Singaporeans clamor for Goh Chok Tong and Tan Cheng Bock to join forces and ‘do a Mahathir’

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Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong’s latest Facebook post has caused Singaporeans to express their desire to see the former head of government stand against the ruling party in the next election, the same way Malaysian leader Dr Mahathir left his party to unite the opposition across the causeway and topple the government.

This, after ESM Goh posted photos from his 77th birthday bash. Sharing a photo with veteran politician Dr Tan Cheng Bock who attended his exclusive party, Goh alluded to Mahathir’s stunning election victory and said: “Age is just a number, as Mahathir has proven. But it is family and friends who make that number light, meaningful and memorable. Thanks, all my friends out there.”

Age is just a number, as Mahathir has proven. But it is family and friends who make that number light, meaningful and memorable. Thanks, all my friends out there. — gct

Posted by MParader on Saturday, 19 May 2018

92-year-old Dr Mahathir Mohamad made history by defeating the incumbent at the polls and ushering in Malaysia’s first transition of power since independence, at the watershed 2018 Malaysian General Election.

Dr Mahathir, who helped establish the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition in power and served as Malaysia’s longest-serving Prime Minister, stepped out of retirement and left the ruling party to lead the opposition. Breaking the BN’s six-decade long monopoly, Dr Mahathir beat his one-time protégé Najib Razak and became the world’s oldest head of government earlier this month.

When news of Dr Mahathir’s victory broke, ESM Goh congratulated the veteran politician and drew parallels between Dr Mahathir and Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew:

Watching Mahathir fight Malaysian GE14 reminds me of Lee Kuan Yew who famously said, “Even from my sick bed, even if you…

Posted by MParader on Thursday, 10 May 2018

ESM Goh’s post congratulating Dr Mahathir and his latest post touching on how Dr Mahathir has proven age is just a number come a few months after an exchange between ESM Goh and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong led netizens to speculate that an internal conflict may be brewing between the pair.

The exchange between the top politicians began on New Year’s Eve when ESM Goh urged the younger minister to select the next Prime Minister ideally within 6-9 months time, calling this an “urgent challenge” for the nation.

Later in January, the Prime Minister commented on ESM Goh’s remarks and said that leadership succession will “take a little bit longer” than what ESM Goh had hoped. He added, in what appeared to be a pointed comment, that “ESM (Goh) is speaking with the privilege of watching things rather than being responsible to make it happen. I think we know it’s a very serious matter.”

In response, the ESM took to Facebook and posted a comment that appeared to throw subtle shade at the PM’s “watching things” comment.

Posting about his meeting with former Iranian Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance, Dr Ali Tayebnia, the former PM said: “I recalled my two visits to Iran fondly, the first as Prime Minister and the second, as Senior Minister. Both of us now ‘watch’ things happen, and coincidentally share a common title. He serves as Senior Advisor to his President while I serve as Senior Advisor to MAS!”

ESM Goh made a similar reference to the “watching” comment in a subsequent post. Uploading two photos, one of himself and another of an unidentified man, the ESM wrote: “I watch as he ruminates in the calmness of Learning Forest, far from the maddening crowd.”

A few hours later, the PM finally responded by sharing ESM Goh’s post and wrote: “‘Watching’ MParader’s posts: Touché! ? – LHL”

Netizens responding to the unusual exchange appear to largely feel that there is some sort of strain in the relationship between the nation’s current and immediate past Prime Ministers.

One netizen wrote, “Using FB to get a message across between a former PM and the current PM reflects a strained relationship that requires some patching up. Hopefully, we don’t end up watching more things happening,” while others have criticised the leaders for being “childish”:

Facebook exchange between PM Lee and ESM Goh cause netizens to believe internal conflict is brewing

ESM Goh’s posts touching on Dr Mahathir’s success have caused netizens to call on him to ‘do a Mahathir’ and join the opposition camp to fight the incumbent. Both men share similarities, having been Prime Ministers of their respective nations in the past. At 77, ESM Goh is 15 years junior to Dr Mahathir as well.

These calls come after Dr Mahathir’s historic win prompted many Singaporeans to express their desire for Dr Tan Cheng Bock to achieve something similar by contesting the next election from the opposition’s camp:

Singaporeans wish Tan Cheng Bock will follow Mahathir’s lead and contest the next GE as an opposition candidate

The inclusion of a photo with Dr Tan in ESM Goh’s latest Facebook post have prompted many Singaporeans to call on ESM Goh to join forces with Dr Tan to achieve a win against the ruling party.

Both Dr Tan and ESM Goh have been noted to be close. In 2014, ESM Goh underwent a major surgery and Dr Tan was one of just three visitors who were permitted to see the ESM apart from his immediate family.

Describing Dr Tan as a “very close friend”, ESM Goh later wrote on Facebook: “I also had an almost hour-long chat with Tan Cheng Bock, my very close friend from school. We talked about mutual friends, health issues and families. Thanks, Bock. I am glad to see you in good health and keeping yourself busy.”

In one of his most recent comments about Dr Tan, ESM Goh had said when Dr Tan announced his intention to contest the last Presidential Election that Dr Tan’s decision to announce his bid for presidency before the election can be seen as a “calculated political gambit” that is open to interpretation.

ESM Goh had said then, in 2016, that Dr Tan – who had lost the 2011 Presidential Election by just over 0.3 per cent of votes – was perhaps politicising the process by announcing his intention to contest the 2017 presidential race as a Constitutional Commission was reviewing the eligibility criteria for candidates at the time.

Speaking to reporters then, ESM Goh said: “His move was a calculated political gambit and, of course, it is open to many interpretations or even misinterpretations. One could interpret his move as coming from someone who is ambitious, as making a move to be president, or it could be to discourage others from coming in.

“Last time, there were four candidates and he nearly won, (he) lost by a small margin. So if you can discourage others from coming in, it’s a straight fight, then you will have a better chance.”

He added that another view could be that his friend could be “rallying the ground to support him”. He said: “Once the ground supports him, it may make it more difficult, he thinks, for the Constitutional Commission to come up with criteria that may disqualify him. This is speculative, of course.”

ESM Goh added: “I know how the Government thinks, we plan ahead to ensure there will be a stable, fair and contestable system that will stand Singapore in good stead. And the system must enable good candidates to contest for president.

“But the commission is still reviewing the process. By coming out now and risking being misunderstood that you are trying to influence the commission’s working, in a way, he has been politicising the process.”

Interestingly, ESM Goh also reaffirmed his friendship with Dr Tan during the same interview and said that he was not surprised by Dr Tan’s announcement: “Indeed, he is an old friend. I’ve known him for over 55 years. What he did was in keeping with his character. Once he has decided to do something, (he) will do all he can to achieve that goal.”

“In the past, we would have spoken to one another. But after the last presidential election, he was and will be on his own.

“We are still very good friends, still go out with each other, but I will not try to influence him…I will just wish him good luck.”

Despite ESM Goh’s assertion that Dr Tan “will be on his own” after the 2011 Presidential Election, Dr Tan’s appearance at ESM Goh’s intimate 77th birthday party has turned heads.

Netizens are now calling on the two politicians to put aside their differences and come together for the good of the nation, like Mahathir did with opposition coalition partners across the causeway:

Is Dr Tan Cheng Bock hinting at a political comeback with his latest Facebook post?

109 COMMENTS

    • Age will be just a number and never an issue if only when one is as coherent as Dr Mahathir. There are secrets to such quality longevity. I have uncovered and discovered some and using myself as guineapig. So far so good at 71, jumping around as a volunteer fitness instructor. See me in action at KTPH wellness centres in Yishun.

  1. One of Singaporeans’ pet angst against the ruling party is the ceca agreement with India which led to the tsunami of Indian pmets. Most blame Pinky for it because he signed the agreement in his 2nd year as PM. Yet most have forgotten the agreement was initiated years before under the leadership of GCT. In fact LHL wasn’t even present at the 2003 singing of the ceca declaration of intent. GCT and George Yeo fronted it. It’s a stretch to believe this debacle is solely LHL’s cross to bear and imagine GCT is a potential saviour for us from the current regime.

    • To be fair, the govt did create a fair employment framework to control the influx of Indian and other foreign PMETs. In 2017, review of the CECA agreement was delayed because the Indian govt felt Singapore was unfairly curtailing Indian PMETs down to a “mere trickle“…against terms of this agreement.
      That said, the damage in terms of public unhappiness and mistrust of the govt`s intentions was already done and stemming the tide alone may not be enough to appease citizens. Tightening workpass renewals must certainly be considered as well.
      From the beginning, both countries went into the arrangement with the understanding it wasn’t exclusive…India and Indonesia are negotiating bilateral comprehensive economic agreements deals similar to the Singapore – India one. And likewise Singapore is in talks with other nations. What is highly unlikely though is they will make the same concessions for PMETs after the strong public push back.
      Where our govt has really dropped the ball is ensuring Singaporeans have at the very least, a level playing field in Singapore’s job market. Allowing foreigners to slip in without ensuring their degrees and qualifications are bona fide or at par with local universities retards salaries at best and robs jobs from locals.
      But the point is GCT is the architect and planner of this and other funky policies…so don’t suggest he’d be any better than the current crop of pappies.

  2. I understand we Singapore are so desperate, suffered too much under the draconian rules of the PAP; we clamour for a saviour someone like Tun Mahathir. But to expect people like Goh Chok Tong and Tan Cheng Bock I think we are getting ourselves too silly

    • Jeff, it is alright to take the approach of ‘slow and steady wins the race’. However, this has proven to be the SURE way to our dreadful ‘imprisonment’ by the government. It is impossibly stupid to continue to allow the government ministers to gouge on us for millions of dollars in their salaries and then do NOTHING wholesome but put in more PAP laws to DENY US OUR RIGHTS AS CITIZENS! This is CRIMINAL! We have been denied since 1959! Yes, LKY conned us into trading off our rights for economic prosperity. Sadly, the overwhelming majority of Singaporeans are NOT rich but basic wage earners. The WEALTH of our nation was in LKY’s and now LHL’s hands! Yet, they are ONLY politicians! From politics to riches! How is that so??? NO guessing. Corruption! This is The Plain Truth! The Men In White are CON ARTISTS! The facts are out in the public so I will NOT need to elaborate. I’d say: Let’s do the ‘Pakatan Harapan’ and vote out the PAP, the PESTS AND PARASITES! Thereafter, investigate the PAP as the incoming government are investigating Najib and his gang now. I know that my post will shock many. But, would I lie to you? Say nice things but have no basis in reality? Speak the truth, call it as it is and be NOT afraid. I’d continue to take the blows and NOT kowtow to the government. The blows of having our Dignity and Human Rights taken off us and then dictated to by the PAP laws. This must stop! Although FREEDOM is the crux of the matter I’d always be ADAMANT that Freedom from Hunger and Want must be our First and Foremost objective. And, yes, time is running out for us. The PAP have been in power since 1959 and they have long OVERSTAYED their welcome. Yes, the PAP have done some good. But, it is UNDENIABLE that they are EVIL in the way they destroy their political opponents and even the citizen activists! Again, We Must Bring These PAP Criminals To Justice! NO Fear. NO Favour. NO Compromise. The government must do our bidding and NOT dictate terms and conditions and tell us how to live our lives! PAP OUT!

    • Daniel, thank you for the lengthy post. You are absolutely right. We have to kick them out alright. However, I lack the faith in our fellow countrymen in doing it. I feel that they need some sort of reassurance and a farmiliar face from the PAP camp to boost their confidence. Just need to have someone whom they know team up with oppositions to have that compromised effect. It way better than no change don’t you think?

  3. Singaporeans esp the 70% ,are always waiting for others to do the fighting for them. They have become lazy and complacent. When are they going to grow some balls and do it themselves. They have had plenty of opportunities at the polls to take action like our Malaysian brothers and sisters but they rather give excuses. We have very qualified and capable people in the opposition. Just go and vote them in., You don’t need Tan Cheng Bok and you certainly don’t want Woody Goh.

  4. The people of Malaysia believe the time is right to change the government they don’t believe in, and Tun Dr. Mahathir rises to the occasion to become an unprecedented powerful catalyst to the entire team of lawmakers made up the 4 parties. Singapore will never come up with our hero in Tun..never be..at 93.

  5. Difficult as this may sound, but “hope is the substance not seen” We need to dream and hope that a unifying force like Dr. M will come forward to dethrone the ruling government. I refuse to believe that PAP is so entrenched that it’s impossible for a new government that is really more inclusive with thd people’s at heart and NOT just talk and lip service. Can a leopard change it’s spot? If your conclusion is the same as I, then we must all hope and strive to replace this government comes GE2020/1.

  6. For Dr. Tan C B, you re a respectable, and principled gentleman. You were once a part of the establishment which is now led by a person with many failed policies. Would you not do National Service for your country man by offering yourself. God’s willing.

  7. Guys…why like that. 70% of Singaporean love the PAP Gov. They did such a good job and screwed us so well, we should all be in ecstasy right now and asking for more. Please dont change the gov. We all deserved our gov so so much. Be thank you hor.

  8. Guys…why like that. 70% of Singaporean love the PAP Gov. They did such a good job and screwed us so well, we should all be in ecstasy right now and asking for more. Please dont change the gov. We all deserved our gov so so much. Be thankful hor.

  9. We don’t have to do an exact ‘Mahathir’. But we do need to combine forces. If each opposition still stick to their own guns then we can all go home and wash our own backside. What we do need is a real heart for the nation and for its people. And a people for the nation. When the situation arise, the right people will emerge, not withstanding we’re a small red dot.

  10. Dear Mr Goh, remember your promise when you were PM? You envisioned Singapore as a country with a Swiss standard of living and a refined culture of its people with arts and self-actualisation as the order of the day? I think about this everyday especially whenever I see educated Singaporeans who speaks excellent English cleaning up coffeeshop tables, rummaging the dustbins in the middle of the night and even eating off remnants from meals abandoned by foreigners dinning at our eateries. How terrible this vision of yours have dissipated into what it is today. Singaporeans are suffering unnecessarily and those who heard your voice then and had hoped for the Singapore Dream are being held ransom in so many ways. We now watch foreigners, who can hardly speak and write the language of international business take over their places at banquets and fine-dining restaurants while we become servers. Doesn’t our years of solid education and experience worth much more than what these people have to offer? We have seen too many policies which are totally unacceptable because the motivation behind them are unethical and immoral and hurt Singaporeans while benefiting foreigners. But the one that took the icing was the suggestion that HDB flats are actually worthless when they reach 99 years. As an economist and the PM instrumental in building up most of our assets, I am sure you too would be shock to hear these words coming out of people whom we have entrusted to safeguard our future. There must be an end to this madness and to the dismantling of all that have been carefully crafted by the previous party members to make Singapore what it was. It takes just one lousy person to destroy everything we hold dear – including the name, “PAP”. Please be responsible. Please do something. Singaporeans cannot do anything because we are being held ransom.