DR.GOH KENG SWEE HIS LIFE AND CONTRIBUTIONS TO SINGAPORE
Background Goh Keng Swee was born in Malacca in the Straits Settlements on 6 October 1918 into a middle-income Peranakan family, the fifth of six children. His father Goh Leng Inn was a manager of a rubber plantation, while his mother Tan Swee Engwas from the family that produced the Malaysian politicians Tun Tan Cheng Lock and his son Tun Tan Siew Sin, who would later become Goh's lifelong political opponent. Goh was given the Christian name Robert, which he disliked and refused to respond to. When he was two years old, his family moved from Malacca to Singapore where his maternal grandparents owned several properties. The Gohs later relocated to the Pasir Panjang rubber estate when his father found work there, and became manager in 1933.
Background & Career After studying at the Anglo-Chinese Primary School and the Anglo-Chinese Secondary Schoolbetween 1927 and 1936, Goh went on to graduate from Raffles College in 1939 with a Class II Diploma in Arts with a special distinction in economics. He then joined the colonial Civil Service as a tax collector with the War Tax Department. Shortly after the start of World War II, he joined the Singapore Volunteer Corps, a local militia, but returned to his previous work after the fall of Singapore. Goh married Alice Woon, a secretary who was a colleague, in 1942 and they had their only child, Goh Kian Chee, two years later. .
In 1945 he relocated his young family to Malacca, but they returned to Singapore the following year after the Japanese occupation ended. That year, he joined the Department of Social Welfare, and was active in post-war administration. He became supervisor of the Department's Research Section six months later. Goh won a scholarship which enabled him to further his studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). During his time in London. A student discussion group, the Malayan Forum, was organized in 1948 with Goh as the founding chairman. Goh graduated with first class honours in economics in 1951, and won the William Farr Prize for achieving the highest marks in statistics. Upon his return to the Department of Social Welfare, he was appointed assistant secretary of its Research Section
Political Career In 1958 he resigned from the Civil Service to work full-time for the People’s Action Party(PAP), becoming a key member and later vice-chairman of its Central Executive Committee. The following year he successfully contested the Kreta Ayer seat in the 1959 general election for the Legislative Assembly , and joined the first government of Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew as Minister for Finance. Upon Singapore's independence on 9 August 1965, Goh became the nation's first Minister for Interior and Defence. He subsequently served as Finance Minister (1967–1970), Minister for defence(1970–1979) and Minister for Education(1979–1980, 1981–1984).
Contributions to Singapore Politics He was anti-colonial in his outlook during the pre-independence years. He founded the Malayan Forum in 1949 - a political discussion group comprising Malayan and Singaporean students in London. The group met regularly to rally support for the decolonisation of and independence for Malaya and Singapore. It was through the Forum that he met Toh Chin Chye and Lee Kuan Yew. He entered politics and he was elected as MP for Kreta Ayer on 30 May 1959. He was its MP till his retirement from politics in Dec 1984
Contributions to Singapore Economic He spearheaded many of the most impressive public policy achievements in Singapore: Economic Development Board (EDB), the Development Bank of Singapore (DBS), the Jurong Industrial Estate. His thoughts on economic growth contrasted sharply with the vast majority of his counterparts in other Third World governments. His decidedly conservative approach to public finance stands out. Together with Lee Kuan Yew in 1965, they decided that Singapore's central bank, Monetary Authority of Singapore will not have currency issuing power. Singapore remained one of few independent states to issue currency under a currency board until 2003. He was instrumental in the founding of Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). He "undertook major restructuring of MAS' key functions - monetary policy, reserve management, and supervision and development of the financial sector".
Contributions to Singapore Defence He built up the foundations of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). SAF was based on a concept of a combination of conscription and a professional military on the model of the Israeli Army. He played a key role in setting up the local defence technology section, beginning with the establishment of Chartered Industries of Singapore in 1967. This became a model for the mushrooming of other state-owned enterprises or government-linked companies and a basis for the latter evolution of Singapore Technologies as a multinational company.
Contributions to Singapore Education His Goh Report published in 1979 led to a major overhaul of primary and secondary schooling in Singapore. Streaming was introduced. Its recommendations underpin much of the Singapore school curriculum even today. The report's message - education is the key to economic development and that the education system should be sufficiently flexible to accommodate, reflect and reinforce development needs
Contributions to Singapore Others He served as chairman of the Institute of East Asian Philosophies, which was formed in 1983 and had spearheaded the Singapore government's promotion of Confucianism. In 1990, when the institute was renamed as Institute of East Asian Political Economy (IEAPE). Dr Goh continued to serve as the chairman. IEAPE served as a government think-tank on contemporary China as information on China at that point was limited. Through his initiative, Jurong Bird Park and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra were set up.
Thank you for your kind attention Kavithaa Dania Nisha