Former Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong underwent laser surgery over the weekend to remove a kidney stone that was somewhat large in size.

79-year-old Mr Goh has been frank on social media about the health issues he faces. On Sunday (22 Nov), he shared online that he had been discharged earlier that day after he was warded at Singapore General Hospital (SGH) to have a sizeable kidney stone removed.

Revealing that he did not suffer major side-effects from the procedure, other than mild nausea and discomfort, Mr Goh wrote: “Had my biggish kidney stone laser-blasted yesterday at SGH. Sharing experience for general benefit of those in similar position. Apart from mild nausea after the GA and slight discomfort of having a catheter and J stent in the urinary tract, I felt fine.”

Revealing that he is scheduled to see the doctor for a follow-up in a few days, Mr Goh added that the procedure he underwent felt like a “non-event” given how much medical technology has advanced.

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Thanking the healthcare professionals who cared for him, Mr Goh wrote: “It seemed like a non-event thanks only to the marvels of medical technology and the expertise of our urologists and anesthetist . Thank you, docs and nurses. Discharged this afternoon. Follow-up review next week to be sure that no stone is left behind.”

He added: “We have a world-class medical service but prevention is always better than cure. To prevent stones from forming, drink plenty of water and watch your diet.”

Mr Goh retired from electoral politics ahead of the election in July, after spending 44 years in Parliament. Right after the election, he suggested that it was a health scare that triggered his retirement even though he initially told current PM Lee Hsien Loong that he would prefer to step down from electoral politics “whilst [he was] healthy”.

Hinting that he may not have been totally healthy when he made the decision to bring his 44-year political career to an end, Mr Goh shared that he had a cancer scare sometime last year when his doctor discovered a white spot on his voice box.

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Revealing that he could not undergo a biopsy to detect whether the spot was benign or cancerous since he had just had two arteries stented and his blood thinned, Mr Goh said that he made lifestyle changes over the following months to see if there was any positive response. He shared:

“Some time last year, my doctor discovered a tiny white spot on my larynx. It could be malignant or a harmless leukoplakia. Early biopsy was considered. My voice was affected. Cardiologist overruled a biopsy as I just had two arteries stented and blood thinned.

“Meanwhile cut off wine, caffeine, curries and durians to see if the white spot would disappear. Follow-up sessions showed a shrinkage of the white spot. Final confirmation was delayed by COVID-19.”

By July, the white spot had disappeared. Rejoicing at the positive outcome, Mr Goh said that while it is “too late to reverse” his decision to retire, it was “fortunate” that he stepped down:

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“Saw my doctor this morning. Hooray! No more white spot. But too late to reverse my decision to retire as MP. Fortunately. I am enjoying my first week of post-MP life.”

As the question of whether Mr Goh truly chose to retire or was phased out persists, it is interesting to note that he retired at the age of 79 while his predecessor, Singapore’s founding PM Lee Kuan Yew, remained in office until his death at the age of 91.

Goh Chok Tong suggests health scare triggered his retirement and that its “too late” to reverse his decision