The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Singaporean Politicians of all time. This list of famous Singaporean Politicians is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Singaporean Politicians.
With an HPI of 81.67, Lee Kuan Yew is the most famous Singaporean Politician. His biography has been translated into 93 different languages on wikipedia.
Lee Kuan Yew (16 September 1923 – 23 March 2015), born Harry Lee Kuan Yew, often referred to by his initials LKY and sometimes known in his earlier years as Harry Lee, was a Singaporean statesman and lawyer who served as Prime Minister of Singapore from 1959 to 1990, and is widely recognised as the nation's founding father. He was also one of the founders of the People's Action Party, which has ruled the country continuously since independence. Lee was born in Singapore during British colonial rule, which was then part of the Straits Settlements. He attained top grades in his early education, gaining a scholarship and admission to Raffles College. During the Japanese occupation, Lee worked in private enterprises and as an administration service officer for the propaganda office. After the war, Lee initially attended the London School of Economics, but transferred to Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, graduating with starred-first-class honours in law in 1947. He became a barrister of the Middle Temple in 1950 and returned to Singapore, and began campaigning for the United Kingdom to relinquish its colonial rule. Lee co-founded the People's Action Party in 1954 and won his first seat in the Tanjong Pagar division in the 1955 election. He became the de facto opposition leader in the legislature to chief ministers David Marshall and Lim Yew Hock. Lee led his party to its first electoral victory in the 1959 election, and was appointed as the state's first prime minister. To attain complete self-rule from Britain, Lee campaigned for a merger with other former British territories in a national referendum to form Malaysia in 1963. Racial strife and ideological differences led to Singapore's separation from the federation to become a sovereign city-state in 1965. With overwhelming parliamentary control at every election, Lee oversaw Singapore's transformation into a developed country with a high-income economy within a single generation. In the process, he forged a system of meritocratic, highly effective and anti-corrupt government and civil service. Lee eschewed populist policies in favour of long-term social and economic planning. He championed meritocracy and multiracialism as governing principles, making English the lingua franca to integrate its immigrant society and to facilitate trade with the world, whilst mandating bilingualism in schools to preserve students' mother tongue and ethnic identity. Lee stepped down as prime minister in 1990, but remained in the Cabinet under his successors, holding the appointments of senior minister until 2004, then minister mentor until 2011. He died of pneumonia on 23 March 2015, aged 91. In a week of national mourning, about 1.7 million Singaporean residents as well as world leaders paid tribute to him at his lying-in-state at Parliament House and community tribute sites. A co-inventor of "Asian values", Lee's rule has been described as authoritarian, especially in the West. Critics accuse him of curtailing press freedoms, imposing narrow limits on public protests, restricting labour movements from strike action through legislation and co-option, and bringing defamation lawsuits against political opponents. However, others argue his actions were necessary, and generally benevolent.
With an HPI of 70.21, Halimah Yacob is the 2nd most famous Singaporean Politician. Her biography has been translated into 52 different languages.
Halimah Binte Yacob (born 23 August 1954) is a Singaporean politician. She is the incumbent president of Singapore since the 2017 Singapore presidential election.Halimah won in an uncontested election, as no other presidential candidate was issued the Certificate of Eligibility. She is the first female president in the country's history. Previously a member of the governing People's Action Party (PAP), she was a Member of Parliament (MP) for Jurong GRC (situated from Bukit Batok East) from 2001 to 2015 and for Marsiling–Yew Tee GRC (constituency of Marsiling) from 2015 to 2017. She was sworn in the following day becoming the second Muslim president since Yusof Ishak in 1965. She was the 9th Speaker of the Parliament of Singapore from 2013 to 2017, which she resigned to participate in the 2017 Singapore presidential election.
With an HPI of 68.71, Lee Hsien Loong is the 3rd most famous Singaporean Politician. His biography has been translated into 59 different languages.
Lee Hsien Loong (Chinese: 李显龙; born 10 February 1952) is a Singaporean politician who has served as Prime Minister of Singapore and secretary-general of the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) since 2004. He served as the deputy prime minister from 1990 to 2004 and was finance minister from 2001 to 2007. Born in British Singapore, Lee is the eldest son of Singapore's first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew. He studied in Trinity College at the University of Cambridge, graduating in 1974 with a bachelor's degree in mathematics and a master's degree in computer science. In 1980, he earned a Master of Public Administration at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. From 1971 to 1984, he served in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), where he rose to the rank of Brigadier-General. Entering civilian politics in 1984, he was elected as the Member of Parliament for Teck Ghee SMC and since its dissolution in 1991 has represented Ang Mo Kio GRC. Lee served in various ministerial appointments under Goh before succeeding him as prime minister in 2004. In his first two years, his government enacted a "five-day work week" and extended maternity leave days. His proposal to build two Integrated Resorts (IRs) in Singapore to increase tourism revenue led to the development of the Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa. Following the Great Recession, he oversaw the country's economic recovery within two years. Political reforms in 2010 legalised online activism and increased the number of non-constituency members of parliament (NCMPs) in Parliament. His government has advocated Goods and Services Tax (GST) hikes to fund social spending and infrastructure development, with the GST expected to be raised from 7% to 9% by 2025. In 2019, his government introduced the controversial Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) to combat online misinformation. That year, Lee reshuffled his cabinet and promoted Heng Swee Keat to deputy prime minister. In foreign policy, Lee's government's policy has been to stay neutral in an era of great power competition between China and the United States. Under Lee, both the Chinese and Singaporean governments have cooperated on projects, with Lee's government backing China's Belt and Road Initiative as one of its largest investors. At the same time, Singapore has a close defence relationship with the United States, signing the Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA) in 2005 to cooperate on terrorist and cybersecurity threats. Lee's government has had complex and fraught relations with Malaysia, particularly with regard to water supply and territorial claims, although the countries have agreed to work on cross-border projects such as the Johor Bahru–Singapore Rapid Transit System.
With an HPI of 66.44, Parameswara is the 4th most famous Singaporean Politician. His biography has been translated into 19 different languages.
Parameswara (1344 – c. 1414), thought to be the same person named in the Malay Annals as Iskandar Shah, was the last king of Singapura and the founder of Malacca. According to the Malay Annals, he ruled Singapura from 1389 to 1398. The king fled the island kingdom after a Majapahit naval invasion in 1398 and founded his new stronghold on the mouth of Bertam river in 1402. Within decades, the new city grew rapidly to become the capital of the Malacca Sultanate. Portuguese accounts however, written a hundred years after his death, suggest he was from Palembang in Sumatra and usurped the throne of Singapura; he was driven out, either by the Siamese or the Majapahit, and went on to found Malacca.
With an HPI of 66.15, Goh Chok Tong is the 5th most famous Singaporean Politician. His biography has been translated into 41 different languages.
Goh Chok Tong (born 20 May 1941) is a former Singaporean politician who served as Prime Minister of Singapore from 28 November 1990 to 12 August 2004 and secretary-general of the People's Action Party from November 1992 to December 2004. Prior to his prime ministership, Goh served in the ministerial portfolios for trade and industry, health, and defence under Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. He was a Member of Parliament for 44 years, representing Marine Parade SMC for 12 years and Marine Parade GRC for the next 32 years. Under his leadership, the party maintained its continuous rule on Singapore from the 1991 general election to the 2001 general election. Goh's tenure was marked by the 1997 Asian financial crisis and 2003 SARS outbreak. He was succeeded by Lee Hsien Loong on 12 August 2004 and subsequently appointed as a senior minister and chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) from 2004 to 2011.Goh retired from politics and stepped down as a Member of Parliament in 2020 as part of a leadership transition. He is the only living former prime minister and holds the honorary title of "Emeritus Senior Minister".
With an HPI of 64.56, Tony Tan is the 6th most famous Singaporean Politician. His biography has been translated into 44 different languages.
Tony Tan Keng Yam (born 7 February 1940) is a former Singaporean politician and deputy prime minister who served as the 7th president of Singapore from 2011 to 2017.Before entering politics, Tan was a general manager in the Overseas-Chinese Banking Corporation. Tan joined the People's Action Party and became Member of Parliament for Sembawang in 1979. He served in the ministerial portfoliios for education from 1980 to 1991, finance from 1983 to 1985 and defence from 1985 to 1991. He was then appointed as deputy prime minister from 1995 to 2005, which he served concurrently as co-ordinating minister for security and defence from 2003 to 2005. Tan resigned from the cabinet in 2005 and assumed various chairmanship appointments in the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation. He resigned from his positions in 2010 and contested in the following year's presidential election as an independent. Tan won the 2011 Singaporean presidential election in a four-cornered fight and served as president until 2017. He did not run for reelection in the 2017 presidential election, which was reserved for Malay candidates after a constitutional amendment. He is the only living former president of Singapore.
With an HPI of 63.62, S. R. Nathan is the 7th most famous Singaporean Politician. His biography has been translated into 43 different languages.
Sellapan Ramanathan ( ; 3 July 1924 – 22 August 2016), usually referred to as S. R. Nathan, was a Singaporean politician who was the sixth President of Singapore serving from 1 September 1999 to 31 August 2011. Having been elected in uncontested elections in the 1999 Singaporean presidential election and in the 2005 Singaporean presidential election, Nathan was Singapore's longest-serving president. In 2009, Nathan surpassed Benjamin Sheares to become Singapore's longest-serving President. He was reportedly considering re-election, but announced on 2 July 2011 that he would not run for re-election. Nathan suffered a stroke on 31 July 2016 and was taken to Singapore General Hospital's Intensive Care Unit. He died in hospital on 22 August, aged 92.
With an HPI of 61.06, Wee Kim Wee is the 8th most famous Singaporean Politician. His biography has been translated into 29 different languages.
Wee Kim Wee (Chinese: 黄金辉; pinyin: Huáng Jīnhuī; 4 November 1915 – 2 May 2005) was a Singaporean diplomat and journalist who served as the fourth President of Singapore, serving from 2 September 1985 to 1 September 1993. Wee was the Ambassador to the Republic of Korea from 1981 to 1984, Ambassador to Japan from 1980 to 1984 and the High Commissioner to Malaysia from 1973 to 1980 before he was elected by the Parliament of Singapore as the President of Singapore. Former president Devan Nair stepped down from the position and Wee was sworn in on 2 September 1985. For the ensuing initial presidential election, the first in Singapore to be decided by popular poll, Wee decided not to enter his candidacy and retired on the completion of his second and final term as President. Wee died of prostate cancer in his home at Siglap Plain in Singapore on 2 May 2005 at the age of 89.
With an HPI of 59.92, Ho Ching is the 9th most famous Singaporean Politician. Her biography has been translated into 19 different languages.
Ho Ching (Chinese: 何晶; pinyin: Hé Jīng; Wade–Giles: Ho2 Ching1; Cantonese Yale: Hòh Jīng; born 27 March 1953) is a Singaporean business executive and businesswoman who serves as a Director of Temasek Trust since 1 October 2021. She is the spouse of the 3rd and current Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong.Ho first joined Temasek Holdings as a director in January 2002. She became its executive director in May 2002 and was appointed its CEO by then-prime minister Goh Chok Tong in January 2004. As of 2020, she is listed as the 30th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.
With an HPI of 59.21, Benjamin Sheares is the 10th most famous Singaporean Politician. His biography has been translated into 21 different languages.
Benjamin Henry Sheares was a Singaporean physician who served as the second President of Singapore, serving from 2 January 1971 until his death on 12 May 1981. Sheares retired in 1960 and was in private practice before being elected by parliament as president after President Yusof Ishak died on 23 November 1970. Sheares was sworn in as president on 2 January 1971. He originally wanted to retire after finishing his second term as he felt that he did not have the energy for another term, but then Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew persuaded him and Sheares took on his third term as president. He served as president for three terms from 2 January 1971 until his death on 12 May 1981.The Benjamin Sheares Bridge and Sheares Hall hostel at the National University of Singapore are named after him.
Pantheon has 12 people classified as politicians born between 1344 and 1954. Of these 12, 6 (50.00%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living politicians include Halimah Yacob, Lee Hsien Loong, and Goh Chok Tong. The most famous deceased politicians include Lee Kuan Yew, Parameswara, and S. R. Nathan. As of October 2020, 1 new politicians have been added to Pantheon including Parameswara.
Which Politicians were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 4 most globally memorable Politicians since 1700.