More than 10 years ago back in around 2003, there was a big saga involving a big group of SIA pilots threatening to stage a strike as they were locked in a pay-raise dispute with SIA.

The pilots are all members of their private (non-government) union: Air Line Pilots Association-Singapore (Alpa-S).

After many months of stalemate, SIA wasn’t able to resolve the pay dispute with Alpa-S as SIA insist they are paying very fair salaries (if not better) according to international standards.

Towards the beginning of 2004; sensing a potentially major crisis is about to unfold before his eyes, SM Lee Kuan Yew stepped in.

He invited cordially all the leading members of Alpa-S who are involved in the ‘pay strike’ saga to the Istana for a ‘meeting’. The purpose of the meeting is so that the government can listen to the pilots’ side of the story and to help resolve the issue.

As the pilots were all ushered into the open-meeting, with the ‘Alpha-S’ pilots sitting on 1 side of the long table and Lee Kuan Yew at the center on the other side flanked by his ministers, NTUC union chief, SIA executives, etc, little have they known that LKY had already instructed a deep investigation and background checks into all the leading members of Alpha-S who were threatening the ‘pay strike’ against SIA.

Towards the end of the ‘meeting’, Lee Kuan Yew exposed Captain Goh.

The 43 year old pilot leading the ‘pay strike’ who is a Malaysian holding a Singapore PR (approved in 1981) and Australian PR (approved in 2002).

The below are an excerpt of an article on the meeting:

“Reading from a file, Mr Lee pulled out the following facts about Captain Goh.

A Malaysian with permanent residence status here, he had accepted Australian PR in 2002, moved his wife and children to Perth, shipped his car and sold his flat.

You told someone from IE Singapore that the grass had stopped growing in Singapore, did you not, [SM Lee Kuan Yew] asked.

He turned to one of the pilots and asked if he knew the Malaysian had bought a house in Australia and had this option to bail out.

No, the person answered.

‘No?’ repeated Mr Lee.

‘That’s deception, isn’t it?’ he asked Capt Goh.

The pilot in the hot seat tried to defend himself but it was too late. The line in the sand between him and the Singaporeans had been drawn for him.

‘My daughter is still in school here,’ he tried saying, adding this showed he still had roots in Singapore.

But wasn’t that because she did not like school in Australia and came back, Mr Lee shot back calmly.


The castigation, no doubt a tactic of divide-and-rule, also established a more significant point: It is not up to PRs or other foreigners to get into union matters and play around with decisions that affect the rest of Singaporeans.

Capt Goh had tried to undermine the interests of SIA and Singapore, he said. ‘If Singapore goes down, you go down,’ he told the Singaporeans across the table. ‘He doesn’t go down.’

With that out of the way, he laid out what he wanted to achieve out of the meeting: a fresh start.

‘You play straight with me, I play straight with you. You play ducks and drakes with me, I play ducks and drakes with you,’ he told them.

‘Tell me whether we can cooperate.’

Yes, they could tell him one thing and act another way, but he was not interested in that.

‘I don’t hold you to blame for everything. Nor is the management responsible for all the things that have gone wrong. ‘I want to create a new partnership of trust and cooperation, not confrontation,’ he said.”

The pay-strike instigator’s personal ‘back-up plans’ had been fully exposed and laid bare before the Alpha-S members, struck with sudden realisation from the latest revelations about their ring-leader which they have not learnt before.

Shortly, just a few days later, Captain Goh’s PR status was revoked:

“CAPTAIN Ryan Goh Yew Hock, the Singapore Airlines (SIA) pilot singled out as the instigator behind last year’s ouster of the pilot union’s executive committee, has been served notice that his Singapore permanent residency (PR) is to be revoked.

The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) confirmed last night that it informed Capt Goh on Friday – when he returned from a flight – of its intention to cancel his entry and re-entry permits, which are necessary for PRs here.

‘Mr Goh will no longer be a permanent resident of Singapore once his Entry Permit and Re-Entry Permits are cancelled,’ the ICA said in a statement in response to queries from The Sunday Times.

‘Mr Goh was informed that he may, within the next seven days, make written representation to the Controller of Immigration against such action.’

The 43-year-old Malaysian citizen, who has been a Singapore PR since 1981, said last night that the decision was ‘disappointing’.

‘I intend to appeal and I hope the authorities will look at my appeal favourably.

‘This is after all my home. I have been here for 26 years,’ was all he wanted to say when asked about the ICA statement.

The ICA said it acted against him after the Home Affairs Minister ‘decided that Mr Goh was an undesirable immigrant’ as defined by Section 8(3)(k) of the Immigration Act.

Section 8(3) of the Act defines persons who are considered prohibited immigrants and therefore barred from Singapore. This includes ‘an undesirable immigrant’ as defined in Section 8(3)(k) which reads:

‘Any person who, in consequence of information received from any source or from any government through official or diplomatic channels, is considered by the Minister to be an undesirable immigrant.’

The ICA added that the Controller of Immigration will decide whether to cancel the entry and re-entry permits issued to Capt Goh ‘and to declare his presence in Singapore unlawful after considering his written representation, if any’.

Capt Goh was singled out by Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew at an Istana meeting with pilots on Feb 26 for ‘instigating’ a leadership ouster in the Air Line Pilots Association Singapore (Alpa-S) last November.

At the meeting, he was accused of working behind the scenes, crafting a petition to oust the council, but not signing it himself.

It was revealed that prior to his moves against the union leadership, he had, in November 2002, accepted Australian PR. He bought a house in Perth, moved his wife and children and shipped his car there, and had sold his flat in Toa Payoh.

The upshot was that Capt Goh had kept secret his plans to widen his options while he moved behind the scenes to undermine industrial peace in SIA, which would also affect the interests of Singapore.

Pilots contacted yesterday were shocked at the news.”

To sum it up briefly and to share the lessons to be drawn here:
I would like to point out that Lee Kuan Yew has always put Singapore’s interest FIRST.
Nobody, nothing is being allowed to post a threat to disrupt or destabilize Singapore.

Before you lend your support to anyone’s agenda, ask yourself: where does their ‘interest’ lie?
Are they really doing things for your (Singaporeans) benefits?
Or are they doing it for their own personal benefits?

There has always been people out there (both from outside the country and within the country) to undermine Singapore.

If you do not keep your eyes open, you will be mislead, shoot yourself in the foot, and ruin your children’s future.

Check Also

These 7 Red Flags May Mean That You Are Busier Than You Should Be

Modern life is incredibly competitive and fast-paced, and it’s normal for people to respond that …