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August 04 , 2007

Goh Keng Swee

A Legacy of Public Service


Dr. Goh Keng Swee's extensive career as a public servant was dynamic as well as distinguished, in many ways decisively instrumental in the making of the Republic of Singapore. This distinctive collection of essays attempts an assessment of the long-term influence and significance of Dr. Goh's major contributions.

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Envisaged as a companion volume to Goh Keng Swee: A Public Career Remembered, this volume brings together an exceptional team of Singaporean scholars whose interdisciplinary expertise and cross-generational perspectives offer a balanced analysis and nuanced appraisal of Dr. Goh's lifetime of public service. The book's contributors argue that Dr. Goh's past endeavours bequeathed an enduring legacy, meriting fresh examination and careful evaluation in order to appreciate the heroic scale of such achievement.

Particularly instructive are the examples of Dr. Goh's thinking patriotism, fiscal prudence, strategic pragmatism, and creative imagination at work — technocracy at its finest — which could be of immediate, practical benefit to a wider ‘nation of technocrats’. Further illumination comes from the insights of those contributors who had worked with the former Deputy Prime Minister and knew him personally. For a half-century that witnessed key turning points and phases of development in Singapore's transformation from colonial port city to independent global city, Dr. Goh played a leading role in the crafting and conduct of public policy, as with the creation of public institutions, which made the difference between survival and success.

The organization of this volume reflects both a thematic approach and a chronological arrangement of material, the focus and the order of chapters corresponding to the historical sequence of public offices that Dr. Goh held: social welfare; political and constitutional evolution; development economics and finance; the armed forces and defence industry; the education system, from schools through higher education to the research institutes; Chinese studies, from Confucianism to ‘China watching’; and cultural development, with special emphasis on the creation of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.

Goh Keng Swee: A Legacy of Public Service will be read by present and future generations of public servants, by Singaporeans in general, and by all students and laypersons with an interest in the modern history of Singapore — social, economic, political, military, and cultural — to which a characteristically simple and frugal Dr. Goh contributed both decisively and unreservedly.

  • Introduction — Goh Keng Swee: Heroic Public Servant and History-Maker of Modern Singapore (Emrys Chew)
  • Goh Keng Swee in a Social Welfare History of Singapore (Ho Chi Tim)
  • Goh Keng Swee in Politics and Parliament (Kevin Y L Tan)
  • Goh Keng Swee, the Development Economist (Lee Soo Ann)
  • Goh Keng Swee and Finance (Linda Low)
  • Goh Keng Swee and the Emergence of a Modern SAF: The Rearing of a Poisonous Shrimp (Bernard Fook Weng Loo)
  • Goh Keng Swee and Singapore's Defence Industrial Policy (Adrian Wee Jin Kuah)
  • Goh Keng Swee and the Singapore Education System (Alistair Chew)
  • Goh Keng Swee's Contributions to Higher Education, Military Studies, and the Research Institutes (Ernest Chew)
  • Goh Keng Swee and Chinese Studies in Singapore: From Confucianism to ‘China Watching’ (John Wong)
  • Goh Keng Swee's Cultural Contributions and the Making of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (Bernard T G Tan)
  • Concluding Reflections: Goh Keng Swee as a 'Great Man' (Kwa Chong Guan)

Readership: Researchers, academics, undergraduates and graduates, in addition to professionals and the general public interested in politics, history, and Singapore's founding fathers.
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