On Behalf of
The People’s Action Party
May 8, 1959 — Radio address on behalf of the People’s Action Party, Singapore
Our society is still built on the assumption that women are the social, political and economic inferiors of men. This myth has been made the excuse for the exploitation of female labour. Many women do the same kind of work as men but do not get the same pay.
. . . women and their families must be protected against . . . husbands who treat their wives as chattels and abandon their children and families without any thought for their future . . . We believe that women can make a valuable contribution to our political life. We believe that they can work with men in helping to remould the political future of our country.
The PAP supports the principle of equal pay for equal work. But we also face facts. We realise it can be achieved only gradually. But the PAP will do its best to see that women workers are paid a fair wage and are not exploited. We shall also introduce legislation allowing men to have only one wife except in the case of those, like Muslims, whose religious beliefs permit polygamy. Women and their families must be protected against unscrupulous husbands who treat their wives as chattels and abandon their children and families without any thought for their future.
The PAP is the only party to have paid attention to the problems of human rights. We believe that women can make a valuable contribution to our political life. The PAP has done more than just talk. We are fielding five women candidates in the election — among them the only Malay woman candidate . . .
For years we have watched bogus politicains calling themselves Progressives, Democrats, Liberal Socialists, Labour Party, Labour Front and the Singapore People’s Alliance — clown and buffoon on the political stage. They form, dissolve, and reform just as our children play party games. They change their beliefs and labels as easily as our daughters change their party frocks. The things they say and expect us to believe this week and forget next week are an insult to our intelligence. Let us show them that Singapore women are tired of their pantomime and buffoonery.
I appeal to women to vote for PAP. It is the only party with the idealism, the honesty and abilyt to carry out its election programme.
Source: Lee Kuan Yew: Blazing the Freedom Trail, Exploring the Leadership of Singapore’s First Prime Minister from 1959 to 1990, by Anthony Oie, (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish International) 2015.