Following the news of Emeritus Senior Minister and People’s Action Party (PAP) cadre Goh Chok Tong’s retirement from politics after over four decades as a Member of Parliament, The Workers’ Party (WP) chief Pritam Singh took to Facebook on Friday (26 June) to thank him for his service to Singapore.
Mr Singh noted that Mr Goh has, on several occasions, shared his views on subjects such as “the Government’s position on the reserves, how race was employed cynically in past elections by some, amongst other matters” in the Parliament member’s lounge.
He added that Mr Goh has never failed to ask for updates on former WP secretary-general Low Thia Khiang’s condition whenever they met in Parliament, after Mr Low sustained a traumatic head injury due to a fall that led him to be warded in the Intensive Care Unit at a point.
While Mr Singh said that he has his own views on the aforementioned matters Mr Goh had discussed with him, the WP chief said that the discussions signalled “something of the man – the second Prime Minister of Singapore – to engage not just me, but my The Workers’ Party colleagues outside the Parliament chamber”.
Sharing a Parliament anecdote from May 2018 when the Parliamentary session at the time was stopped without a dissolution halfway through the term, Mr Singh said that he was sitting in his “newly allocated seat opposite the Government front bench” feeling “pensive and apprehensive, having just become the successor of former party secretary-general Low Thia Khiang.
“In May 2018, Parliament sat again after it was prorogued halfway during the term. I entered the Parliament chamber early and took my newly allocated seat opposite the Government front bench, waiting for Parliament to open with the President’s address.
“Even though the chamber was largely empty, I was feeling pensive and uneasy, sitting in Mr Low’s previous seat,” he wrote.
It was then that Mr Goh walked in and made eye contact with him, said Mr Singh.
“I got up from my seat to shake his hand. His first words? “Congratulations on your demotion! Previously you were sitting higher up, now you have come down!”
“I appreciated his good humour and it went some way that day to put things into perspective for me,” said Mr Singh.
Commenters praised Mr Singh for the grace he conveyed through his post for Mr Goh and said that such leadership is the kind needed to take Singapore forward.
In a letter to PAP secretary-general and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday (24 June), Mr Goh said that the decision to leave politics was made “after much thought and with a heavy heart”.
“Marine Parade is my second home. I love the people. The PAP Branch activists and the grassroots leaders are my steadfast comrades and firm friends.
“Many have urged me to stand for another term. But I should not. I would not have the same energy when I cross into my 80s,” wrote Mr Goh.