In a media interview Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong gave last Monday (27 Jul) at the Istana, where he retains an office, he said he has done a good job for Singapore.
Looking back, he said Aug 12, 2004 will be the one achievement he will tell his grandchildren about.
“My proudest moment was when Lee Hsien Loong was sworn in as prime minister because that was the end of my journey.”
“I kept Singapore going and I handed Singapore in very good shape, pristine state to him, with very beautiful election results. So, a lot of satisfaction.”
“I didn’t tell anybody, but inside: I’ve done my job.”
Even though Goh might have handed over the prime ministership to PM Lee but he continued to stay on with Lee Kuan Yew, PM Lee’s father, in the Cabinet until GE2011 when the PAP garnered the lowest vote share at 60.1 per cent. Both decided to quit the Cabinet in order to give PM Lee a “free hand”.
While Goh felt that he had done a good job, handing Singapore over “in very good shape, pristine state” to PM Lee, many critics noted that he, in fact, might have planted the seeds of current Singaporeans’ disgruntlement against the PAP government when he was the PM:
- “Asset enhancement policy” which in turn gave rise to asset inflation
- Launching the “Foreign Talent Policy” at the 1997 National Day Rally, which resulted in local PMETs being replaced by these “foreign talents”. Many displaced local PMETs actually ended up driving taxis and Grabs to make ends meet.
- Sparking a “mild Indian fever” which culminated the signing of hugely unpopular CECA with India
One of those affected is James Lim, a former PMET who was forced to drive a cab. He wrote on his blog, “With a family to support, becoming jobless at late fifties is a nightmare in Singapore. Unable to find a suitable job, I became a taxi driver. My real life stories may seem trivial and my views may lack substances of a learned professor, but I shall write without inhibition and embellishments.”
“I blog to make a dull job a bit more interesting,” he explained.
In one of his write-ups, Mr Lim got so frustrated with the policies of Singapore government that he advised young Singaporeans to migrate if they could.
He said, “With unabated hordes of foreigners still coming in to depress their (Singaporeans’) wages or even displace them at the workplace, reduce them to second-class citizens and a minority in their own country, how much loyalty and love can we expect from local-bred Singaporean for this country down the road?”
“If you’re a young and educated Singaporean family with valuable skill, I would encourage you to migrate to another country,” he added.