Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong has revealed in his recently released biography founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew asked him to approach his daughter Lee Wei Ling to join the PAP but his son and current PM Lee Hsien Loong was against it.
Written by author Peh Shing Huei, the authorised biography entitled Tall Order: The Goh Chok Tong Story covers Goh’s life until the point he becomes the nation’s second Prime Minister in 1990. A second part is expected to cover the rest of Goh’s life and career after he succeeded Lee Kuan Yew to become head of Government.
Besides writing the foreword and the afterword for the biography, ESM Goh also answers certain questions the author poses in the biography. Peh Shing Huei, a former Straits Times journalist, asks the ruling party leader extensively about his relationship with Lee Kuan Yew and the members of his family.
In the biography, Goh revealed that Lee Kuan Yew asked him to approach Lee Wei Ling to join the PAP since the party was looking for women candidates but Lee Hsien Loong said he was against it, citing that his sister was ‘not suitable’ to join politics:
“When he [Lee Kuan Yew] suggested Lee Wei Ling, it was not because he wanted to push the daughter in. It was because we were looking for women candidates. He was trying to be helpful.
“And Hsien Loong could have said that it was a good idea as he would now have another Lee in Parliament. But he just said no. He did not think she was suitable and he was absolutely right. I was not in favour but I never said anything. I just checked quietly first.”
Goh continued that the reason Lee Kuan Yew suggested his daughter was because she “had very strong compassion for the down and out,” but that Lee Hsien Loong and ex-PAP high flyer George Yeo were against bringing Lee Wei Ling on board:
“She had a very strong sense of justice. Anything which did not seem just to her – she would push. So, he suggested. What did I do?
“Quietly, I sounded out George Yeo. He was chairman of Young PAP and he was politically significant. He said no. Then I sounded out Hsien Loong. Hsien Loong also said no. And that was enough. Then I kept quiet after that.”
On what he said to Lee Kuan Yew about the matter, Goh said:
“I never replied to him. I just went mmm, mmm. Seriously. I had checked with George Yeo and Hsien Loong – both said no. Then I kept quiet, and Lee Kuan Yew also kept quiet. He had given me his daughter’s name and if I did not want to pursue, why should he pursue? That was how we behaved.
“Had he pursued again, I was ready to tell him I had discussed with two politically significant persons and both were against the idea, and therefore, I was not pursuing. I had done my checks.
“It was not that I shunted her out, but I had checked with two people. So, again, I respected Lee Kuan Yew – he never came back on Wei Ling.”
Lee Wei Ling became a top neurologist and went on to lead the serve as director of the National Neuroscience Institute.
Last July, she and her younger brother Lee Hsien Yang accused their elder brother, PM Lee Hsien Loong, of trying to preserve their home at 38 Oxley Road against their father’s last wishes, after his death.
Arguing that the late Lee Kuan Yew wished to have the house demolished, the younger Lee siblings alleged that PM Lee was trying to use the house to solidify his grip on power and that he used state organs to silence them.
The siblings finally agreed to a ceasefire after the explosive allegations gripped the nation, although Lee Hsien Yang’s son Li Shengwu is being sued by the authorities for remarks he made about the Singapore courts, in a private “friends only” Facebook post in which he shared a link to a report about the Oxley Road dispute.
Published by World Scientific, Tall Order: The Goh Chok Tong Story is now available at all major bookstores in Singapore. The biography can also be purchased for $56 for the hardcover version and $37 for the softcover version online directly at World Scientific’s website.