Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong made rather deliberate remarks at the Chiam See Tong Sports Fund gala dinner, praising veteran opposition politician Chiam See Tong.
ESM Goh was the guest of honour at the event, and during his speech, described Chim as a “well-meaning, decent and honest politician”.
While Mr Chiam was not present at the event, ESM Goh conveyed his best wishes and warmest regards to the former. His wife Lina Chiam, who is a co-patron of the fund, was present.
In his speech on Thursday (August 22) evening, ESM Goh said that Chiam entered politics “not for selfish reasons or because he thought the PAP was not doing a good job”.
“I support the Chiam See Tong Sports Fund partially because I respect Chiam as a well-meaning, decent and honest politician and Member of Parliament. I say this sincerely, not just because of tonight. I think Lina (Chiam’s wife) would know, whenever I saw Chiam, we were able to talk with decorum very well.
Chiam entered politics not for selfish reasons, or because he thought the PAP was not doing a good job. He believed that Singapore should have a two-party system like other liberal democracies, with each taking turns to run a country. On the other hand, I believe that a small vulnerable country like Singapore needs a strong, durable government to protect and advance the people’s interest. Because I think a revolving door kind of government would do us no good”, ESM Goh said.
On resolving political disagreements, ESM Goh added, “So despite our differences in views on the system for Singapore, one dominant party or two parties with revolving doors, each taking turns to govern Singapore, we got on well. Chiam practiced constructive politics. And he helped set the tone for civil, Parliamentary debate in Singapore. That’s very important, constructive, civil debate in Parliament”.
ESM Goh’s comments raised some eyebrows because of their deliberate and pointed nature as earlier in the month, he commented about another veteran politician and former PAP member, Tan Cheng Bock, and how the latter had “lost his way”.
ESM Goh’s comments were especially interesting because, at a press conference last month, Dr Tan had criticised the People’s Action Party (PAP) for an “erosion of transparency, independence and accountability”.
Many have found ESM Goh’s comments especially harsh towards Dr Tan, because the latter was one of three visitors Mr Goh allowed apart from immediate family when he underwent surgery for prostate cancer in 2014.
After his speech at the gala, ESM Goh concluded by saying he was happy to support the Chiam See Tong Sports Fund because he had not yet raised funds for sports, despite having done so for other sectors. /TISG