Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong (ESM Goh) seems to have stepped up of late. He has been seen apparently defending the high salaries of Ministers and now, he has stated that the fourth generation PAP leaders dubbed 4G leaders will be in place to lead Singapore in a few years.
As with many of the statements that have been made by members of the government, this declaration of how the 4G leaders will be ready to lead Singapore in a few years time is light in detail but rich in rhetoric. What leads ESM Goh to believe that the 4G leaders will be ready in a few years time? What is the basis for that statement?
Also, why does he think they are not ready yet? Just not too long ago, ESM Goh had been wading in the succession issue in Singapore, seemingly implying that a successor should be identified and announced. Why has he now changed his tune? The inconsistency is disconcerting because it makes one speculate if the government actually has firm succession plans? Or is it simply a case of see how? That is worrying in itself as current prime minister Lee Hsien Loong (LHL) is not getting any younger.
ESM Goh went on to say that Singapore did not need another former Prime Minister to come to its rescue. Clearly, this is a subtle dig at Malaysia's Mahathir who had recently become Malaysia's Prime Minister the second time round at the grand old age of 92.
Is this interview given as a means of making sure that Singaporeans do not go down the Malaysian route at its next general elections? Is it also a means to discredit Dr Tan Cheng Bock?
As most readers would be aware, Tan recently met with opposition politicians sparking speculation that he was going to spearhead a movement to lead the opposition parties against the ruling party at the next general election. ESM Goh made sure to make light of this possibility by quipping: "They even proposed (former People's Action Party MP) Tan Cheng Bock to be my Anwar Ibrahim!" as if the whole thing is a joke!
Predictably, he then went on to pat the government on its back by noting that it "has not done too badly" on international indices in terms of health care, education, housing, social welfare, economic competitiveness and per capita income. He also praised the country's sovereign wealth funds being held up by the Economist magazine for the way they are managed and made mention that despite its small size, Singapore had the 37th biggest economy in the world.
The 2 key factors he cited for this success are a good Government and the unity of Singaporeans. Could this be an appeal for Singaporeans to rally around the ruling party? A reminder that the government has done well and that we should unite around the PAP banner? His choice of language is curious.
ESM Goh may say that Singapore does not need a former PM to rescue it but does the PAP need a former PM to save it? From the way he has recently stepped up, he is giving the impression that the PAP government are indeed spooked by developments in Malaysia and the apparent unity of the opposition parties under the potential auspices of a popular politician in the form of Dr Tan.