The Reform Party Extends its Condolences on the Death of Dr. Toh Chin ChyePublished: 4th February 2012
I extend my deepest personal condolences to the grandchildren, son-in-law, and other members of his family on the passing of their beloved grandfather, Dr. Toh Chin Chye. We note with sadness that his only child died just a few years ago. Her loss must have been a bitter blow. Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.
Dr. Toh Chin Chye played a major role in the formation of the PAP and in the early development of Singapore. Among his innovations was the introduction of a cadre system in the PAP which was subsequently copied by almost all the other parties in Singapore. As Vice-Chancellor of NUS, Dr. Toh was also a leading figure in shaping the development of higher education in Singapore.
As a backbencher from 1981 onwards he was not worried about speaking his mind. After he retired from Parliament in 1988 he was inevitably less in the public eye. However his words in a radio interview in 1997 are of great relevance to the current debate over Ministerial salaries and accord strikingly with the Reform Party’s press release and my analysis on my blog www.sonofadud.com.
The PAP government has not wavered from its long-standing claim that enormous salaries are necessary to attract top talent. Both the Reform Party and I have by contrast drawn attention to the fact that excessive salaries for Ministers mainly serve to buy loyalty and ensure yes-men rather than attract talent. If the government was truly interested in the best ideas then they would not try so hard to crush dissent and restrict freedom of expression.
Dr. Toh arrived at the same conclusions first back in 1997 when he said in a radio interview:
“I would say the generation of the ‘50s and ‘60s took the plunge into politics without ever calculating the costs of the risk and the benefits to be gained. They were driven by ideology. Today’s generation has no culture and averse to taking political risk. Really, an interest in politics is very necessary for the future.
But I cannot blame the present generations, because they see the heavy-handed response by the government to dissenting views, even though they know that these matters involve their daily lives.
So the result is that we have produced a younger generation who are meek and therefore very calculating. They are less independent-thinking and lack in initiative. It does not bode well for the emergence of future leaders in politics and business. Robots and computers can be programmed or if you like, can be trained. But the trouble, of course, is that computers lack soul and what we need in Singapore is soul. Because it is soul that makes society”
The problems he so presciently anticipated have only got worse since he spoke.