Saturday, May 22, 2010

Goh Keng Swee - The Star

Read this article by Seah Cheang Nee published in The Star, Malaysia. The writer was previously the editor of a newspaper in Singapore. He has a good knowledge of Singapore's history.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

A contrarian view would be that LKY is also part of the legacy that Goh Keng Swee has left behind.

C H Yak said...

This is because the present Govt. has chosen and is operating like a "corporate business".

Same with paying high salary as the sole motivator to join politics.

Corporates seldom honour their ex-leaders, except perhaps the founder.

The impression presented is always that the present head of Govt and his cohort is always better and are more capable than the old guards; and if not; the tasks are now more difficult.

Whatever good deeds and works are done, it is often the new dominant head at the top who is presented as performing well as the new capable "leader" and get the top honour even if he is actually weak and not capable as a political leader, just as if the nation is a commercial entity, especially to prop up a "selected" leader.

Tan Kin Lian said...

Reply to 9:27 am

LKY is too big to be a legacy of GKS. I think that their personal values are quite different anyway in recent years. Maybe they share the same values at the start.

Anonymous said...

While we are sad to see Dr GKS go, I guess it is beyond our control as it is part of life cycle.

As a Christian, Dr GKS suffering ended and he is in good hands.

Looks like the magic number 90 is the limit for great men in Sgp.

I saw LKY on the news few days ago and can really see that he has aged especially his walking speed. I hope he can consider slowing down and leave the international visitation to the next generation. The mind may be strong but the body is not.

Also have not heard much from TCC and LKY's wife. Looks like this is the period where we bid farewell to the founders of sgp one by one.

We may be sad but no one live forever but at least, what these great men done have benefited the following generations. Lucky Singapore....

Anonymous said...

Me thinks the Head of State does not always or neccessarily given the honour and respect. Hitler(Germany) is one example of one leader devoid of any respect.

Amongst Dr Goh Keng Swee, MM Lee Kuan Yew, SM Goh Chok Tong and PM Lee Hsien Loong. The Latter Two will not leave their Names behind for long and their histories will not be of much values in future.

patriot

Anonymous said...

Excellent article ... These are the interesting concluding questions:

First, would Singapore be a better country today if he had not left the government in 1984? Secondly, under his economic policies, could Singapore have avoided the widening of the gap between the rich and the poor? And thirdly, would he have allowed such a vast intake of foreigners? These questions will now probably never be answered.

I am impressed by Dr Goh's thrift despite growing up from a rich family.

Anonymous said...

Many years back I read about how GKS even opposed building the MRT. As an economist, he had questioned why spend billions just to make people go to work on time?

Also GKS was also cautious and conservative towards a laissez-faire financial centre. And some, including former top officials, said was why Singapore lost out to Hong Kong as a dynamic Asian financial centre.

It is also said that preferably top politicians should not be an economist by training. Under certain situations, their thinking and policy decisions can have a terrible and long lasting effect on the people and country.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone tell me why did those miw choose to treat our former President Mr Ong Teng Chong without much respect like other presidents when he passed away?

For this one reason alone, I will vote against the pap.


Merlion

Anonymous said...

It's easy to dream and give out orders, it is much harder to translate into reality and make it work.
Gog keng Swee just did that with all his heart. So, Goh's contribution to Singapore carries more weight, and we salute this great man, he is our benefactor.

eve+line said...

We will never know why people like GKS and TCC left the government while LKY clung on. But I've always felt that LKY is so thick-skinned to hang around for so long and claim credit for the work his old-time colleagues have done.

Anonymous said...

Mentor Lee Kuan Yew is an enigma, there are people who swear that he is the Founding Father of Singapore, the Son of Singapore and without him Singapore may not have survive.

On the other hand, there are people saying they are waiting to spit, pee and throw rotten egg at his grave. Some even believed the threats literally and warned others of penalty for doing the aforesaid.

And it's very common to find netizens posting that they will pop the champagnes to celebrate his end and merry the whole nite thru whence the time comes.

Anonymous said...

If you love, honour, respect and cherish a person ... do the necessary while he is still alive.

He won't know now that he is dead.

And all the grand gestures are really for the benefit of the living (to feel better) and not the dead.

My cousin gave me the above advice when his father (my favourite uncle) passed away.

I had neglected to visit my favourite uncle in 20 years.

My cousin of course sugar coated the advice, and was not so blunt.

I will always be grateful for the advice. And have since tried to live my life accordingly.

Anonymous said...

I'd suspect many of those showing up to pay their last respects are grassroots leaders (and their cronies) who have received encouragement to attend.

Ordinary Singaporeans are too busy working at a cheaper, better, faster pace to have the luxury of time and money to mourn.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it would be nice to hear what Singaporeans have to say to their Leaders like President Nathan, Lee Kuan Yew and his son, Mr Toh Chin Chye, Richard Hu(ex Finance Minister) Mah Bow Tan, Tony Tan, Lim Swee Say, Lim Boon Heng, Dr Vivien.

Not forgetting Mr Chiam See Tong, Low Thia Khiang, Chee Soon Juan and other wellknowns.

Let them know how they fare in the hearts of the people. Once they start to rot, the best and nicest words will not do them justice.

Say it now.

I shall start by wishing them a pleasant journey to each and everyone of them.
For President Nathan, I say; once the Flower Vase is brokened, send it to Semakau Island for a good rest.
Some, me am afraid will have changes made when the closets are opened. As such, some may get excellent tributes and accolades only to be reversed and changed when histories are rewrittened. Inconsistencies are only to be expected in history.

patriot

Anonymous said...

9.25 am

Not just grassroots leaders. What about the stat boards/civil service/GLCs? Just some hints from superior is enough to make subordinates attend. And cheaper, better, faster may also not apply here.

Anonymous said...

Rex comments as follows,

Though Goh Keng Swee might have done very well as pricinipal advisor to LKY in the turbulent 60's, and also during his stint as Defence Minister and Finance minister, I feel that he failed very miserably as Education Minister.

The streaming concept which stigmatises EM3 students is highly controversial. Due to young age developmental lags are bound to exist and it is not feasible to pre-determine child's potentials too early. The introduction of the engineers into the ministry to revamp the education system was also another failure in my opinion. Engineers are not educators principally. The Team, in my opinion, failed to produce the desirable results. I find that people educated under the new system (they would be in their 30's) are not at all well versed in general knowledge, particularly, world history and general knowledge. I know of one person who doesn't even know who Hitler is. During my time even primary 6 students learn a bit about history of india, china, WWI, WWII etc. Today, "history" is not even a subject in primary level.

Another major failure was that Dr Goh simply cannot see that sometimes it is not just the System that needs to be tweaked, basic things such as CLASS SIZE is very very important to good teaching. In 1963, the class size is 42 students. In 2010, the class size is still about 40 students!!!!!

We have achieved so much in GDP, the ministers get $3m salary a year, but we pack 42 students to a class and the poor teacher has a hard time to control quality of the work. We prefer to set aside land to build condo's and casinos, not schoold.

Tuition works because the teacher can have time to deal with smaller number of students. It is that simple. Today, government shool teachers are so fully loaded with "rubbish work" (miscellaneous non teaching activities) and they have to handle 40 "monkeys", for 50 years it is the same. I keep hearing "holistic education". What a joke.

We did not make any progress in the field of education, in my opinion.

And the "singapore maths" miracle is really a big joke. I had elaborated on this before in a previous post.

Nonetheless, for his other achievements in Defence and Finance ministry, I salute Dr Goh and respect his contributions and successful legacy.

rex

Anonymous said...

Streaming was one great mistake that Dr GKS made. However, those who took over the Education Ministry from him are the Main Culprits. And the Greatest Culprit was the One that executed the Streaming and failed to modify or made adjustment to it, AFTER DR GOH STEPPED DOWN FROM POLITICS IN 1984. The Pr Minister then and from then on were too busy dealing with oppositions????

Yes, the selfless Dr GKS was as culpable as any of the pragmatic leaders in seeking (supposedly) instant solution.

YET, HE HAD LIVED A HUMBLE LIFE and NEVER CLAIMED CREDITS.

Me salutes Him !

patriot

Anonymous said...

LKY's memoirs, The Singapore Story- From third World to First.

The book is dedicated to Mr Goh Keng Swee and many old guards. There were many mention of GKS positively in the book.

I brought it overseas when I further my study and re read it last night after watching the funeral. I am in my 30s and I am somewhat guilty I have no recollection of GKS's works though it was constantly mention in the book. I do remember seeing his name in various touristy places. I do not blame any body but should have been more inquisitive.

Anonymous said...

join facebook group In Memory of Dr Goh Keng Swee it has only about 6 members now.

Anonymous said...

Dr Goh's policies (though harsh) are mostly correct. But I would still disagree with some of his polcies. Due to his highly technical economics training, his policies tend to be too functional, too engineerng focused, with little appreciation for the softer side. They are like HDB flats, they serve the purpose/ function, but without any soft touches.

However, because he served in Singapore Volunteer Corps during war, and devoted his career to Social Welfare Dept, it is very hard to blame him or question his intentions. I think even the current opposition MPs would find it hard to match his track record of self-sacrifice.

Anonymous said...

I was 15 years old when when Dr Goh left politics in 1984. I remembered little of Dr Goh and learnt much of his contributions to S'pore only upon his passing away. Even though i went to pay my last respects to him at the Parliament house, I still cannot overcome my sadness and regret that i could not express my gratitude to him while he was still alive.
As I was reading through Dr Goh’s many efforts, I could feel his sense of urgency to build up the country so he must have executed quite “hard” policies to achieve the fast results. Although some of his policies e.g. the streaming system in primary school are quite unpopular, i still believe he acted with the best of intentions. Who can match his achievements in a brief span 25 years? Why is it that in the 26years after he retired there was no news of him? Why is he not even casually invited to some events/ceremonies e.g. National Day? So many of the younger generations have forgotten or have not heard of him. This explained why only 18000 went to pay him their last respects.

Trebuchet said...

I think Rex (May 24) has raised some really bad points about GKS's stint in education being a failure.

It is easy to say there are alternatives to streaming. But it is not easy to say what they are and whether they would have worked. Now we complain about how streaming leaves children behind; in 1978, the dropout rate was such that 30% flunked out before Sec 1 and 81% were gone by university.

As for class size, the research is inconclusive. For a class of 1-8 students, of course it is fantastic. Beyond that, the limit of the brainstorming phenomenon is reached.

Those who were in P6 in 1979 are turning 43 this year, not quite in their 30s. They have children in the system right now, and they complain that the kids are under a lot of pressure. The point is that GKS predicted this on 1 Mar 1967 and again in Parliament on 27 Mar 1979 after he released his Report on MOE (1978). He said, '[Every Chinese parent] hopes that one's child will become a dragon."

I think that one ought to do one's readings before making sweeping statements about the failure of our education system. It can be much improved, and it has its flaws, but it is not a failure.

Anonymous said...

Rex comments on May 28 10.24 pm

I can agree with you that streaming may have some advantages in some ways. You quoted example of the dropout rates before streaming introduced. Would you also care to make the new statistics after streaming introduced? Are you not also guessing that "streaming" as implented by GKS is really the panacea, the cure for those "bad"
statistics?

Anyway, "streaming" wasn't at all the main thrust of my argument. If you read my post, and in fact i wrote a long one on this in another thread... I am more unhappy with the senseless complete overhaul of a pretty good, well rounded syllabus originally designed by colonial government. In the old days, we learn a bit of world history, civilisations, etc. in Primary School. It is so important to know these rudimentary humanities subjects, as an educated person. Now all these critical elements are completely dropped from Pr school. what are they doing? "Health Education" "Civics and Moral Education". Elementary Geography is also dropped. Math has morphed into such a fearsome subject for so many students, the standards are far far ahead than the maturity level of most students in my opinion. The math concepts (P5-P6)required to be mastered are so numerous and had to be done at breakneck speed. In my opinion, the emphasis ought to be on concepts which really matter in real life.

Textbooks are extremely skimpy. Class size makes learning non conducive. How to teach 42 students with the same dedication as 20? There should be some concerted effort to improve the teaching environment. Short of that, rich students don't suffer as they get sent for private tuition.

We need to create a level playing field in Education. This is very important, and this is the single reason why i feel that Goh Keng Swee has failed miserably as Education Minister.

rex

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