Home > PAP candidates > MM Lee & SM Goh to retire from Cabinet

MM Lee & SM Goh to retire from Cabinet

The news caught everyone by surprise. What is even more surprising is the statement was jointly issued by MM Lee and SM Goh. The PM is expected to issue an official statement next week. But what does this means for Singapore?

Firstly, let’s all pay our respect and thanks to the first and second prime ministers of post-independence Singapore. They are admirable to have lead Singapore to the current first world economic status. While nation building is still an on-going process, let’s analyze the reasons and consequences of this arrangement.

Renewal came at a cost for voters of Ang Mo Kio and Tanjong Pagar GRC:

During the GE, MM Lee and SM Goh were the heavy weights that stands in Tanjong Pagar GRC and Ang Mo Kio GRC. While there was a walkover in Tanjong Pagar, it is obvious that SM Goh is the only heavy weight that pulled in enough voters to vote the ruling party into a win in Marine Parade GRC with a marginal win of ~56%. Now that SM Goh has decided to leave the cabinet after winning the Ang Mo Kio ward for PAP leaving behind all those free riders on his coat tails, I don’t think it is fair for the voters. What would Aljunied voters and supporters of Workers’ Party feel if Low Thia Kiang leaves the execution committee of WP right after the election? If voters were to be given another chance to vote without the presence of MM Lee and SM Goh, would the results be different? This highlights what I have been saying in my previous post. If the ministers and PAP logo are removed from the equation, the new PAP candidates do not appear significantly better than opposition candidates.

Leaving politics with dignity:

Call it a bias statement but I think it is highly dignified to leave politics after a GE win for PAP. It is a fact that MM Lee is already 87 years old. It is very hard to predict whether he will still be healthy enough to be in politics for the next 5 years. Leaving the political scene while they are still healthy ensures that the country will not be in for a rude shock should anything (touch wood) happens to our experienced leaders for the next 5 years.

Another reason might be the many ‘own-goals’ MM Lee and SM Goh had delivered to the last election, especially on MM Lee’s statements on the Malay race in his book ‘Hard Truths’ and SM Goh’s many statements that suggest that George Yeo is better than the Transport and Housing ministers, and Tin Pei Ling being the ‘weakest link’ that result in his less than desired voting rates for GE2011 in Marine Parade.

Moving forward, renewal and listening to ground feedback

Leaving the cabinet allows new faces to really showcase to the citizens. For much too long, Singaporeans have been listening to and paying attention to MM Lee and SM Goh. While they are indeed experienced and a great asset to Singapore, staying in cabinet will means that the new faces cannot shine. Even though they are technically not a full minister, remaining as mentors means their presence and influence would continue to perpetuate the entire government.

MM Lee’s influence and assertiveness in parliament goes without saying. Even if ministers like George Yeo had disagreed with certain party policies in the past, they were unable to bring about real change due to the psychological and influential barrier that MM Lee and SM Goh had. This is hardly surprisingly even the relatively strong statements George Yeo and Lim Hwee Hua had regarding PAP’s need to renew and listen to the ground after they were voted out. Such statements does not come when they were still ministers. And you also do not hear such statements from current ministers. Why? I can’t think of a better reason other than group think and the reluctance to go against the ‘conventional PAP culture’. Without the presence of MM and SM, there is hope that the party will be able to execute real changes.

The anti-PAP assertiveness on the relevance of MM Lee and SM Goh in cyberspace might also be another reason they are leaving the cabinet. This is not to say many young voters do not appreciate the work that MM Lee and SM Goh had contributed to Singapore. It is simply part of human psychology of young adults asserting a greater voice in society. These young voters including myself, liberalized by Western influence and being highly educated, wants a democracy that allows for more alternative voice in the political body.  We desire for the maturity of a democratic society, for a progression not only in terms of economics but also in society behavior.

Growing new candidates and the beginning of a new political era

The real challenge comes now to Singapore politics. With the departure of MM Lee and SM Goh, how will PAP transform itself to be more more relevant to the citizens? Singaporeans mostly equate Singapore to PAP, and is further linked with MM Lee and SM Goh. Similarly, people associate Workers’ Party with Low Thia Kiang and Sylvia Lim, and maybe a certain extend to Chen Show Mao. Without the 2 grand masters, how will Singaporeans identify with the ruling party? This will be a great challenge to the current PAP candidates. But this will also be a great chance for the new candidates to really showcase their capabilities and build rapport with all Singaporeans, without having the old guards overshadowing them.  Only then can the new candidates grow and shine.

The world has continue to evolve. So too the PAP and Singapore political scene need to change. As we give our salute to the our honorable stewards of past-Singapore, this is a new political era that presents a very different landscape for PAP. But of course, all the changes will not take place if the influence of MM Lee and SM Goh continues to hang onto Parliament.

Categories: PAP candidates
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