by Law Kim Hwee
To read Goh Chok Tong’s latest Facebook post is shocking. Not unlike Trump’s tweets against those he often berates and insults, however much each has been loyal to him over many years – including his “I’d-take-a-bullet-for-Trump” personal lawyer.
We can be pretty certain that claiming Dr Tan Cheng Bock “has conveniently left out ‘For Me’! (yes, cap ‘M’ & ‘!’)” in his call for Singaporeans to come forward to “work together…for the progress of Singapore. For country, for people” is an unequivocal personal attack. A totally needless, unmitigated, uninstigated assault on Dr Tan’s integrity since the latter had spoken only about how the 2016 constitutional change to the Presidential Election and the 2017 Oxley Rd parliamentary debate led him to conclude that People’s Action Party (PAP) is not what it was…(left unsaid) during Lee Kuan Yew or GCT stewardship.
And likening Dr Tan to Don Quixote is no compliment even if the knight is motivated by chivalry. Quixote was deemed to have suffered “from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind” to the extent that he was to “attack imaginary enemies” (tilt at windmills).
And all these from Singapore’s very own, ex-Prime Minister, now Emeritus Senior Minister Goh stooping low, very low his office and hitting below the belt against a friend who, in his own words, he’s “known him close for over 60 years”. Not known him for “close to 60 years” but known him close over 60 years. Such is the value of a ‘close’ 60-year friendship. Young Singaporeans, take note of such a leader and such leadership display.
Well, so much for the incoming 4G anointed PM-to-be Heng Swee Keat’s proclamation that “adversarial politics” is not good for Singapore.
Adversarial politics is in PAP’s DNA – from LKY’s merciless “if you are a troublemaker…it is our job to politically destroy you” (referencing JB Jeyaratnam) to GCT’s lead in 11 and 13 lawsuits against JB Jeyaratnam and Tang Liang Hong in GE 1997 and LHL’s being the first sitting PM to sue a non-politician for defamation (2016) and famously, publicly spoke of “fixing” opposition MPs (not unelected ones) in 2006.
I should like to remind my fellow Singaporeans that much of what we are experiencing and suffering now, which moved Dr Tan to come forth to speak on our behalf, originated from his “close” friend, Chok Tong.
It was Goh who started the “asset enhancement programme” as newly-minted PM in 2001 that resulted in the 4-room HDB price/GNP per capita ratio almost doubling from the 2.32 (1990) he inherited to 4.20 in 2000. (Link, pg 7)
It was Goh who visited India no less than 3 times as PM and in his 1994 first visit, after being suitably marsala-feted as chief guest at India’s Republic Day, returned home “determined to start an India fever”. That fever (apparently negotiated by Heng Swee Keat, then perm sec for Ministry of Trade & Industry) was morphed by him and his successor into the Foreign Talent policy that increased our non-Singaporean population, most with good jobs with
- Chinese immigrants growing from 150,447 in 1990 to 448,566 in 2015, representing an increase of 163%
- Indian immigrants from 14,109 in 1990 to 150,082 in 2015, representing a growth rate as high as 964%.
In 1990, 423,396 non-PRs & PRs made up about 13.9% of our total population. By 2015, the numbers rose to 2,159,979 or 39% of 5.535,302.
By 2016, some 12.6% of non-PRs were non-Work Permit & non-Foreign Domestic Workers (FDW) while 9% were PRs out of a total population of 5.61 million. With about 1.74 million Singaporeans employed (latest available data) and 1.21 mil (12.6 + 9)%, it means that 4 out of every 10 professional (good) jobs are held by PRs and non-Work Permit and non-FDW foreigner.
Does it sadden you to know that much of the issues that tilted Dr Tan Cheng Bock away at not windmills but against the PAP that is no longer the one he knew are Goh Chok Tong’s initiatives? Let’s not forget, Goh is enjoying to the fullest his ministerial pensions, medical benefits (his recent stent ops) etc etc while finding time to set a Trumpian behavioural example towards long-time friends and others who are thinking of standing up to be counted for a more transparent, independent and accountable government.
In a different imagined Singapore not continuously dominated by the PAP for 54 years, a different ex-PM and ESM might have written the following;
“My friend of more than 60 years, Cheng Bock, who I introduced into politics, has given up retirement in favour of serving Singapore in politics (again)!
More younger Singaporeans should draw inspiration fr Bock to step forward to serve our beloved country – whether in govt or in opposition, as long as they have a heart for Singapore.
As an old, old friend, I extend my personal best wishes to Bock in his endeavour. May the party with the better ideas, people and dedication win the baton of leadership for the good and growth of Singapore and Singaporeans all. We are one family! Maju-lah Singapura!
Law Kim Hwee was a candidate in the General Election 2015 and blogs at 2econdsight.wordpress.com