions Committee and Standing Orders Committee.