Goh Chok Tong being formally sworn in as the second prime minister of Singapore on 28 November 1990.

The only way for the seat warmer Prime Minister to rewrite his legacy

Every now and then, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong throws a spanner in the works just to let it be known that he is still around and still relevant in the scheme of things.

But the harsh reality is that he has been sidelined politically for a number of years now.

He says that as ESM, he does not receive a ministerial salary. Not only that – the title of ESM is nice sounding but it bestows him neither clout nor influence in shaping the political landscape.

There is more than an inkling that ESM Goh wishes that he had done things differently instead of ending up in no man’s land. It is surely nagging him that he is known to one and all as the seat warmer Prime Minister.

He gave up his seat to Lee Hsien Loong when he was only 63. In retrospect, he could have gone on for much longer. And in retrospect too, I daresay he would have done a much better job than his successor.

ESM Goh has said a few times now that he does not plan to do a Mahathir because “things are not so bad” in Singapore. Which is of course not the same as saying “things are going great.”

The fact is, Singapore does not need ESM Goh to do a Mahathir.

It is ESM Goh who needs to do himself a favour by doing a Mahathir. It is the only way for him to rewrite his legacy and banish forever the unsavoury reputation as the seat warmer Prime Minister.

For his own good, ESM Goh should attempt a lash hurrah by doing a Mahathir. He could rise beyond being a mere asterisk – sandwiched between father and son – and cement his political legacy by becoming a hero to the nation.