An online exchange between Prime Minister (PM) Lee Hsien Loong and his predecessor, current Emeritus Senior Minister (ESM) Goh has been making waves online, leading netizens to speculate that an internal conflict has been brewing between the two.

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.

Two weeks ago, the Prime Minister commented on ESM Goh’s remarks on 26 Jan 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 last Friday 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!”

Had a good, warm chat with former Iranian Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance, Dr Tayebnia. He is our first LKY…

Posted by MParader on Friday, 2 February 2018

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

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

“Watching” MParader's posts: Touché! 🙂 – LHL

Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday, 4 February 2018

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”: