Monday, February 6, 2012

Value Of Friends

During the launch of book Men-In-White book, one of the authors mentioned taking Dr Toh Chin Chye for a car ride around town, and he asked what was the spiky looking building at Esplanade Drive. This was sad. Was this how the founding chairman of the richest political party in the world lived out his last days?

Dr Toh Chin Chye 1921 – 2012
Thanks to the account of former journalist Pang Cheng Lian, we are glad to learn that he had friends who bothered to hold monthly lunches with him. And put up with a cantankerous old man with a failing memory. The people who cared for his company included former MPs Ho See Beng, Robin Sim, and ex-colleagues in the Cabinet, Ong Pang Boon, Lee Chiaw Meng, Tang See Chim, to name a few.

These are guys with personal knowledge of Toh's contribution to the nation, not third party accounts. The man who could have been Prime Minister on two momentous occasions. Once on 17 July 1961, when Lee Kuan Yew wrote him that the trade unions, the Middle Road Crowd, wanted Lee to resign and Toh to take over as the Prime Minister. Then again in 1964, consequent to race riots in Singapore and Malaysia, when Lee offered to resign, purportedly as an attempt to defuse the strained relations between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Extremists from UMNO (United Malays National Organization) were demanding the Tengku should arrest Lee and prevent him from causing more political mischief and ethnic tension in Malaysia. In that eventuality, Toh or Dr Goh Keng Swee would have been the next logical choice to become Prime Minister of Singapore.

Straits Times wrote that " is caricature to say personal bitterness drove him into embarking on a late career as a vocal critic", implying he was unhappy for being booted out of cabinet prematurely at age 59. We believe his outrage stemmed from the shoddy treatment of faithful stalwarts who stood by the party during the nascent trials of nation building, only to be cast aside like used douche bags to make way for technocrats parachuted in. Hear his words from an 2002 interview:
"You don't repay their loyalty by throwing them out suddenly. They have no jobs to go to... We have the responsibility to help them find another job."

It is said his physical deterioration accelerated with the demise of his wife, and then adopted daughter. In the end it is the love of human beings that sustain life, not pecuniary pursuits.


  1. I may have not known him personally but Toh Chin Chye come across to me as a person who put nation first before self. An old trait with so many older generation of politicians. Nowaday, scholars are parachuted into the ystem through GRC. Unfortunately, not many actually know how a poor Singaporean go through with his daily life. Perhaps ministers posted to man Social Ministry must he himself work as a social worker for a period of six months. He could then feel the real problems created by economic progress.

  2. When it comes to the throne even being remotely threatened, friendship really means nothing.

    Is it any wonder that until now we still can't find any other person in the whole Kingdom that is more talented than the Clown King & his Queen ?

    Whoever is next, what is going to happen to this Kingdom ?

    1. TCC said: "君要臣死,臣不得不死!"

  3. "In the end it is the love of human beings that sustain life, not pecuniary pursuits."

    Tell that to the old fart and his cronies. I'm still waiting to open my bottles of Dom Perignon to celebrate.

  4. It is really sad that the old guards that sweat blood and get their hands dirty to build our nation are under appreciated while the empty vessel that made the most noise are OVER glorified !

    Look forward for a day when the black and white are in their rightful place !

  5. Wow! Like artist, politicians get plenty of accolades when they are about to turn to ashes.
    BUT, when they were alive, some were liked renegades within the pack. Why were those members not given supports and praises while on office?

    Hypocrisy at the highest level of the livings!