ESM Goh says Govt was Right to Shift Policies

The Government's shift to the left in its social policies initially worried Emeritus Senior Minister (ESM) Goh Chok Tong. He felt, as did some Singaporeans, that it was "becoming too populist [and] giving away too much". He was worried the Government was "pandering to the electorate's whims and fancies, and is no longer the firm, decisive Government it used to be".

But he later saw that it was the right move because there was an urgent need to redistribute wealth in a meaningful and sustainable way to help lessen the stress of a widening income gap. The Government had "no choice" but to introduce policies such as MediShield Life and the Workfare Income Supplement for lower-wage workers. 

ESM Goh was speaking yesterday (26 Nov) at a dialogue series titled Pioneering The Future, where pioneer leaders giving their insights on key policies that shaped Singapore into what it is today. 

From his experience, "what you give, you can never take away from the population". He said that founding Prime Minister (PM) Lee Kuan Yew's style was “to give away bit by bit, because there's no end to what people want”. He added that, "If you give all at one time and have nothing else to give, that's when they kick you out. And this time the Government is giving a lot.''

Despite acknowledging the necessity of the shift, he still wonders whether the policies will be sustainable in the long run. 

Asked about policies on wages and foreign workers during his time as minister and PM, he said in retrospect that more could have been done. But at that time, the policies were right.

Have any thoughts about ESM Goh’s views? Share them with us!

Source: “Govt shift to left in social policies the right move: ESM Goh Chok Tong” (The Straits Times, 17 Nov 2015)

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