The Reform Party (RP) announced on 10 February 2011 the addition of a new member, Mr Gilbert Goh. TOC catches up with Mr Goh to find out more about his decision to enter politics and his plans moving forward.
by Deborah Choo
When was the first time you voted?
At the age of 34, I think, when I was staying in Pasir Ris. I just got married then.
When did you first come to know of the opposition parties in Singapore?
I knew about them when I was young i.e. around 20s. Nevertheless, I have been a loyal PAP supporter till 2000/2001 when I was jobless for 1.5 years. I didn’t know where to seek help and when I approached the CDC/CDAC, there wasn’t much that was on the table to help the jobless then.
I also had a bad opinion as the opposition parties were rather messy and inefficient then.
Were you actively voting for the past few elections?
I believe that I must have voted at least thrice for Singapore’s elections. I was fortunate as I heard that many people didn’t have the chance to vote at all.
Why did you decide to join a political party this time round and not the previous elections or the one before that? i.e. what’s the significance of this election to you?
I believe that it was a progressive evolvement for me; I started to write to the papers about issues that mattered to my heart, started my own blogs, contributed articles to TOC/TR and finally decided to stand for election if given the opportunity. It was not a sudden snap decision but that the things I did the past few years eventually led me to that decision.
This election is also a bit different from the rest as now we are besieged with the huge influx of foreigners and many middle aged PMETs are jobless. We are also a bit clueless as to what to do with the economy this time round and many people generally suffer from policies that affect their re-employment opportunities and average wages.
What made you finally decide to go into politics? i.e. Was it something you always wanted to do, or a recent decision?
As mentioned above, I think that it was not a snap decision but something that gradually took hold of me. It’s like I did certain things along the way, and the eventual decision to join politics were a natural progression.
If you asked me if I would stand for elections in 2006 – not a chance!
Do you think your past experience running transitioning.org and being unemployed prepared and/or led you to eventually participate in political parties?
There is a certain amount of influence politically while running transitioning.org as I received quite a lot of emails from the jobless community. You can say that I have first hand ground reaction to what’s happening to our unemployed PMETs. I was naturally disturbed by the fact that certain polices are harming the employment opportunities of our local workers e.g. the influx of foreigner workers, lax labour laws and no minimum wage policy. I realized that the public does need a voice to speak out for them. If I don’t stand up, I feel that I would have done them injustice as I have so much insider knowledge of what’s happening to them.
Of all political parties in Singapore, why did you choose the Reform Party (RP)?
I chose Reform Party because it has a mandate of wanting to form the next government – it is very different from other political parties here. I believe that Singaporeans want a party that is brave enough to offer Singaporeans an alternative government. I know that it is a bold mandate but it is something that is necessary.
Did you approach or speak to any other political parties before finally settling on RP? If yes, which political parties / who in particular did you speak to?
I have spoken to National Solidarity Party (NSP) led by Mr Goh Meng Seng before deciding on RP.
In your opinion, what makes RP different from the rest of the political parties?
RP has a unique mandate of wanting a change in governance plus it has a solid youth political movement. I believe that the youth will want to go for a change from the current regime.
Going forward, what do you hope to achieve as a member of RP?
I hope to contribute my ground experience to RP especially in the area of working with the unemployed community.
Are you intending to run for the upcoming elections? If so, tell us more about your campaign proposal and plans you’re thinking about at the moment e.g. what issue are you going to breach to the public?
I will leave the decision to field me as a candidate to my party’s Secretary-General Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam. I can’t comment on your follow-up question as I have yet to sit down with the party and run through the campaign proposal with them.
What is your view on the PAP or the YPAP for that matter?
I believe that the PAP is not really in touch with the ground the past few years. The foreigners’ issue is a thorny one and I personally believe that this will hurt their election campaign a lot. Many unemployed or under employed middle-aged PMETs will be likely switch their votes to the opposition. Younger voters will also not hesitate to cast their votes for the opposition as they feel that the PAP is not really listening to them.
I have no comment on the YPAP as I don’t really know much about them.