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Singapore bids final farewell to Dr. Goh Keng Swee

By Terence

Singapore bade a final farewell to one of its founding fathers, Dr. Goh Keng Swee, in a solemn State Funeral service on Sunday afternoon at the Singapore Conference Hall.

In his eulogy, PM Lee Hsien Loong traced Dr. Goh’s life-long contribution to Singapore.

He reflected how Dr. Goh introduced drastic measures to cut government spending, including civil service salaries, when he was appointed Finance Minister in 1959.

PM Lee said: “This was obviously unpopular, but Dr. Goh stood firm… Dr. Goh set the tone for the PAP government, which ever since has steadfastly upheld budget discipline and fiscal prudence.”

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew also praised Dr. Goh for being the man “who made the greatest difference to the outcome for Singapore”.

He said his ex-colleague was “hopeless as a campaign orator” but one who had a formidable analytical mind.

MM Lee said, “He was my trouble-shooter. I gave him the toughest jobs in government: the Ministry of Finance from 1959 to 1965 when economic survival was crucial; Ministry of Defence in 1965 when all we had were two battalions of the Singapore Infantry Regiment.

“With his passing, we have lost a remarkable and outstanding son,” he added.

But perhaps the most touching eulogies came from Dr. Goh’s beloved grandson and grandniece.

Goh Ken-Yi, 37, recounted his earliest memories of his grandfather — spending weekends with him as a child. He recounted how his grandfather would sometimes fall asleep while telling him bedtime stories after a hard day’s work.

“Today, as I listen to what people say and read the newspapers about how, despite his busy schedule he was always concerned about the welfare of labourers, hawkers, soldiers, men in the street, I marvel at how this is so in keeping with the selfless and caring grandfather I saw at home,” he said.

Marian Hui, Dr. Goh’s 15-year-old grand-niece, said her grand-uncle was her inspiration.

In a voice trembling with emotion, she said, “On behalf of young Singaporeans, I thank you for your selfless gift of yourself. On behalf of young Singaporeans, I salute you for your profound dedication and immeasurable sacrifice as a founding father of our nation.”

She concluded tearfully: “Rest assured, dear Grand Uncle, that this will not be my final gift to you. Because you inspired me to believe that one day, I can be the one to make that difference in the hearts of others and I will find the difference I can make, because you always believed me in and indeed everyone who calls Singapore our home.”

The state funeral came after Dr Goh’s body lay in state in Parliament for four days during which over 18,000 people from all walks of life came to pay their final respects.

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