Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong’s recent admission that political ambition does not necessarily keep him happy at this stage of his life comes amid persistent rumours that he may be lifted out of his Marine Parade GRC in the next General Election.
In a Facebook post published on Wednesday (1 Jan), the 78-year-old former Prime Minister wrote: “2020, a year for perfect vision. Resolved to watch with clarity, and never to lose my way. You too, should not take the wrong turn. Little pleasures keep me happy at this stage of my life, not political ambition.”
The Facebook post was also widely taken to be a veiled jab at his longtime friend Dr Tan Cheng Bock, who formed an opposition party last year. Mr Goh has previously made digs at Dr Tan and even said last year that his friend has “lost his way” even as Dr Tan has refused to talk about Mr Goh in public out of respect for their friendship.
A member of the People’s Action Party (PAP), Mr Goh became Singapore’s second Prime Minister on 28 November 1990, succeeding founding PM Lee Kuan Yew. He served in the role until 12 August 2004, when he stepped down and was succeeded by Lee Hsien Loong, Lee Kuan Yew’s eldest son.
Mr Goh subsequently served as Senior Minister until May 2011, and as Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). Today, he holds the honorary title of “Emeritus Senior Minister” but does not receive a ministerial salary, despite the title.
ESM Goh continues to serve as a Member of Parliament (MP) representing the Marine Parade Group Representation Constituency (GRC) but there is speculation that he may be lifted out of the Marine Parade GRC team in the next election.
In July last year, ESM Goh said that he is glad that he is “still mobile and healthy.” He has said that he is too busy to retire and that he wishes to “contribute while still alive but without getting in the way of the younger leaders.”
Earlier, in December 2018, ESM Goh asserted: “The last bit that I want to do is make sure that there is a strong 5G team to lead Singapore over the next 20, 30 years. After that, I won’t be around.”
While ESM Goh has maintained that he is too busy to retire, the Chinese daily reported last year: “There have been rumors that the 78-year-old Goh Chok Tong may have to retreat and not participate in the general election.”
The publication added that it is unclear whether ESM Goh will lead Marine Parade GRC in the next election or whether he will be lifted out of the constituency altogether. It reported: “What will be a matter of some curiosity is whether in the coming general election, will Goh still hold the base camp of the Marine Parade?”
Interestingly, rumours that 78-year-old Mr Goh will be phased out in the next election circulate in spite of the fact that Mr Goh’s predecessor, Singapore’s founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, remained an MP until his death at the age of 91.