GE2020: Former PM Goh Chok Tong to retire from politics after 44 years

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (R), from the ruling People's Action Party, greets the crowd with former prime minister Goh Chok Tong (C) during a lunch time rally in the financial district of Raffles Place ahead of Singapore's September 11 election, on September 8, 2015. Campaigning for Singapore's September 11 election began September 1, with a resurgent opposition seeking a greater political role as voters chafe at immigration and high living costs. AFP PHOTO / ROSLAN RAHMAN        (Photo credit should read ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Singapore's Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong (centre) and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during the 2015 General Election. (PHOTO: Roslan Rahman/AFP via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong will not be contesting at the coming General Election, as the 79-year-old will retire from politics after 44 years as Member of Parliament (MP) for Marine Parade.

The second prime minister of Singapore had announced his decision in a letter to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday (24 June).

In his letter, ESM Goh said that he had decided not to stand in the GE “after much thought and with a heavy heart”. He also said that he would not have the same energy when he crosses into his 80s.

“I prefer to retire as Member of Parliament now whilst I am healthy and able to ease my successor’s transition into Marine Parade," he wrote in his letter to PM Lee.

ESM Goh noted that Dr Tan See Leng, who was unveiled by the PAP as a new candidate on Thursday morning, has been understudying him for nearly two years, and recommended Dr Tan to take over from him as MP for the Marine Parade group representation constituency (GRC).

He put up a post on his Facebook page saying, “This is au revoir, not adieu. I will continue to contribute to Marine Parade and Singapore in other ways.”

PM Lee thanks ESM Goh, says he’s ‘forever indebted’ to him

PM Lee has accepted ESM Goh’s decision to retire, and thanked him for his contributions as prime minister through tough times such as the 1997 Asian financial crisis and the 2003 SARS outbreak.

PM Lee also put up a post on his Facebook page on Thursday, saying that he is “forever indebted” to ESM Goh, who brought him into politics.

“Ours was a fruitful comradeship that spanned the entirety of my years in politics and most of his — a close friendship between two prime ministers that would be the envy of many countries,” he wrote in his post.

“Chok Tong has also agreed to become senior adviser to the People's Association on a pro bono basis, and will continue to chair the governing board of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. Singapore will continue to benefit from his insights and experience.”

Prime minister from 1990 to 2004

ESM Goh joined the government service in 1964, and was the managing director of Neptune Orient Lines – Singapore’s national shipping company – from 1973 to 1977.

He entered politics in 1976, becoming MP for Marine Parade in the General Election that same year. He served as Minister for Trade and Industry, Health and Defence between 1979 and 1990, and was appointed Deputy Prime Minister in 1985.

In 1990, ESM Goh succeeded Lee Kuan Yew as Singapore's second prime minister. He relinquished the post in 2004 to Lee Hsien Loong, and remained in the cabinet as Senior Minister.

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