Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Did Goh Keng Swee Sell Us Out?

A eulogy is an oral memorial that pays tribute to the life of the deceased, it is a way of expressing sorrow, and also of celebrating one's life achievements . It is hardly occasion to dwell on the negative.

In Lee Kuan Yew's eulogy to Goh Keng Swee, he made mention of the following:
"After two years of constant friction and two race riots, in July 1965, he met with then Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak and Minister for External Affairs Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman. I had asked him to negotiate a looser arrangement for Singapore but keep Singapore within the Federation.
He on his own decided, after discussions with them, to have a clean break."

Lee said the same in his memoirs (The Singappore Story, page 633):
"I learnt that he never pressed Razak for a looser arrangement as I had asked him to. He knew they wanted Singapore out of their parliament and went along with them."

Does it sound like Goh is taking the fall for Singapore being kicked out of Malaysia?

But a careful reading of the chapter "42. The Tunku Wants Us Out" reveals that Goh, as usual, did not fail Singapore in any way. Page 629 has Goh, after being away for more than a month in Germany for medical treament, telling Lee than he ran into Tun Abdul Razak who wanted to discuss a rearrangement that would allow both sides to disengage from what would be a disastrous collision. Tunku's explanation to Lee was phrased thus: "So long as you are in any way connected with us, we will find it difficult to be friends... Tomorrow, when you are no longer in Malaysia and we are no longer quarrelling either in parliament or in constituencies, we'll be friends again."

Subsequently Goh met Razak and Dr Ismail again In Kuala Lumpur and told him only Lee, Lim Kim San and E.W. Barker knew of the discussions. Lee recorded that Goh then asked him for a written authorisation to continue the explorations and conclude the rearrangements that he could reach, including, a "hiving off" from the federation.

Goh returned from the meeting to report that Razak wanted a total hiving off, subject to confirmation that 1) Lee was in favour, and 2) the PAP must support it. Goh had told him on 1), "Yes, provided it is done quickly before Lee's commitment and involvement in the Solidarity Convention makes it impossible for him to get out." Razak was relieved for he had "half expected" Lee to reject the idea.

Goh, like the good soldier he always had been, acted as per instructions, and history should accord him the correct interpretation.

No comments:

Post a Comment