ESM Goh reveals Ho Ching didn’t say no when first approached to join politics

ESM Goh reveals Ho Ching didn’t say no when first approached to join politics

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 revealed that he did try to ask Ho Ching, presently the second wife of PM Lee, to join politics. But that was before she was married to PM Lee, after Lee’s first wife Wong Ming Yang died shortly after giving birth to their first son, who was born with Albinism.

Goh said, “I did approach Ho Ching and ask her if she would be interested in politics. It was quite early on. She was about 28, 29 or 30, before she married Lee Hsien Loong.”

Goh said he spotted her in Mindef and thought that she had the necessary “intellect and attributes”.

“I knew she was a President’s Scholar, but I didn’t know her well – only superficially because she was in the science part of Mindef,” he added.

“Through briefings and so on, I could see that she had a lot of substance. She would have made a good minister, a different kind of minister.”

Apparently, Ho Ching did not say no right away.

“She did not say no. She said not at this stage. She was still young,” Goh further revealed. That is to say, she was telling Goh that she was open to go into politics later when she was perhaps older.

However, she later decided to marry PM Lee.

Goh said, “After that, I was overtaken by events! She and Hsien Loong got married.”

“As she was part of the Lee family, I never approached her again,” Goh added. “I would not have asked her to be a politician. Hsien Loong would be against it. She would be against it. And Singapore would be against it.”

Last year, Forbes named Ho Ching as the 28th most powerful woman in the world.

In 2016 she was placed 30th and the year before she was 43rd. She has been featured in Forbes’ list of top 100 most powerful women in the world since its inception in 2004.


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