PM Lee praises ESM Goh, who is retiring, for calm, steady leadership

This article is more than 12 months old

As Mr Goh Chok Tong announced his retirement from politics yesterday, days before a general election that will be fought under the shadow of Covid-19, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong fittingly praised him for his calm and steady leadership during crises like the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak in 2003.

The Emeritus Senior Minister, 79, an MP for 44 years who served as prime minister from 1990 to 2004, said he prefers to retire now while he is healthy and able, so he can ease the transition of his successor, Dr Tan See Leng, 55, former group chief executive and managing director of IHH Healthcare, into his Marine Parade ward.

Mr Goh said many activists had urged him to stand for another term. "But I should not. I would not have the same energy when I cross into my 80s," he told PM Lee in his letter, adding that smooth and systematic leadership succession is key to Singapore's political stability.

On the other side of the political divide, former Workers' Party (WP) chief Low Thia Khiang also bowed out of politics yesterday after 29 years in Parliament, the longest of any opposition MP in Singapore.

Mr Low, 63, and two-term MPs Chen Show Mao, 59, and Png Eng Huat, 58, will not be standing in the polls.