Today marks the 11th anniversary of the death of Dr Goh Keng Swee. People closer to me would be aware that he was a major influence to my choice of studying Economics, and particularly in the London School of Economics & Political Science. And he passed away about 4.5 months before I’d commence my BSc Economics at the LSE.
Ironically, I had in my youth, developed that aspiration to share the same spaces, breathe the foreign air and perhaps share in the magic of London city that Dr Goh had experienced so many years ago. It was a hope that I may come to share in a small slice of common academic pedigree and taste a bit of what went into his observations and thoughts in the days of nation-building in Singapore.
And I worked hard in my youth towards this aspiration. Eventually, I earned a scholarship from International Enterprise Singapore just a couple months shy of my matriculation. A year prior I had already secured my place in the LSE to be on exactly the programme Dr Goh did as part of his undergraduate days.
Even today, I continue to marvel at the mind that came up with Jurong Bird Park, GIC, CPF, EDB, National Service, Sentosa, Jurong Industrial Estate, the decision to continue the currency board system MAS manages, our export-oriented strategy. Lest I ascribe too much credit to him for the fruits of these ideas, I think it was also the time he lived in, the allies he had which helped to push through all of these and made the modern Singapore a reality.
But all those were early days of nation-hood; that nostalgia should only serve to motivate us to move forward. The context of our country both internally and externally have become much more complex – and we need to find a reason to progress that fits our current context and stage of development. A new narrative for the new generation is needed.