ESM Goh on Tan Cheng Bock: I deserve some credit or blame for who he has become

With a literature reference too.

Sulaiman Daud | August 04, 2019, 04:56 PM

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong shared his thoughts about Tan Cheng Bock's recent speech on how the late Lee Kuan Yew persuaded him to join the ruling People's Action Party (PAP).

Said Goh in a Facebook post on Aug. 4:

"Tan Cheng Bock says that Lee Kuan Yew invited him to join the PAP. Ouch! He omits to say that I put his name up to LKY. Surely I deserve some credit — or rather, blame — for who he has become now?

“For Country, For People”. He has conveniently left out “For Me”!"

Tan: LKY did not want "yes men"

"For Country, For People" happens to be the motto of the newly launched Progress Singapore Party (PSP).

Goh was referring to something Tan said during his speech at PSP's launch a day earlier on Aug. 3.

According to Tan, he shared that the late Lee Kuan Yew did not want "yes men" when recruiting him for the ruling PAP:

"Speaking up is not in gratitude or betrayal. Lee Kuan Yew made it clear when he asked me to join him, to join his party, and he said when I told him I was not enamoured of the PAP.

He said “I don’t want yes men,” he said. So I joined him. And I did not hesitate to speak when I disagreed."

At another point in his speech, Tan said Lee made a case for him to join the party:

"I was called by him to join the work of nation building. I remember we spoke for quite some time because I told him I was not enamoured with the PAP, but he told me ‘I need you to come forward. To take Singapore to the next level of growth.’

He impressed me with the passion to serve the country, to build the country up. That call was so touching, so strong that I joined him in spite of my reservations.

And he said, ‘if you don’t come up, don’t blame me,’ he said. ‘If I take second-rate people to take your place.’ That is a very powerful message."

In 2005, Goh said:

"I recommended him to the PAP…He passed the rigorous selection process and stood as PAP’s candidate in 1980. He won decisively."

Don Quixote tilting at windmills

Goh further touched upon his long relationship with Tan in his Facebook post.

Despite their shared history, Goh believes that Tan has "lost his way."

"Tan Cheng Bock was my classmate in Raffles Institution. I have known him close for over 60 years. It saddens me to see how he has “lost his way”. He is like Don Quixote tilting at windmills."

Don Quixote is a novel by Miguel de Cervantes, about an ageing nobleman who believes windmills to be giant enemies menacing mankind, and charges at them with his lance.

You can see his post in full below:

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Top image by Sulaiman Daud and Mparader's Facebook page.