Singapore—In the country’s political arena, a sea of change is afoot. Prominent leaders of an older generation have said they will not be contesting in next month’s General Election, including ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) stalwart Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, as well as Workers’ Party (WP) MPs Low Thia Khiang, Png Eng Huat and Chen Show Mao.
But the most poignant goodbye this season is perhaps reserved for Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, who spent over half of his life in public service. The veteran politician and Singapore’s second Prime Minister, turned 79 last month and has been a Member of Parliament for 44 years.
ESM Goh wrote a letter to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday (June 23), the same day that PM Lee announced the dissolution of Parliament and the date of the upcoming GE, telling him that he had made the decision “after much thought and with a heavy heart” to not contest in this year’s election. He added that his energy level would not be the same as he entered his eighth decade.
PM Lee’s letter accepting Mr Goh’s decision to retire from the political arena has been made public, and the Prime Minister penned a touching post on Facebook to the Emeritus Senior Minister as well, writing how he is “forever personally indebted” to him.
In his letter to Mr Goh, PM Lee outlined the former Prime Minister’s invaluable contributions to Singapore but highlighted that it was with his work as Marine Parade MP that “he left the most personal imprint on the lives of individual Singaporeans.”
And in his Facebook post, PM Lee noted that the two men “have worked alongside each other for nearly 40 years,” and that the older political leader had stood as “a mentor, colleague, comrade, and friend” to him.
Yesterday I had a good chat with a dear mentor, colleague, comrade, and friend, ESM Goh Chok Tong. We have worked…
ESM Goh had written to PM Lee that while he is still healthy, he has chosen to bow out of Marine Parade as this would ensure a smooth transition for his successor. He also recommended Dr Tan See Leng, one of the PAP candidates introduced to the public on Thursday (June 25), as his successor, noting that Dr Tan “has been understudying” him for almost two years. ESM Goh enumerated the initiatives Dr Tan has taken part in at Marine Parade, and wrote, “I recommend him to take over from me.”
In response, the Prime Minister wrote that he has “glad” that ESM Goh had found “a successor as Chairman of the PAP Marine Parade Branch — Dr Tan See Leng,” and noted that ESM Goh would maintain his connections to Marine Parade, “as Chairman Emeritus of Marine Parade Branch and Adviser Emeritus to Marine Parade GRO.”
Additionally, he announced that Mr Goh will serve as Senior Adviser to The People’s Association on a pro bono basis, and would be retained as chair of the Governing Board of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.
As such, PM Lee wrote, “Singapore will continue to benefit from his insights and experience.”
In a heartfelt Facebook post on Thursday night (June 25), ESM Goh addressed his constituents writing, “Marine Parade will always have a special place in my heart. This ‘MParader’ is privileged and proud to have served as your MP. As our constituency song goes, ‘there’s nowhere else I’d rather be, in Marine Parade with my family’.
To all my Marine Parade GRC residents, thank you for your support all these years. I wish you good health, happiness, and success.
This is au revoir, not adieu.”
I saw PM yesterday to hand him my letter of retirement as MP for Marine Parade GRC. I thank PM for his understanding and…