Fri, May 14, 2010
Goh Keng Swee's major contributions
Dr Goh Keng Swee dies at 91
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Former Deputy Prime Minister and finance minister Dr Goh Keng Swee died this morning after a long illness. He was 91.

His major contributions:


He was anti-colonial in his outlook during the pre-independence years.

He founded the Malayan Forum in 1949 - a political discussion group comprising Malayan and Singaporean students in London. The group met regularly to rally support for the decolonisation of and independence for Malaya and Singapore. It was through the Forum that he met Toh Chin Chye and Lee Kuan Yew.

He entered politics and he was elected as MP for Kreta Ayer on 30 May 1959. He was its MP till his retirement from politics in Dec 1984.


He spearheaded many of the most impressive public policy achievements in Singapore: Economic Development Board (EDB), the Development Bank of Singapore (DBS), the Jurong Industrial Estate.

His thoughts on economic growth contrasted sharply with the vast majority of his counterparts in other Third World governments. His decidedly conservative approach to public finance stands out.

Together with Lee Kuan Yew in 1965, they decided that Singapore's central bank, Monetary Authority of Singapore will not have currency issuing power. Singapore remained one of few independent states to issue currency under a currency board until 2003.

He was instrumental in the founding of Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). He "undertook major restructuring of MAS' key functions - monetary policy, reserve management, and supervision and development of the financial sector".


He built up the foundations of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). SAF was based on a concept of a combination of conscription and a professional military on the model of the Israeli Army.

He played a key role in setting up the local defence technology section, beginning with the establishment of Chartered Industries of Singapore in 1967. This became a model for the mushrooming of other state-owned enterprises or government-linked companies and a basis for the latter evolution of Singapore Technologies as a multinational company.


His Goh Report published in 1979 led to a major overhaul of primary and secondary schooling in Singapore. Streaming was introduced. Its recommendations underpin much of the Singapore school curriculum even today. The report's message - education is the key to economic development and that the education system should be sufficiently flexible to accommodate, reflect and reinforce development needs.


He was one of the few analysts during the 1960s to have projected the possibility of China's economic rise by the 1990s. China, under Deng Xiaoping asked him to serve as economic adviser on the development of China's coastal regions


He served as chairman of the Institute of East Asian Philosophies, which was formed in 1983 and had spearheaded the Singapore government's promotion of Confucianism. In 1990, when the institute was renamed as Institute of East Asian Political Economy (IEAPE). Dr Goh continued to serve as the chairman. IEAPE served as a government think-tank on contemporary China as information on China at that point was limited.

Through his initiative, Jurong Bird Park and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra were set up.

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