Even as Singapore's political parties are preparing for GE2020, three People's Action Party (PAP) members announced their resignation with less than a week to Nomination Day (30 June). The three ex-heavyweights millionaires are Yaacob Ibrahim, Goh Chok Tong and Khaw Boon Wan, who were all once Cabinet Ministers.
As these men bid farewell to politics, let us remember them for some of their more memorable quotes.
Yaacob Ibrahim had been MP for Jalan Besar GRC. In a recent attempt to pander to residents, Yaacob Ibrahim wrote about foreign workers and foreign domestic workers who "inconvenienced" residents by congregating at an open field next to Kallang MRT Station. He put up a Facebook post showing a picture of this empty field and wrote "But it takes a virus to empty the space." Many called this post as being insensitive and discriminatory against migrant workers.
Back in 2017, Yaacob Ibrahim insulted Singaporeans by insenstively opening a World War II gallery space at the Former Ford Factory named "Syonan Gallery: War and Its Legacies". By honoring the gallery after a name given to Singapore by the Japanese invaders, Yaacob Ibrahim evoked deep hurt across generations of Singaporeans who faced the horrors of war when Singapore was renamed as Syonanto.
Goh Chok Tong
Goh Chok Tong could be the most prominent of the three retirees because he was once Prime Minister. However many will also remember him for his elitist comments.
"I'm telling you the ministers are not paid enough. And down the road, we're going to have a problem getting people to join government. Because civil servants now earn more than ministers. Are you aware of that? So where do you want to get your ministers from? From people who earn only $500,000 a year?… You're going to end up with very mediocre people who can't even earn a million dollars outside."
"Retrenchment is good for Singapore. If there is no retrenchments, then I worry."
His wife Tan Choo Leng also revealed how high they were in the ivory tower. When the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) was probing ex-CEO Durai over his $600,000 annual salary, Tan Choo Leng defended Durai by saying that "for a person who runs a big million-dollar charitable organisation, with a few hundred million in reserves, $600,000 a year is peanuts."
Khaw Boon Wan
Khaw Boon Wan could be remembered most for his role in the Transport Ministry. His performance in this particular Ministry is notable due to the series of disruptive MRT breakdowns which paralyzed our public transport system. Like his peers, Khaw Boon Wan has been called out for his elitist and disconnected remarks:
"I work hard, I earn more, my Medisave is bigger. You're lazy, you work less, your Medisave is small."
"In Japan, the chairman and CEO would call a press conference, take a deep bow and, in the good old days, they may even commit hara-kiri."
"Singaporeans could consider living in nursing homes in Johor Bahru. It would be cheaper."
"When we said that families with $1,000 household income could afford two-room flats, we were not imagining things."
These quotes are some examples of other comments they have made. It comes as no surprise that there are Singaporeans online who have bid them good riddance.