Emeritus Senior Minister (ESM) Goh Chok Tong revealed that Heng Swee Keat initially declined to join politics but later “accepted it as a call of duty.”
Speaking to a crowd of about 950 people at the Marine Parade National Day Dinner that took place on Saturday (17 Aug), ESM Goh talked about how it is difficult to attract good people to join politics and painted this as a “national problem” – not just a problem for the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP).
Warning that “the sun must surely set on Singapore” if the nation is unable to attract honest, dedicated and able individuals to join politics, the former Prime Minister said:
“Governing is an onerous and underappreciated task. Many able people who have been approached are not prepared to give up their stable and successful careers for an uncertain and unglamorous political future.”
ESM Goh noted that joining politics would result in a loss of privacy for individuals and their families but urged Singaporeans who are asked to serve to consider the invitation as a “call to do more national service for the country” and an opportunity to pay what Singapore has done for them forward.
He then revealed that he asked Heng Swee Keat to join politics, back when Mr Heng was managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). When Mr Goh, who was MAS chairman at the time invited Mr Heng to join politics, Mr Heng apparently declined the offer.
Speaking at the National Day event on Saturday, ESM Goh recalled that he persisted in urging Mr Heng to join politics after he initially declined and that Mr Heng eventually “accepted it as a call of duty.”
Today, Mr Heng is Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister. The leader of the PAP’s fourth-generation (4G) leadership and the 1st assistant secretary-general of the ruling party, Mr Heng is Singapore’s presumptive future Prime Minister and is expected to take over from current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, after the next General Election.