Singapore—Standing Tall, the second volume of former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong’s biography, was launched only last Friday (May 7), but the Workers’ Party’s Mr Yee Jenn Jong is already questioning one of the statements Mr Goh makes in the book.
The former Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (2011 to 2015) posted a screenshot of a page from Mr Goh’s book on Monday morning (May 10), wherein the Emeritus Senior Minister was answering questions.
On the page, Mr Goh was discussing the reasons why people are reluctant to enter politics, laying the blame on social media as the “No. 1 reason why people do not want to join politics”.
“It is already becoming harder and harder to convince good and highly competent people to come into politics. There are people who would regard this as a calling. They want to do it and they want to contribute to the nation, even with the sacrifices they have to make.
“In today’s context, social media is the number one reason why people do not want to join politics. The loss of privacy was always there, but we could cope with that. We could also cope with a change in lifestyle. If too much financial sacrifice is added to it, it makes it even harder, given the unpleasantness of other factors.”
Mr Yee answered this by writing that the social media environment in Singapore is most likely among “the mildest…in the developed world”.
Additionally, Singapore has a law that combats online falsehoods, the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA), and other legal resorts are “always available to keep things in check”, he added.
Mr Yee then tackled the issue of people’s motivation for taking “the difficult route of politics”.
“We have too narrow and elitist a definition of who we think can be good political office bearers. If this is not changed, you will never find the people you want, and please do not blame the social media.”
He added excerpts from his parliamentary speech on ministerial pay in 2012 to prove his point, arguing that the expectation that political office holders should only come from “a narrow pool of top career performers” is too limiting, but instead, Singapore should welcome people from all types of backgrounds to political careers.
“Perhaps it is also how we constantly look for political talent from amongst a narrow pool of top career performers that has perpetuated lack of interest in political careers amongst the general population. I believe we have been talent ponding for too long, searching from a small pond for people that fit as career elites. We should instead talent flood with people from all walks of life.”
In his speech at the launch of Standing Tall last Friday, ESM Goh said, that the “main objective of doing my biography is to encourage present and future generations of able Singaporeans to serve their country”.
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