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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.


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 but neither held its by-elections - Workers' Party (WP) Member of Parliament and leader J. B. Jeyaretnam (of Anson) and PAP incumbent Teh Cheang Wan (of Geylang West), vacated its seats due to conviction over falsified party accounts, and suicide over investigations for corruption, respectively.

WP absorbed the 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 faction. The election also saw the debut of WP candidate Low Thia Khiang, who would went on to win Hougang Single Member Constituency on the next election (which was also formed in this election), and become the party's secretary-general and one of the longest-serving opposition leader until 2020.

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 former solicitor-general and Law Society president, Francis Seow and veteran politician Dr Lee Siew Choh, both of which were standing under the WP ticket in Eunos Group Representation Constituency; their campaign was notable for criticizing PAP for alleged dubious financial circumstances; in response Minister of State Tay Eng Soon went to lead their PAP team for Eunos. Despite losing by a narrow margin of 49.1%-50.9%, WP were eligible for the NCMP; however, Seow fled the country on 17 December to avoid arrest and was disqualified from the post while Lee took up the offer and became Singapore's first NCMP, marking Lee's 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.


Date Event
14 June Publication of Electoral Boundaries report
17 August Dissolution of 6th Parliament
24 August Nomination Day
3 September Polling Day
18 September Candidates revealed for Non-constituency Member of Parliament
9 January 1989 Opening of 7th Parliament

Electoral boundaries[]

Template:See also 1988 was the first election in Singapore's history to introduce the Group Representation Constituency (GRC) scheme, which were formed with series of three (later elections increases up to six) constituencies/divisions with at least one minority member representing to ensure ethnic minority representation in Parliament, thus cumulating the effects with Plurality-at-large voting. Additionally, single member constituencies (SMC) were either formed from or absorbed to neighboring constituencies due to development and electorate, which was shown in the table below:

Constituency Changes
Formation of Group Representation Constituencies
Aljunied GRC Formed from Aljunied, Kampong Kembangan and Kampong Ubi SMCs
Bedok GRC Formed from Bedok, Kampong Chai Chee and Tanah Merah SMCs
Brickworks GRC Formed from Alexandra, Brickworks and Queenstown SMCs
Cheng San GRC Formed from Cheng San, Chong Boon and Jalan Kayu SMCs
Eunos GRC Formed from Eunos, Kaki Bukit and a portion of Tampines SMCs (the latter was renamed to Tampines North)
Hong Kah GRC Formed from parts of Bukit Batok (Hong Kah North), Hong Kah (Hong Kah Central) and Yuhua SMCs (Hong Kah South)
Jalan Besar GRC Formed from Geylang West, Jalan Besar and Kolam Ayer SMCs.
Marine Parade GRC Formed from Geylang Serai, Joo Chiat and Marine Parade SMCs.
Pasir Panjang GRC Formed from Clementi, Pasir Panjang and West Coast SMCs.
Sembawang GRC Formed from parts of Nee Soon (Chong Pang and Nee Soon East) and most of Sembawang SMCs
Nee Soon Central and Nee Soon South were subsumed into its own SMCs
Tampines GRC Formed from Changkat SMC and Tampines SMC (the latter was divided into Tampines Changkat, Tampines East and Tampines West)
Tiong Bahru GRC Formed from Delta, Henderson, Tiong Bahru and Radin Mas SMCs; Delta was absorbed into Tiong Bahru division.
Toa Payoh GRC Formed from Boon Teck, Khe Bong, Kuo Chuan and Toa Payoh SMCs; Khe Bong was absorbed into Boon Teck division.
New Single Member Constituencies
Bukit Gombak SMC Carved out from Bukit Batok SMC
Hougang SMC Carved out from Punggol SMC
Nee Soon Central SMC
Nee Soon East SMC
Carved out from Nee Soon SMC
Defunct Single Member Constituencies
Anson SMC Absorbed to Tanjong Pagar SMC
Bo Wen SMC Absorbed to Ang Mo Kio SMC
River Valley SMC Absorbed to Cairnhill SMC
Rochore SMC Absorbed to Kampong Glam SMC
Telok Ayer SMC Absorbed to Kreta Ayer SMC

New candidates[]

  • A Nasser Kamaruddin
  • Chay Wai Chuen
  • Charles Chong
  • Choo Wee Khiang
  • George Yeo Yong Boon
  • Hong Hai
  • John Chen Seow Phun
  • K Shanmugam
  • Lew Syn Pau
  • Loh Meng See
  • Low Seow Chay
  • Ong Chit Chung
  • Peh Chin Hua
  • Peter Sung
  • Seet Ai Mee
  • Wong Kwei Cheong

Retiring candidates[]

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. Rajaratnam 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


Voter turnout was 94.7%, although this figure represents the turnout among the 1,449,838 voters in 70 constituencies to be contested,[1] with PAP candidates earning walkovers in the other 11 which had 219,175 voters.

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
Registered voters/turnout 1,449,838 94.7
Source: Singapore Elections