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Will Goh Chok Tong’s son join politics now that his father has retired?

Speculation about whether Dr Goh Jin Hian will join politics grew as he made the headlines last week for a possible breach of his directors duties

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Speculation about whether former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong’s son, Goh Jin Hian, will join politics has arisen after the doctor-businessman’s name made headlines last week.

Goh Chok Tong, who served as Singapore’s second Prime Minister, has two children – a son and a daughter – who are twins. His son studied medicine in the National University of Singapore (NUS) and received an MBA degree from the University of Hull in England.

Dr Goh Jin Hian first carved out a career in the healthcare sector. He took on senior executive positions at Parkway Holdings between 1999 and 2011, serving in prominent roles including President of Parkway Holdings’ Singapore operations, Gleneagles Hospital CEO, Mount Elizabeth Hospital COO, ParkwayHealth COO, and senior vice-president of growth, innovation and strategy.

In 2011, Dr Goh decided to join the oil and gas industry. He told the Straits Times that his decision to exit a familiar field was “a kind of midlife crisis” and added, “Even my own parents thought I was nuts” for wanting to switch sectors.

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Dr Goh left his vice-presidency at ParkwayHealth but stayed on as an executive consultant until March 2015. Between 2011 and 2015, he joined the boards of some oil and gas firms.

In 2014, he took an opportunity with Digiland Intl and was made executive director of the firm in June 2015, after he left his consulting role at ParkwayHealth. Dr Goh became Digiland’s CEO/Executive Director a month later and still holds the top post at the firm, which was renamed New Silkroutes Group Ltd (NSG).

The 52-year-old, who has three young adult daughters, became the Chairman of NSG’s board in July this year. He also serves as the Chairman of cord blood banking service provider Cordlife Group Ltd and as a board member of Shenton Insurance Pte Ltd.

Aside from these organisations, he has held board positions in at least 23 other firms in the past. Developments at one of the firms where Dr Goh served as a director landed him in news headlines last week.

One of the oil and gas firms that Dr Goh joined in 2011 when he felt an itch to move out of the healthcare sector was Inter-Pacific Petroleum (IPP) – a Singapore bunker supplier and bunker craft operator.

IPP began to go under after it was charged over bunkering malpractices in a landmark court case. The firm went defunct after the Maritime Port Authority (MPA) revoked its licenses and the company filed for judicial management at the High Court on 16 Aug.

Four days later, Dr Goh left IPP. It was reported last week that the judicial managers (JMs) appointed by IPP are considering taking Dr Goh to court for breaching his director’s duties which he owed to the company.

IPP’s two largest investors, Maybank and Societe Generale – which are owed USD 88.3 million and USD 81.3 million respectively, are reportedly willing to fund the prospective legal action against Dr Goh. The JMs have asked the High Court to extend the JM Order by another six months so that it can consider taking Dr Goh to court.

Observers responding to the controversy have asked whether Dr Goh’s next move includes joining politics – especially now that his father has retired.

Way back in 2003, the national broadsheet reported that the ruling party was courting Dr Goh to join the party but he was not keen to do so while his father was in power. The elder Goh was Prime Minister at the time.

Dr Goh, who was 35-years-old then, told the Business Times: “I don’t think I’ll go into politics when my dad is still there.”

He added that his father’s colleagues at the People’s Action Party (PAP) had interviewed him for a potential political career but it was his father himself who had dissuaded him from joining the political fray at the time for the sake of his young children.

Dr Goh said: “My dad shares the same sentiment that I shouldn’t go (into politics) at this stage of my life. Like him the family is important to me and I also encourage the staff at work to spend more time with their families.”

The elder Goh retired from politics after 44 years in Parliament this June, ahead of the 2020 general election, although he still serves as Adviser Emeritus to Marine Parade’s ruling party-linked grassroots organisations, Chairman Emeritus of the PAP’s Marine Parade Branch and Senior Adviser to the People’s Association.

It remains unclear whether Dr Goh will follow in his father’s footsteps, now that his father has stepped down from electoral politics.

Goh Chok Tong’s son may be taken to court over alleged breach of duty at Inter-Pacific Petroleum

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