Then, Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam (known popularly as JBJ) took over the party reins in 1971.
Low Thia Khiang, a part of the Singaporean-Chinese majority, came in 1988.
And today, we have Pritam Singh – a Sikh.
The WP’s elected leaders show a true triumph of Singapore’s prized values or meritocracy, in a fair challenge “regardless of race, language or religion”.
Singh’s appointment has been largely well-received, as opposed to the election of Singapore’s President, Halimah Yacob.
Mdm Halimah, a capable and well-liked individual in her own right, had her presidential campaign marred by politicking.
Accusations abound that the PE2017 was “rigged” in her favour, and Mdm Halimah, a public servant for the whole of her career, was the only candidate deemed qualified to contest over successful businessmen from the private sector.
Much as the government tried to explain that she was “elected” rather than “appointed”, the Singaporean public didn’t buy it.
Singaporeans, didn’t buy as well the idea that Mdm Halimah’s “victory” in the presidential elections was a triumph of meritocracy, much as they had respect for her.
Pritam Singh’s election as WP secretary-general, however, is a sign that meritocracy is alive and well in Singapore.
Starting out as a simple party member, he rose through the ranks to become the WP’s assistant secretary-general, before being elected as party chief.
And, he was well-received by WP supporters of whom come from the majority Singaporean-Chinese populace.
In contrast, the PAP-led government maintains that Singapore is not ready for a prime minister from a minority race group, despite Deputy Prime Minister receiving overwhelming support from Singaporeans to lead the nation.
DPM Tharman, to his credit, has in his own noble and dignified manner, publicly refused to toss his name into the hat for Singapore’s next PM.
Observers may mutter that Pritam Singh’s appointment is simply show-boating by the WP to show-up the PAP.
But, history has shown that the WP and its cadres have always been colour-blind when it comes to selecting the best man (or woman) for the job.