Lee Kuan Yew suggested Wei Ling as PAP candidate: Goh Chok Tong

Nicholas Yong
Assistant News Editor
Lee Kuan Yew (1923 – 2015), the first Prime Minister of Singapore, arrives at London Airport with his wife Kwa Geok Choo (1920 – 2010) and their daughter Lee Wei Ling, UK, 30 October 1971. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

While it is often perceived (rightly or wrongly) that the late prime minister Lee Kuan Yew brought his son Hsien Loong into politics, Goh Chok Tong says that the elder Lee actually recommended his daughter Wei Ling as a political candidate.

In the first volume of his newly-released memoirs entitled Tall Order: The Goh Chok Tong Story, the Emeritus Senior Minister (ESM) revealed that some time in the 1980s, the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) was looking for female candidates as there was a shortage of them.

In this regard, Singapore’s first prime minister recommended his daughter as a potential candidate. “He said Wei Ling would make a very good MP,” recalled Goh in the book.

This was down to her “very strong compassion for the down and out” and her “very strong sense of justice”, said the 77-year-old, quoting the late Lee. Ultimately, after sounding out George Yeo – who went on to become Foreign Minister – and then political neophyte Hsien Loong, Goh decided against it.

“(Hsien Loong) did not think she was suitable and he was absolutely right,” said Goh, who was Prime Minister of Singapore from 1990 to 2004.

So how did Goh respond to the elder Lee? “I never replied to him. I just went mmm, mmm….Then I kept quiet, and Lee Kuan Yew also kept quiet,” he wrote.

Goh also asserted in the book that it was he, and not Lee Kuan Yew, who recruited the current Prime Minister into politics. “Lee Kuan Yew never suggested Hsien Loong to me. I brought him in.”

These are some of the revelations in the 280-page Tall Order, penned by former Straits Times journalist Peh Shing Huei and published by World Scientific Press. It tells the story of Goh’s life and career until he succeeded Lee Kuan Yew as prime minister in 1990.

Tall Order will be officially launched next Thursday, 8 November. Yahoo News Singapore‘s review of the book will be released on the same day.

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