On New Year’s day, former Prime Minister of Singapore, Goh Chok Tong took to Facebook to warn Singaporeans to be “sceptical of any veteran politician‚Äôs practised words”.
He said, “‚ÄúTo serve my country‚ÄĚ is a well-worn out clich√© favoured by politicians, new and old alike.” Adding: “Watching politicians all over the world, including Singapore‚Äôs, pardon me for asking whether that is indeed the true intention of many of them.”
As the sun set on 2018 and we welcome 2019 with a bright new day, my thoughts turn to how I can continue to serve…
Although Mr Goh did not refer to any particular “veteran politician”, several political observers suggested that the former Prime Minister was most likely referring to Dr Tan Cheng Bock who had said a day before that he was retiring from the practice of medicine to serve the people of Singapore.
Dr Tan’s Facebook post on December 31, was his clearest¬†indication yet that he will enter active politics in 2019.
Hanging up my stethoscope After a fruitful 50 years as a doctor, I hang up my stethoscope today for good. Practising…
Dr Tan, a former ruling party politician who lost the 2011 Presidential Election by 0.34 per cent of the vote and was barred from contesting the 2017 Presidential Election,¬†was invited by several members of the opposition in Singapore a few months ago to unite the various opposition parties and lead them to victory against the PAP.
The meeting of the seven opposition parties came on the heels of another meeting where several opposition parties gathering to¬†hear Malaysian politician Chua Tian Chang speak about how the opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan achieved their historic victory in the polls across the causeway during the watershed 2018 Malaysian General Election.
In May, former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad left the ruling party to band the opposition in Malaysia together. The opposition coalition soundly defeated the ruling coalition and toppled Dr Mahathir‚Äôs former protege Najib Razak who now faces corruption charges over the 1MDB scandal.
Calls for Dr Tan Cheng Bock to ‚Äúdo a Mahathir‚ÄĚ resounded after the Malaysian Election. Although Dr Tan was present at the meeting with the 7 opposition parties as an observer, he has yet to give a direct answer on whether he will or won‚Äôt accept the invitation to lead an opposition coalition.
Dr Tan only said at the time:¬†‚ÄúI think I must help but in what capacity, I have not decided‚Ä¶I would regret it if I had the chance to make a difference, but did nothing.‚ÄĚ
In November 2018, social media was abuzz as Lee Hsien Yang met Dr Tan¬†at the famous hawker centre at Blk 726 West Coast Market.
While Lee told the national broadsheet,¬†‚ÄúWe were just here to have breakfast,‚ÄĚ when approached for comment, Dr Tan revealed on his Facebook page that they spoke about the ‚Äúcurrent state of politics in Singapore.‚ÄĚ
While some were derisive and said that they prefer the ruling party’s leadership, hundreds of Singaporeans appealed to Lee and Dr Tan to come together and ‚Äúsave our country‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúhelp Singaporeans‚ÄĚ
In throwing shade at the “veteran politician”, Mr Goh said that his personal goal is to “seek contentment, and not ambition.” And that “On a national level, it is to support our leadership succession to ensure good governance, political stability, social harmony and strong economic growth. It is certainly not to sow disunity and rock the boat.”
In late December, Mr Goh said that he¬†wants to ‚Äúmake sure that there is a strong 5G team to lead Singapore‚ÄĚ in the decades to come.
Asserting that he is a ‚Äústrong believer in managed political succession,‚ÄĚ Mr Goh added that nations, like companies, need leadership succession plans. Likening elections as a ‚Äúthrow of the dice,‚ÄĚ ESM Goh further said that political succession cannot be left merely to elections:
‚ÄúOur lives are being governed by that throw‚Ä¶ I believe each time we throw the dice, it must come up with ‚Äė6‚Äô (the highest number on a dice), which means that political succession is very important for us.‚ÄĚ
Mr Goh‚Äôs latest remarks on playing a part in helping establish leadership succession beyond the 4G team comes as rumours that he will be lifted out of the Marine Parade GRC team in the next election resound.
Interestingly, rumours that 77-year-old Goh will be phased out in the next election comes despite the fact that Goh‚Äôs predecessor and Singapore‚Äôs founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, remained an MP until his death at the age of 91.