Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Goh Chok Tong

Goh Chok Tong (simplified Chinese: 吴作栋; traditional Chinese: 吳作棟; pinyin: Wú Zuòdòng; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Gô Chok-tòng; born 20 May 1941) is the Senior Minister of Singaporeand the chairman of the central bank of Singapore, the Monetary Authority of Singapore. He also served as the second Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore from 28 November 1990 to 12 August 2004, succeeding Lee Kuan Yew, the former Prime Minister of theRepublic of Singapore.


  • 1 Early life
  • 2 Career at Neptune Orient Lines, 1969 to 1977
  • 3 Early political career
  • 4 Prime Minister, 1990 to 2004
  • 5 Senior Minister, 2004 to 2011
  • 6 Emeritus Senior Minister, from 2011
  • 7 Family
  • 8 References
  • 9 Bibliography
  • 10 External links

[edit]Early life

Goh Chok Tong's father was from Yongchun county of Fujian province in China, while he was born in Singapore and his family belongs to the Hokkien dialect group, now more commonly known as Minnan.[2][3] Goh studied at Raffles Institution from 1955 to 1960. He was a very competitive swimmer in his younger days and was given the nickname Bald.[citation needed]

Goh earned a First Class Honours (Bachelor of Arts) in economics from the National University of Singapore (then known as the University of Singapore), a Master of Arts in Development Economics from Williams College in the United States in 1967. After his studies, Goh returned to Singapore to serve in the Administrative Service.[4]

[edit]Career at Neptune Orient Lines, 1969 to 1977

In 1969, Goh was seconded to the Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) as a Planning and Projects Manager. His career advanced quickly and by 1973, he became the Managing Director and led NOL to achieve impressive financial results during his tenure. Here Goh worked underCaptain Muhammad Jalaluddin Sayeed, with whom he maintained close ties.[5]

[edit]Early political career

Goh, on his first election as Member of Parliament for Marine Parade in 1976.

In the 1976 Singapore general election, at the age of thirty-five, Goh was elected as Member of Parliament for Marine Parade constituency, as aPeople's Action Party (PAP) candidate. He was appointed a Senior Minister of State for Finance. In 1981, he was promoted to Minister for Trade and Industry and later served in other appointments including Minister for Health and Minister for Defence.[6]

In 1985, Goh became the First Deputy Prime Minister and began to assume the responsibility of the government in a carefully managed leadership transition. According to Lee Kuan Yew, his preferred successor was Tony Tan; however Goh was selected by the second generation of PAP leaders that included Tony Tan, Suppiah Dhanabalan, and Ong Teng Cheong, and Lee accepted their decision.[4]

[edit]Prime Minister, 1990 to 2004

Prime Minister Goh and U.S. PresidentGeorge W. Bush signing the US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement in the White House, 6 May 2003.

On 28 November 1990, Goh became the second Prime Minister of Singapore, taking over from Lee Kuan Yew. Lee remained an influential member of his Cabinet, holding the post of Senior Minister. In the 1991 general elections, the first electoral test for Goh, led to the party winning 61% of the popular vote. In 1992, Lee Kuan Yew handed over the post of Secretary General of People's Action Party to Goh, successfully completing the leadership transition.

As Prime Minister, Goh promised a more open-minded and consultative style of leadership than that of his predecessor. His administration introduced several major policies and policy institutions, including:

  • Medisave
  • Non-Constituency Members of Parliament
  • Government Parliamentary Committees
  • Group representation constituency
  • Nominated Members of Parliament
  • Vehicle Quota Scheme
  • Elected President
  • Singapore 21

During the period under Goh's administration, Singapore experienced several crises, such as the 1997 Asian financial crisis, threats of terrorism including the 2001 plot to bomb embassies in Singapore by Jemaah Islamiyah, 2001 to 2003 economic recession, and the2003 SARS outbreak.

As Secretary General, Goh led the PAP to three general election victories in 1991, 1997, and 2001, in which the party won 61%, 65% and 75% of the votes respectively. After the general election in 2001, Goh indicated that he would step down as Prime Minister after leading the country out of the recession.[4]

During an interview with Time Magazine in July 2003, Goh surprised his nation by announcing that his Government is now openly employing gays, even in sensitive jobs, despite homosexual acts remaining illegal under Section 377A of the Penal Code (Singapore).[7]His announcement drew a strong backlash from conservatives of the island nation but nevertheless reinforced Goh's image as an open-minded leader.

[edit]Senior Minister, 2004 to 2011

Goh Chok Tong speaking at a rally atPotong Pasir during the 2006 general election. The banner behind him shows the campaign manifesto of the People's Action Party, "Staying Together, Moving Ahead".

On 12 August 2004, Goh stepped down as Prime Minister and began service as Senior Ministerin Lee Hsien Loong's Cabinet. On 20 August 2004, Goh assumed the post of Chairman of theMonetary Authority of Singapore. [1] After a number of threats of Islamist terrorism in Singapore, Goh met local Islamic religious leaders in 2004, and made a visit to Iran, where he met the Iranian president, Mohammad Khatami, and visited local mosques. The Straits Timesspeculated that this was meant to develop relationships between Singapore and Iran.

Goh subsequently visited other Middle-Eastern countries as Senior Minister, with a view to improving diplomatic relationships and thus gaining wider business opportunities for Singaporean businessmen, especially in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Kuwait.

On 1 February 2005, Goh was appointed an honorary Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), Australia's highest civilian honour, "for eminent service to Australia/Singapore relations".[8]

On 19 May 2005, Goh signed a Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement with Israel's Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his visit to Israel, superseding the agreement signed in 1971. Improvements in the agreement include enhancements to the withholding tax rate on interest income, which was reduced from 15% to 7%. This would benefit Singaporean businessmen with investments in Israel and vice versa, by ensuring they are not taxed twice. Goh also discussed for an agreement to recognise each other's certification standards, so as to ease the flow of goods between the two countries.

He currently is a patron for the Institute of Policy Studies, a government think tank.

In the Singapore general election, 2006, Goh was tasked to help the PAP win back the two opposition wards of Hougang and Potong Pasir. [2] However, he was unsuccessful in this task, as Low Thia Khiang and Chiam See Tong retained their respective wards.

In 2006, Goh was briefly considered for the job as United Nations Secretary-General. The job eventually went to Ban Ki-moon [3][4].

In 2008, Goh was invited to join the InterAction Council of Former Heads of State and Government, an independent international organisation of former world leaders.

On 24 January 2011, Goh indicated that he will continue to seek re-election in the next Singapore General Election. Two months later, Goh has also progressively released snippets prior to the election on the importance of grooming a successor who could be part of the fourth generation PAP leadership to helm Marine Parade GRC in the long run.

After Singapore General Elections 2011 in which the Opposition made unprecedented gains by winning a Group Representative Constituency, Goh announced that he has decided to leave the Cabinet for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his team to have a fresh clean slate.

[edit]Emeritus Senior Minister, from 2011

On 14 May 2011, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and he announced their retirement from the cabinet after a watershed General Elections 2011.[9]

On 18 May 2011, PM Lee announced that Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong is now appointed as senior advisor to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and been given the title Emeritus Senior Minister.[10]

On 24 June 2011, Goh was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun by the Japanese government.[11]

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