David Saul Marshall (March 12, 1908 – December 12, 1995) was a Jewish Singaporean lawyer and politician. In 1955, he was appointed as the first Chief Minister of the self-governing state of Singapore (under British auspices), which is equivalent to the position of Prime Minister, but he resigned after just a year.
Marshall was born in Singapore to a Mishaeli family of Iraqi Jewish origin. His original name was David Saul Mishael, but he changed his family name to Marshall when he became involved in public activities under British colonial rule.
Marshall was elected as the first Prime Minister of Singapore in 1955, leading the Labour Front party. However, his government faced numerous challenges, including political instability and difficulties in achieving both parliamentary and international cooperation.
In May 1955, riots erupted in the country, resulting in the deaths of four individuals. In April 1956, Marshall initiated talks with the British government with the aim of granting full independence to Singapore.
However, these negotiations encountered difficulties due to British concerns about communist influences in the country and the release of political prisoners. Consequently, Marshall resigned from the position of Prime Minister, and his place was taken by Lim Yew Hock, who later took a hardline stance against the Labour Front.
Marshall continued to be active in politics even after stepping down as leader of the Labour Front in 1957, as he established the Workers' Party of Singapore. In 1959, he lost his parliamentary seat in the elections. In 1963, after retiring from parliament, he returned to work as a lawyer. Nonetheless, he remained politically active until 1972.
Between 1978 and 1993, Marshall served as Singapore's ambassador to France, Portugal, Spain, and Switzerland. As an ambassador, he consistently advocated for Singapore's interests, despite significant differences of opinion between him and the government officials of that time. He retired from diplomatic life in 1993.
David Marshall passed away in 1995 due to lung cancer.
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