ESM Goh: Hsien Yang has private sector’s experience while Hsien Loong has none

Source: Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Hsien Loong Facebook account.

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong’s authorised biography, titled ‘Tall Order: The Goh Chok Tong Story’, is now on sale in Singapore’s bookstores.

Written by former Straits Times journalist Peh Shing Huei, the book tells the story of ESM Goh’s life and career, from his childhood until he takes office as Singapore’s second Prime Minister in 1990, succeeding Lee Kuan Yew.

In the book, ESM Goh related how he did think of inviting PM Lee’s brother, Lee Hsien Yang, to join politics.

“But I did not recommend him because I think he (Hsien Yang) would be outshone by his brother (Hsien Loong),” Goh said.

Goh didn’t think it was a good idea to have too many members from the same family in the Cabinet.

Excerpt from ESM Goh’s book

“Having two brothers in Parliament was okay – Bernard Chen and Kenneth Chen, at one time. But in Cabinet, how could I succeed as a PM if the father was there, the elder son and the second son too?” he recalled.

“Nobody would believe I am my own man, isn’t it? With three – what chance would you have? I mean, that was how people would think, not knowing we are different individuals.”

Still, ESM Goh thought that Hsien Yang’s experience in the private sector is one up when compared to PM Lee, who does not have any.

“Hsien Yang, had he come in, he would be different from the brother,” he opined.

“These are not yes-men. You see the situation now, he is fighting the brother.”

Goh continued, “He (Hsien Yang) would be a different individual with different qualities.”

“His value would be – had I been interested, and that was later on – experience in private sector. Hsien Loong did not have it,” he added.

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