Tall Tale Goh Chok Tong; Straits Times

Former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong has just published a book with numerous tall tales, aptly titled “Tall Order”, today (Nov 1). Among his fake claims is a main drive to whitewash his stained political pet name “seat warmer”, given by his peers and the Singaporean public.

In his book written by a former state media reporter, Emeritus Senior Minister (ESM) Goh Chok Tong vehemently denied that he was made Prime Minister by Lee Kuan Yew so that the Singapore dictator can pass the premiership to his son Lee Hsien Loong:

“It was interaction and confidence in (Lee Kuan Yew). If I suspected that he was just putting me to be a seat warmer for his son, and just for two, three years, what is the point? Then I would have said ‘let us find a way for Lee Hsien Loong to take over from you’. There was no need to have me. There was no point.”

Despite ending up passing the premiership to Lee Hsien Loong, ESM Goh Chok Tong insisted that he had the calibre to be Prime Minister and that he does not care about being called a “seat-warmer”:

“But I never worried about the seat warmer joke. In my heart, I knew that Lee Kuan Yew never meant for me to be a seat warmer. Politicians must have some thick skin and be able to laugh it off because in my view, that is not what Lee Kuan Yew regarded me as. You must have self-respect.

If Lee Kuan Yew used me for his own purpose, then what is the point for me? History would laugh at you, isn’t it? I have the self-confidence. I was prepared to do the job and I knew he was honest with me, my strengths and weaknesses.”

State media Straits Times published snippets of the book in an article, as a free advertisement for the PAP Minister. The article also revealed how the ruling party government fixed the opposition by refusing to hand over the community centres even after losing in the elections. ESM Goh Chok Tong passed the blame to senior PAP leaders, pointing fingers at them for fixing the opposition using underhanded tactics:

“We called a meeting of all MPs and the question was: What do we do now in Anson? Do we continue to run the community centre (CC) in Anson or do we pass it on to JBJ? I felt that we should pass the CC to JBJ. And many of the young ones felt so. I thought we should be fair – he had won, so pass everything on to him. LKY never scolded us but he asked the older ones. And they said no, we do not pass on. We keep it, this is our base. You pass it on to him, he would be entrenched and we would never win Anson back again. This cannot be done. So, you learn. Yet, what is the reason to justify keeping it? (The) CC is part of the government – you do not pass on part of the government to the other side. We young naive ones thought the CC was part of the constituency’s institutions and we had to pass it on. The older ones said, no.”

In the book, ESM Goh Chok Tong also taunted the opposition, and revealed his gross dislike for Opposition members like Low Thia Khiang and Dr Chee Soon Juan:

“Q: Would you be friendly with long-time opposition MPs like Chiam See Tong and Low Thia Khiang too?

A: I regard Chiam as a friend.

Q: As a friend?

A: As a friend, yes. I have seen him at dinners outside. He would come to me and I would go and talk to his wife and so on. If I see the wife, I would ask her how Chiam is. He was a gentleman politician. He had his own purpose in politics, which is to create a two-party Parliament. There is nothing wrong with that. We did not like it, but we said you try, so he tried.

Q: Would that be the same towards Low?

A: It is the same with Low. In fact, with most of the people, it is the same thing. We always watch. What is the purpose, their aspirations, their goals and would they bring Singapore down? Or would they be just difficult opponents for us? Then we got to be better than them. So, if they are honest and honourable and want to do good for Singapore even though it is in a different way, well, we can have a debate on that.

But if your views are totally wrong in our view, like promising a welfare state and using the reserves, then we would fight you. We would fight you tooth and nail on your wrong-headed and populist approach.

Q: So who would be someone whom you would not speak to?

A: Chee Soon Juan.”