Why ESM Goh Is Not An Overstayer?
Recently, Tan Jee Say told the media during the introduction of SingFirst candidates that ESM Goh Chok Tong is an overstayer in this election. It is not only wrong but unfair to the man who served as the second prime minister of Singapore.
ESM Goh Chok Tong has been in politics since 1976. For nearly 40 years, he has been serving in various key roles such as Senior Minister of State for Finance, Minister for Defence and Minster of Trade and Industry before becoming Prime Minister. He has a wealth of experience that few could match.
Indeed, the past 40 years was not smooth sailing as several challenges confronted Singapore. There were at least 3 economic recessions (1985, 1997 and 2001) and a major disease outbreak (2003 SARS crisis). It was Mr Goh Chok Tong and his cabinet colleagues who were closely involved in tackling those challenges that helped brought Singapore out of those dark moments.
His years of leadership in those years of crises make him an undisputed choice to assist PM Lee to mentor the next generation of leaders. It is indeed Singapore’s good fortune that he is still willing to stand for election again when he could already retire. His passion and dedication to Singapore is truly admirable.
Frankly, it is becoming more difficult for me to take Tan Jee Say seriously. Calling ESM Goh an overstayer is simply disrespectful. After all, Tan was ESM’s principal private secretary for five years. The only decent thing a former subordinate could do is to show some bit of respect for a former superior. Where is Tan Jee Say’s basic courtesy towards his former boss when he called him an “overstayer”?
More importantly, Tan Jee Say is an attention-seeker only interested in his personal political agenda. By calling ESM names, he is able to draw more media attention to himself and his fledging political party. His attention-seeking streak goes way beyond that episode. He tried to run for Member of Parliament in the 2011 general elections, gaining extra prominence because he was the former principal private secretary to ESM Goh and someone whose economic plans was endorsed by a senior civil servant in UK. When he was unsuccessful in his bid, he promptly resigned from the Singapore Democratic Party to run in the 2011 presidential elections. It was clear to me back then that there was not an iota of commitment in this man to either the SDP or the residents of Holland-Bukit Timah GRC. All he had in his mind was to have a platform to bring fame and glory to himself. After 2011, he has been making numerous appearances in Hong Lim Park criticising the Government but not offer any practical solutions except to keep spending more and more. He has now set up his own political party with policy proposals centered on spending money derived from unguaranteed expected returns from investing Singapore’s returns.
The onus is on voters in a democracy to exercise due diligence to examine what each and every political party is saying. I believe that the record speaks for itself. ESM’s lifetime of service to Singapore is evident to all Singaporeans. There is no need for us to take a political opportunist seriously.