Goh Chok Tong
|2nd Prime Minister of Singapore|
28 November 1990 – 12 August 2004
|Preceded by||Lee Kuan Yew|
|Succeeded by||Lee Hsien Loong|
|Senior Minister of Singapore|
12 August 2004 – 20 May 2011
Serving with S. Jayakumar (2009–2011)
|Secretary-General of the |
People's Action Party
2 December 1992 – 2 December 2004
|Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore|
2 January 1985 – 28 November 1990
Serving with Ong Teng Cheong
|Succeeded by||Lee Hsien Loong|
|Minister for Defence|
1 June 1982 – 30 June 1991
|Preceded by||Howe Yoon Chong|
|Succeeded by||Yeo Ning Hong|
|Minister for Health|
6 January 1981 – 31 May 1982
|Preceded by||Toh Chin Chye|
|Succeeded by||Howe Yoon Chong|
|Minister for Trade and Industry|
15 March 1979 – 31 May 1981
|Preceded by||newly created post|
|Succeeded by||Tony Tan Keng Yam|
|Member of Parliament|
for Marine Parade GRC (Marine Parade)
Marine Parade SMC (1976 - 1988)
23 December 1976 – 23 June 2020
|Preceded by||seat created|
|Succeeded by||Tan See Leng|
|Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore|
20 August 2004 – 30 April 2011
|Prime Minister||Lee Hsien Loong|
|Deputy||Lim Hng Kiang|
|Minister for Finance||Tharman Shanmugaratnam|
|Preceded by||Lee Hsien Loong|
|Succeeded by||Tharman Shanmugaratnam|
Goh Chok Tong
20 May 1941
Singapore, Straits Settlements
|Political party||People's Action Party (PAP)|
|Alma mater||Raffles Institution |
University of Singapore
Goh Chok Tong (born 20 May 1941) is a former Singaporean politician who served as Prime Minister of Singapore from 28 November 1990 to 12 August 2004 and secretary-general of the People's Action Party from November 1992 to December 2004. Prior to his prime ministership, Goh served in the ministerial portfolios for trade and industry, health, and defence under Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. He was a Member of Parliament for 44 years, representing Marine Parade SMC for 12 years and Marine Parade GRC for the next 32 years.
Under his leadership, the party maintained its continuous rule on Singapore from the 1991 general election to the 2001 general election. Goh's tenure was marked by the 1997 Asian financial crisis and 2003 SARS outbreak. He was succeeded by Lee Hsien Loong on 12 August 2004 and subsequently appointed as a senior minister and chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) from 2004 to 2011.
Goh retired from politics and stepped down as a Member of Parliament in 2020 as part of a leadership transition. He is the only living former prime minister and holds the honorary title of "Emeritus Senior Minister".
Goh was born in Singapore on 20 May 1941 to Goh Kah Choon and Quah Kwee Hwa, who hailed from the Minnan region of Fujian province in China. He has Chinese Hokkien ancestry. Goh studied at Raffles Institution from 1955 to 1960. He was a very competitive swimmer in his younger days and was given the nickname "Bold".
Goh earned a B.A. with first class honours in economics from the University of Singapore and a M.A. in development economics from Williams College in 1967. After his studies, Goh returned to Singapore to work in the government. Goh's dream of getting a PhD was disrupted as the government would not transfer his bursary bond to the university, where he had signed on as a research fellow after graduation. In 2015, Goh was awarded an honorary LL.D. by his alma mater, the National University of Singapore, for his contributions to the country.
Career at Neptune Orient Lines, 1969–1977
In 1969, Goh was seconded to the national shipping company Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) as the company's Planning and Projects Manager. His career advanced quickly and by 1973 he was the Managing Director. At NOL, Goh worked under the company's founder, Muhammad Jalaluddin Sayeed, with whom he maintained close ties.
Early political career
In the 1976 general election, Goh, then 35, was elected as Member of Parliament for Marine Parade Single Member Constituency as a People's Action Party (PAP) candidate. He was appointed as a Senior Minister of State for Finance. In 1981, he was promoted to Minister for Trade and Industry and later served in other appointments including Minister for Health and Minister for Defence.
In 1985, Goh became the first Deputy Prime Minister and began to assume the responsibility of the government in a carefully managed leadership transition. According to Lee Kuan Yew, his preferred successor was Tony Tan. However, Goh was selected by the second generation of PAP leaders that included Tony Tan and Ong Teng Cheong; Lee accepted their decision.:114–116
Prime Minister, 1990–2004
On 28 November 1990, Goh succeeded Lee Kuan Yew and became the second Prime Minister of Singapore. Lee remained an influential member of Goh's Cabinet, holding the post of Senior Minister. The 1991 general elections, the first electoral test for Goh, led to the party winning 61% of the popular vote. In 1992, Lee handed over the post of Secretary-General of the People's Action Party (PAP) to Goh, successfully completing the leadership transition.
As Prime Minister, Goh promised a more open-minded and consultative style of leadership than that of his predecessor. This greater openness extended also to the socio-economic spheres of life, for instance, in his support for the rise of "little bohemias" in Singapore, enclaves where more creativity and entrepreneurship could thrive.
Goh's administration introduced several major policies and policy institutions, including:
- Non-Constituency Members of Parliament
- Government Parliamentary Committees
- Group representation constituency
- Nominated Members of Parliament
- Vehicle Quota Scheme
- Elected President
- Singapore 21
During the period under Goh's administration, Singapore experienced several crises, such as the 1997 Asian financial crisis, threats of terrorism including the 2001 Singapore embassies attack plot by Jemaah Islamiyah, the 2001–2003 economic recession, and the 2003 SARS outbreak.
As Secretary-General, Goh led the PAP to three general election victories in 1991, 1997, and 2001, in which the party won 61%, 65% and 75% of the votes respectively. After the 2001 general election, Goh indicated that he would step down as Prime Minister after leading the country out of the recession.
During an interview with Time magazine in July 2003, Goh surprised Singaporeans by announcing that his government was openly employing homosexuals, even in sensitive jobs, despite homosexual acts remaining illegal under Section 377A of the Penal Code. Although his announcement drew a strong backlash from conservatives, it nevertheless reinforced his image as an open-minded leader.
Senior Minister, 2004–2011
On 12 August 2004, Goh stepped down as Prime Minister and held a new position as Senior Minister in the Cabinet of his successor, Lee Hsien Loong. On 20 August 2004, Goh assumed the position of Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore. After a number of threats of terrorism in Singapore, Goh met local Islamic religious leaders in 2004 and made a visit to Iran, where he met Iranian president Mohammad Khatami and visited local mosques.
Goh subsequently visited other Middle Eastern countries as Senior Minister, with a view to improving diplomatic relationships and thus gaining wider opportunities for Singaporean businesses, especially in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait.
On 19 May 2005, Goh signed a Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement with Israel's Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a visit to Israel, superseding the agreement signed in 1971. Improvements in the agreement include enhancements to the withholding tax rate on interest income, which was reduced from 15% to 7%. This would benefit Singaporean businessmen with investments in Israel and vice versa, by ensuring they are not taxed twice.
In the 2006 general election, Goh was tasked to help the PAP win back the two opposition wards of Hougang and Potong Pasir. However, he was unsuccessful in this task, as Low Thia Khiang and Chiam See Tong retained their respective wards.
In 2008, Goh was invited to join the InterAction Council of Former Heads of State and Government, an independent international organisation of former world leaders.
On 24 January 2011, Goh announced that he would continue to seek re-election to Parliament at the 2011 general election. Over the following months, he progressively released snippets prior to the election on the importance of grooming a successor who could be part of the fourth generation PAP leadership to helm Marine Parade GRC in the long run.
Emeritus Senior Minister
After the 2011 general election in which the opposition made unprecedented gains by winning a group representative constituency in (Aljunied), Goh and Lee Kuan Yew announced that they were retiring from the Cabinet in order to give Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the rest of his team a clean slate from which they can make a fresh start in the new parliamentary term.
On 18 May 2011, Lee Hsien Loong announced that Goh was to be appointed a senior adviser to the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and would be given the honorary title of "Emeritus Senior Minister".
On 2 August 2018, Goh stated that ministerial pay is not enough and it will adversely impact the ability to attract competent people to join the government in the future. He also dismissed the idea of reducing the minister's salary as a populist move, a move that sparked controversy and public disapproval.
In 2018, Goh's first volume authorised biography book titled Tall Order: The Goh Chok Tong Story was published. It details Goh's life from his childhood to until he took office as Singapore's second prime minister in 1990.
In an interview in 2019, Goh stated that he believed a 75% to 80% majority in Parliament, in the future, would constitute a 'strong mandate' for the Singapore government. In the same interview, he noted that he does not believe the electoral system needed any further tweaking.
On 4 August 2019, Goh made a Facebook post stating that he felt saddened by how his long-time friend, former PAP politician Tan Cheng Bock, had "lost his way" by forming a new political party, Progress Singapore Party (PSP), to contest in the next general election.
In December 2020, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh stated in his Facebook post that he will be undergoing four weeks of radiotherapy following the removal of a lump in his larynx in order to ensure that all cancer cells are eliminated. It was the latest in a series of health scares faced by Mr Goh in recent years.
A second volume of his biography titled Standing Tall: The Goh Chok Tong Years will be released in April or May 2021 to mark his 80th birthday. The sequel consists of the 14 years which Goh was the Prime Minister of Singapore.
- Honorary Companion of the Order of Australia (1 February 2005)
- Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun (24 June 2011)
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Goh Chok Tong|
Goh is married to Tan Choo Leng and they have a son and a daughter, who are twins. Their son, Goh Jin Hian, is a physician and their daughter, Goh Jin Theng, lives in London with her husband.
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- "Standing Tall: Part 2 of Goh Chok Tong's authorised biography out this year". CNA. CNA. 22 January 2021. Retrieved 5 April 2021.
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- "MParader". www.facebook.com. Archived from the original on 28 June 2020. Retrieved 25 June 2020.
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- Impressions of the Goh Chok Tong Years in Singapore by Bridget Welsh, James Chin, Arun Mahizhnan and Tan Tarn How (Editors), Singapore: NUS Press, 2009.
- Brand Singapore: How Nation Branding Built Asia's Leading Global City by Koh, Buck Song. Marshall Cavendish, Singapore, 2011. ISBN 978-981-4328-15-9.
- Article on civil society in the Goh Chok Tong era – "What plants will grow under the tembusu tree?" by Koh Buck Song, The Straits Times 9 May 1998.
- Tall Order by Shing Huei Peh, Singapore: World Scientific, 2018.