The first PAP central executive committee in November 1954, comprising (back row, from left) Tan Wee Keng, Devan Nair, S. Sockalingam, Lee, Ong Eng Guan, Fong Swee Suan, (front row, from left) Lee Gek Seng, Mofrandi bin Haji Mohd Noor, Toh Chin Chye, Ismail Rahim and Chan Chiaw Thor.
Enter the PAP
Mr Lee and a small group of friends – Goh Keng Swee, Toh Chin Chye, S. Rajaratnam, Kenneth Byrne and later Devan Nair and Samad Ismail – started meeting on Saturday afternoons, in the basement dining room of Mr Lee’s home at 38 Oxley Road, to discuss the formation of a political party.
Mr Lee also approached pro-communist unionists lLim Chin Siong and Fong Swee Suan. They too agreed to join Mr Lee in forming the party.
The People’s Action Party (PAP) was formally launched on 21 November 1954 at Victoria Memorial Hall, with Mr Lee as its first Secretary-General. It won three seats in the April 1955 general elections, including Mr Lee’s in Tanjong Pagar. He became the de facto leader of the opposition to David Marshall’s Labour Front-led coalition government.
The PAP was at that time an alliance between the pro-communist left led by Lim Chin Siong and the non-communist left led by Mr Lee. It was, however, an uneasy alliance, with both sides constantly tussling for the upper hand.