On May 14, 2010, the nation bade farewell to one of its founding fathers, former Deputy Prime Minister Goh Keng Swee, with a heavy heart.
Dr Goh passed away at the age of 91 after a long illness, leaving behind widow Dr Phua Swee Liang, son Kian Chee and daughter-in-law, two grandsons and three great-grandsons. He had devoted 25 years of his life to serving the nation in the ministries of defence, finance and education.
Born into a middle-income Peranakan family in Malacca, he came to Singapore when he was two years old. His early education was at Anglo-Chinese School (1927–1936) and later at Raffles College (1936–1939).
Armed with a diploma in arts, he entered the colonial civil service in 1939, but his career was interrupted by the Japanese Occupation. He rejoined the civil service in 1946 and his outstanding performance earned him a scholarship to study statistics at the London School of Economics (LSE) in 1947. During his stay in London, he started the Malayan Forum, an anti-colonial political group, with some fellow students including Lee Kuan Yew and Toh Chin Chye. Goh became its first chairman.
In 1951, he graduated from LSE with a first class honours in economics and won the William Farr Prize. He resumed work in the civil service back in Singapore, but later returned to LSE for further studies in 1954 and obtained his Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1956. Among Dr Goh’s many achievements in helping to bring about this transformation was his role in establishing the Economic Development Board (EDB) in 1961, the Jurong Industrial Estate in 1962 (which he promoted in spite of severe public criticism, though it turned out to be the right move) and the Development Bank of Singapore (DBS) in 1968. These institutions have made, and continue to make, vital contributions to Singapore’s economic success. Dr Goh was also responsible for developing the economic strategy that is crucial to explaining Singapore’s economic takeoff. Between...