Former prime minister Goh Chok Tong suggested that it was a health scare that triggered his retirement, in a recent social media post, even though he initially told current PM Lee Hsien Loong that he would prefer to step down from electoral politics “whilst [he was] healthy”.
Hinting that he may not have been totally healthy when he made the decision to bring his 44-year political career to an end, Mr Goh shared that he had a cancer scare sometime last year.
In a social media post published on Tuesday (July 14), Mr Goh revealed that his doctor discovered a white spot on his voice box that could have been benign or cancerous and that he could not undergo a biopsy since he had just had two arteries stented and his blood thinned. Sharing that he made lifestyle changes over the following months to see if there was any positive response, Mr Goh shared:
“Some time last year, my doctor discovered a tiny white spot on my larynx. It could be malignant or a harmless leukoplakia. Early biopsy was considered. My voice was affected. Cardiologist overruled a biopsy as I just had two arteries stented and blood thinned.
“Meanwhile cut off wine, caffeine, curries and durians to see if the white spot would disappear. Follow-up sessions showed a shrinkage of the white spot. Final confirmation was delayed by COVID-19.”
The ex-head of government shared that he saw his doctor on Tuesday and found that the white spot had disappeared. While Mr Goh hinted that this health scare was why he chose to retire, he also said that it was “fortunate” that he stepped down:
“Saw my doctor this morning. Hooray! No more white spot. But too late to reverse my decision to retire as MP. Fortunately. I am enjoying my first week of post-MP life.”
As the question of whether Mr Goh truly chose to retire or was phased out persists, it is interesting to note that he retired at the age of 79 while his predecessor, Singapore’s founding PM Lee Kuan Yew, remained in office until his death at the age of 91.
Some time last year, my doctor discovered a tiny white spot on my larynx. It could be malignant or a harmless…