ESM Goh Chok Tong: 'For Covid-19, it is telling that there is no global leadership. Sad.'

Goh echoed earlier remarks made by the UN Secretary-General.

Matthias Ang | May 05, 2020, 12:53 PM

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong has lamented the lack of global leadership in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a Facebook post on May 5, he said, "For Covid-19, it is telling that there is no global leadership. Sad."

Covid-19 is essentially a global exam on governance

Goh wrote that that the Covid-19 pandemic was essentially a global examination "of the toughest order" on the governance of countries, and the resolve of their leaders and societies.

He hopes that the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other professionals to conduct an in-depth study of how different countries dealt with the pandemic.

This was not to grade countries on their responses, Goh clarified, but to identify where they had succeeded or failed.

Voicing his fear that the next pandemic could combine the infectiousness of Covid-19 with the fatality of SARS, he explained that every country needs to examine its own system and practices in preparation.

"I hope that there will be coordinated global leadership right from the start when the next pandemic comes around," he said.

He added that such transboundary issues require cooperation amongst all countries.

Here is his post in full:

Echoing the UN Chief

Goh's remarks echoed that of the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, who lamented the lack of global leadership on Covid-19, Reuters reported.

Guterres was quoted saying:

"There is ... a disconnect between leadership and power. We see remarkable examples of leadership but they are usually not associated with power. And where we see power we sometimes do not see the necessary leadership."

China and the U.S. have been trading barbs about responsibility

Guterres' remarks came following U.S. President Donald Trump accusing China of doing "anything they can" to make him lose his re-election in November.

China has since rejected Trump's remarks, with its foreign ministry stating that it had “no interest” in interfering in internal U.S. affairs, Bloomberg further reported.

A spokesperson for the ministry Geng Shuang, added that some U.S. politicians had been attempting to shift the responsibility for "their own poor handling to others".

Trump has also halted U.S. funding of the WHO, on the grounds that it is a "China-centric" organisation, an allegation which the WHO has rejected.

In stressing the importance of the need for both countries to cooperate, Guterres further stated:

"The contribution of China and the United States both to fight Covid-19 (and) to all other aspects in the development of international relations is, in my opinion, absolutely essential and I hope that it will become possible in the future."

Top image collage from Goh Chok Tong Facebook and Diplomatic Security Service via Flickr