Singapore— In an interview with Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said that he wants to see the ruling political party have a “clear majority” of the seats in Parliament in around 20 years.
When he was asked about what he hopes the political landscape of the nation will look like in two decades Mr Goh said, “I believe that the party in charge must have a clear majority of the seats, meaning – off the top of my head – 75 to 80 percent of seats, then they come across as a strong government,” according to a report in The Straits Times (ST).
This would leave 20 to 25 percent of the seats in Parliament to the opposition. Mr Goh says he hopes that an “intelligent, constructive, critical opposition” would emerge to challenge the Government, the ST report says.
Mr Goh added, ”Then you have a real debate.”
“I hope that there will be a heated debate on national policies, projects and development directions, which I can accept,” he told Lianhe Zaobao.
Mr Goh told Lianhe Zaobao that in his view, the role of the opposition is not one of check and balance, as this would imply that the Government is not doing enough.
He spoke to Lianhe Zaobao about the Chinese-language edition of his biography, Tall Order: The Goh Chok Tong Story, which is scheduled to be launched next week, on June 4, at the country largest book fair at Capitol Singapore.
The Chinese-language edition was written by Peh Shing Huei.
The former Prime Minister wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday, May 26, that he is now working with Mr Peh on the second volume of his biography.
Zaobao interviewed me for the launch of the Chinese edition of Tall Order in June. Please see the short clip of the…
Mr Goh said that if the ruling party only wins a lead of one or two seats, the problem would be that the Government could not do long-term planning, but would focus more on the next polls.
But things would be different with a clear majority, and would enable the government to take the long view.
“If there are 75% to 80% of the seats, you don’t need to worry about the election alone. You can plan for the long run.”
Mr Goh was asked in the interview if he believes that the existing mechanisms need to change in order to obtain the political landscape that he envisions?
He answered, “I think it should not be needed. We have done everything we can to stabilize the mechanism. Gathering districts, government officials, etc. can be called ‘stabilizers.’ That is to say, you can choose someone to replace, but the system will not overturn. So I don’t think that the next 20 years need to change. I don’t know what else is unforeseen, but for now, there is no need to change.”
During his term as Prime Minister, the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) won 83 out of the 89 parliamentary seats at the 2015 General Election.
The ST report called the Lianhe Zaobao interview “wide-ranging,” since it covered quite a number of topics.
He told the Chinese daily that his one regret was the argument his government had with Ong Teng Cheong, Singapore’s former president.
According to Mr Goh, “We did not quite understand each other’s thinking and needs. Had we worked the system a bit better, I think we could have avoided that. Put it this way, the presidency ended on a sour note because of that exchange.”
On the contrary, the proudest moment of his political career was handing the reins of the premiership to current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
According to Mr Goh, after the 2001 General Election, which the ruling party PAP won, he realized that he could start planning the handover to PM Lee.
He said that the country was “in very good shape” when the premiership was endorsed to him by founding prime Minster Lee Kuan Yew.
He said, “Likewise, when I handed over to Lee Hsien Loong, (the country) was in good shape. That was my proudest moment. I had done my job.” / TISG
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