Ex-Singapore PM Goh gives a harsh reply to PSP founder Tan Cheng Bock

Goh Chok Tong
Goh Chok Tong Facebook

While Singapore is getting ready for its next general election, which is months away and must be held before 2021, political leaders have started an unofficial Facebook battle. After Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's Facebook post, Emeritus Senior Minister (ESM) Goh Chok Tong chose the social media platform to comment on his former People's Action Party (PAP) colleague Tan Cheng Bock.

In his Facebook post, the second prime minister of the Republic, revealed that he was saddened to see how his friend for over 60 years, Dr Tan, who is the founder of Progress Singapore Party (PSP) "lost his way".

A close friend of Goh, Dr Tan is one of those three visitors, apart from the immediate family, to have been allowed to visit the former PM when he underwent surgery for prostate cancer five years ago.

The 78-year-old former PM took exception to Dr Tan's remarks made on Saturday during the launch of PSP at Swissotel Merchant Hotel listing the party agenda that includes creating jobs, helping displaced workers find jobs and lowering the voting age among others.

In his Facebook post, ESM Goh wrote, "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 likened Dr Tan to "Don Quixote tilting at windmills," which means wasting energy while attacking imaginary enemies, based on an expression in the Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes.

A few days ago, PM Lee's brother Lee Hsien Yang also mentioned in a Facebook post that PAP has "lost its way," while stating, "I wholeheartedly support the principles and values of the Progress Singapore Party."

Last month, during a press conference, Dr Tan criticised the PAP for "erosion of transparency, independence and accountability". The 79-year-old politician, Dr Tan said he had spoken to many Singaporeans, who feel the current system is imbalanced and want an alternative to the current ruling party.

During the conference, he also stated that "Many are concerned that a government with an overwhelming majority in Parliament is going to fail to take in different perspectives, different ideas and just push through their policies without due consideration of sentiments from the people and longer-term consequences."

During the public launch on Saturday, Dr Tan, who was a popular candidate in the 2011 Presidential Election mentioned that he wants to re-enter politics "for country, for people" and recalled how Singapore's founding PM Lee Kuan Yew asked him to join PAP before, and now it is his turn to ask the fellow citizens to join PSP.

Soon after the conference, former PM stated in his post on Facebook: "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'!"