|From Left - Goh Chok Tong and Lee Kuan Yew|
According to the Straits Times they described the very recent General Election as a 'watershed' one and that 'they have decided to leave the Cabinet and have a 'completely younger team of ministers connect to and engage with this young generation in shaping the future of Singapore.'
"We have studied the new political situation and thought how it can affect the future. We have made our contributions to the development of Singapore. The time has come for a younger generation to carry Singapore forward in a more difficult and complex situation. The Prime Minister and his team of younger leaders should have a fresh clean slate. A younger generation, besides having a non-corrupt and meritocratic government and a high standard of living, wants to be more engaged in the decisions which affect them. After a watershed general election, we have decided to leave the cabinet and have a completely younger team of ministers to connect to and engage with this young generation in shaping the future of our Singapore.
But the younger team must always have in mind the interests of the older generation. This generation who has contributed to Singapore must be well-looked after."
While it is timely to pay tribute to both men for their stewardship of Singapore, the political tide has changed somewhat and their resignations reflect this new reality.
There is need for the PAP to reinvent itself after being re elected by the smallest margin since independence.
The younger people of Singapore do not respond to the pleas for 'nation building' in the same way as their parents once did. They expect the government to be more responsive to their basic needs, such as housing and jobs and to listen to their criticisms.
MM Lee Kuan Yew is now 87 and SM Goh Chok Tong a sprightly 69. Both have once again shown astute political judgement in their decision to resign from cabinet, although I very much suspect that behind the scenes their opinion will still be sought.