In less than 24 hours, the current chapter of Singapore would conclude, making way for a brand new one. The baton would be passed and a new leadership would emerge.
Sure, it’s been 14 years in making but it doesn’t make this any less exciting. And a little surreal.
Back in 1990, when PM Goh was sworn in as the prime minister, I was but a wee kid in awe of SM Lee Kuan Yew. SM Lee was, and still is, my hero because I truly believe that without him, there will be no Singapore. I didn’t know much about PM Goh and the subsequent flash election that he called. I went on my way in life.
Over the past 14 years, Singapore faced battle after battle. From the 1997 shock economy crash, to the horrors of September 11 and the subsequent economic slowdown, to the wearisome quarrels with our neighbour to last year’s Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak – we have fought bravely and emerged scarred but triumphant. We owe our nation’s survival to the man steering our ship through such troubled waters, the man who did not wear the shoes of his predecessor but led the country in his own gentle yet steely manner.
We owe it to PM Goh.
I was picnicking with some friends at Tanjong Rhu on National Day and we had a teeny radio on. As we sat patiently, waiting for the fireworks display, the radio deejay announced the arrival of PM Goh. Spontaneously, we all cheered loudly for him.
And this is how we will remember his “reign” – a sweet mix of fondness and good cheer, sprinkled with some gratitude.
Tomorrow, he will relinquish the leader’s mantle to DPM Lee Hsien Loong.
It’s going to be odd not to refer to him as PM Goh but as SM Goh, just like SM Lee’s amusing transformation to MM Lee (what were they thinking of?).
But we’ll get by.