GE2020: Don't rock the boat, says ESM Goh Chok Tong

GE2020: Don't rock the boat, says ESM Goh Chok Tong
PHOTO: Reuters

Growing up in Pasir Panjang meant that he knows a thing or two about the difficulties of rowing a sampan in rough waters, Emeritus Senior Minister (ESM) Goh Chok Tong shared in a Facebook post yesterday (July 7).

The 79-year-old may have retired from politics last month, but he could not resist sharing some of his insights this election season as he urged Singaporeans to "never rock the boat".

Goh recalled the days when he fought in the 2001 general election as Prime Minister and confronted critical issues such as lives, jobs and an uncertain future.

This was in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks, when the global economy and the future looked bleak and uncertain, he recounted. 


"I had to steer our tiny Singapore Sampan through many choppy waters – economic recessions, financial crises, terrorist threats and Sars. We did so safely because Singaporeans rowed together with me. I will never forget the unity and support from fellow Singaporeans in times of crisis."

Goh also highlighted several similarities between his past experience and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's current situation.

"PM Lee is now fighting Covid-19, saving jobs and creating new ones, as well as planning for leadership transition. All this, while navigating treacherous international waters".

He added that the government is facing an even tougher situation than in 2001, as the future looks "dangerously uncertain".

"The Singapore Sampan is out in the choppy open sea. The waves are getting dangerously bigger. Remember my two sampan survival tips: one, don’t rock the boat; two, pick a crew with the skills to row the sampan, and row in unison with them," Goh concluded. 


On the other hand, several opposition leaders have called on Singaporeans to do the opposite. 

Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan urged Singaporeans not to be afraid to "rock the boat" during uncertain times, in an online media session last month.

He said, "Singaporeans must understand that the boat is sinking. If you don't start paddling, if you just remain still so that you don't rock the boat, it is going to sink."

In Red Dot United's first e-rally, chairman Michelle Lee also said that she found Goh's comparison of Singapore to a sampan "very disturbing", referencing his Facebook post on the Non-Constituency Member of Parliament scheme where he had made a similar analogy. 

She explained: "When the world moves towards powerful, zero-carbon ocean liners, we cannot remain a sampan, much less an unstable one with all kinds of contraptions plastered all over it. While a sampan needs just one man to operate it, ocean liners need all hands on deck to take it in a new direction."

This website is best viewed using the latest versions of web browsers.