Noted socio-political activist Gilbert Goh echoed the views of several Singaporeans as he asserted that the friendship between Tan Cheng Bock and Lee Hsien Yang “provides a ray of hope for Singapore,” in a recent Facebook post.
A career counsellor who runs the transitioning.org support site for unemployed and underemployed Singaporeans, Mr Goh is perhaps most well known for the protests he organises, championing the rights of Singaporean workers.
His most famous protest could be his stand against the government’s 2013 Population White Paper that targeted a 6.9 million resident population.
Goh also has experience working with local opposition parties. He rose to prominence in 2011 when he contested Tampines GRC under the National Solidarity Party ticket in that year’s General Election (GE).
In the 2015 GE, Goh ran as part of the Reform Party’s team contesting Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s own ward, Ang Mo Kio GRC. Goh and his colleagues lost both the 2011 and 2015 GEs.
In a Facebook post published on Monday (8 July), Mr Goh said that Parliament will be interesting if Dr Tan and Mr Lee contest and win a Group Representation Constituency (GRC) together in the next General Election.
He wrote: “The partnership of Dr Tan & LHY provides a ray of hope for Singapore & if they win a GRC together, Parliament will be interesting!”
Dr Tan is a former ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) Member of Parliament (MP) and served as parliamentarian for 26 years between 1980 to 2006. During his time in parliament, Dr Tan became the first non-cabinet minister elected into the PAP Central Executive Committee (1987–96).
In 2011, Dr Tan contested that year’s Presidential Election (PE) and lost by less than 0.35 per cent to establishment favourite and fellow ex-PAP MP Tony Tan. He was barred from contesting the next PE when the government reserved the 2015 PE for Malay-Muslim candidates, months after Dr Tan had announced his intention to contest the election.
Last year, Dr Tan was invited to lead an opposition coalition. Revealing that he had given this serious thought, Dr Tan shared in March 2019 that he ultimately decided to form his own opposition party with other ex-PAP cadres because doing so felt “right” to him.
Mr Lee is the youngest son of Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and the younger brother of current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Mr Lee and his sister, Lee Kuan Yew’s only daughter and middle child Lee Wei Ling, have been entangled in a bitter feud with their elder brother that publicly erupted in 2017 when they accused PM Lee Hsien Loong of using state organs against them.
The younger siblings accused PM Lee of abusing his power to preserve their family home against their father’s willed desire to demolish the house, in order to bolster his grip on power, and of grooming his son Li Hongyi for politics.
PM Lee cleared himself of the charges that his siblings levelled against him in Parliament – an arena where his siblings had no opportunity to speak for themselves.
Despite a ceasefire that the younger siblings offered, the siblings’ relationship with PM Lee seems to have become even more fractured in recent months when the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) initiated action against Mr Lee Hsien Yang’s wife Lee Suet Fern and son Li Shengwu.
In recent months, Mr Lee has been spotted public mingling with opposition politicians. He has been spotted having meals with Dr Tan on two separate occasions. When Dr Tan announced his decision to start his own opposition party, Mr Lee congratulated him.
He wrote in a public Facebook post: “I have known Cheng Bock for many years and he has consistently put the interests of the people first. We are fortunate that he has stepped forward to serve Singapore.
“I only recently learned that Cheng Bock had his first clinic at Ama Keng at the far end of Lim Chu Kang Road, a remote and poor area. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was very close to where I used to serve as a young armour officer at Sungei Gedong.
“Today, Cheng Bock will groom future Parliamentarians who will serve our country and people before party or self. This is good for the future of Singapore. Cheng Bock is the leader Singapore deserves.”
Mr Lee has also made monetary contributions to activists Leong Sze Hian and Jolovan Wham. Mr Leong is facing a defamation suit filed by PM Lee Hsien Loong while Mr Wham was found guilty of scandalising the judiciary, over a comment on social media about the independence of Singapore’s judges compared to Malaysia’s.
More recently, Mr Lee was spotted with local opposition politicians, activists and civil society players like Dr Tan, Dr Chee Soon Juan, Dr Paul Tambyah, Mr Leon Perera, Mr Tan Jee Say, Ms Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss and Mr Leong, at a fundraising dinner that was held last weekend.
Mr Lee’s friendship with Dr Tan, his appearance at last weekend’s event with opposition politicians and his contributions to activists have led many Singaporeans to ask him to contest the next GE as an opposition candidate and defeat the ruling party that is led by his elder brother. -/TISG