Goh worried bond between people and gov’t “being loosened”


Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong has sounded a word of caution and warning about the relationship between the people of Singapore and the Government.

Speaking at a dinner event at his GRC of Marine Parade, the former prime minister said that he is worried that the bond between Singaporeans and the Government “is being loosened”.

Mr Goh, however, did not specify why he thought this was so.

However, he likened the relationship of the two sides to that of parents and their children.

“We do not criticise our parents for their imperfections,” Mr Goh said. “We love them, warts and all.”

In Singapore, he said, “we see only warts in the government and freely criticise it for its slightest mistakes or when we disagree with it.”

“This state of relationship between the people and the government is part of the so-called New Normal,” he said.

“But if this New Normal leads to fractiousness, divisiveness and estrangement in the Singapore Family, then we will be undoing what the Pioneer Generation had painfully and diligently built over many decades,” added Mr Goh.

He said that unlike in the past where Singaporeans were clear about where they were headed, “now people are pulling in different directions.”

“We still discuss and debate, consult and engage, Mr Goh said. “But each group is now more assertive than before in pushing its point of view and vested interests. Each side does not want to give an inch without taking a quarter. The common space for Singaporeans is getting smaller instead of bigger.”

He said that Singaporeans need to stand together.

“The government must pass the demanding parental test, which is to help the next generation succeed to the best of their capabilities. But the next generation, too, must pass the family test in building on what they have inherited. They must demand as much of themselves as they do of the government,” he said.

In recent years, many of the Lee Hsien Loong’s Government’s policies have been criticised for leading to societal fractures, including its ultra-pro foreigner policies in immigration, business and employment, which have seen a whopping 40 percent of Singapore’s population made up of foreigners which in turn have led to wage depression, job insecurity, spiral in housing prices and cost of living; and also its confusing stance on social issues such as its position on the anti-gay law, section 377a; and its ever-increasing sum in the Central Provident Fund’s Minimum Sum.

Mr Goh’s words of caution come a week after PM Lee commemorated his 10th year in office, and  a day before Mr Lee delivers his National Day Rally speech.