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Goh Chok Tong becomes prime minister of Singapore 28th Nov 1990

Goh Chok Tong was formally sworn in as the second prime minister of Singapore on 28 November 1990. He took over the post from Lee Kuan Yew, who had served as the first prime minister of Singapore since June 1959.[1] Prior to becoming prime minister, Goh held numerous appointments in the government. He was Senior Minister of State for Finance from September 1977 to March 1979 before serving as Minister for Trade and Industry until January 1981. Thereafter, Goh held the portfolios of Trade and Industry, Health as well as Defence until he was appointed First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence in January 1985. He became prime minister in November 1990 and also held the concurrent post of Minister for Defence. Besides these appointments, Goh has been the member of parliament for Marine Parade constituency (later reconstituted as Marine Parade Group Representation Constituency or GRC in 1988) since1976.[2]

Goh’s swearing-in ceremony was held at the same City Hall chamber where Lee was sworn in as prime minister  in 1959.[3] During the ceremony, Goh took his oath as prime minister and received the scroll of appointment from then President Wee Kim Wee. This was followed by the swearing in of the rest of his cabinet members beginning with Lee who was sworn in to his new appointment as Senior Minister. Goh then gave a speech during which he paid tribute to Lee before promising to rally the country to “run the next lap together”.[4]

The appointment of Goh as prime minister was part of the leadership renewal process envisaged by the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) shortly after the 1984 parliamentary general election.[5] The aim of the renewal process was to replace the first generation leaders or “the old guard”, who had been leading Singapore under the stewardship of Lee Kuan Yew, with a new generation of leaders. Comprising people like Lee Hsien Loong, this group of second generation leaders was younger and thus in a better position to engage the more educated and vocal younger Singaporeans.[6] Indeed, Singapore under Goh’s leadership was different compared with that under Lee. Goh heralded in a more consultative style of government and politics. He was credited for setting up Community Development Councils (CDCs) and Government Parliamentary Committees, as well as introducing Edusave, Medifund and the Nominated Member of Parliament scheme.[7] Economically, Goh continued Singapore’s stellar growth. The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) per capita increased from S$21,950 in 1990 to S$38,023 in 2003.[8] On the political front, Goh led the PAP to victory in the 1991, 1997 and 2001 parliamentary general elections.[9]

Goh served as prime minister for 14 years before he handed over the reins of government to Lee Hsien Loong, who was sworn in as the third prime minister of Singapore on 12 August 2004.[10]

1. Henson, B. (1990, November 28). Chok Tong formally appointed prime ministerThe Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Nice guys do win. (1990, November 28). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Tan, S., et al. (1990, November 29). Congratulations, PM Goh! The Straits Times, p. 20. Mehta, H. (1990, October 16). Chok Tong to be sworn in as PM on Nov 28. The Business Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Henson, B. (1990, November 29). PM Goh's plan for S'pore. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Orderly transition. (1988, July 23). The Straits Times, p. 22; Smooth change of PMs ‘result of careful planning’. (1990, November 17). The Straits Times, p. 29. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. The Straits Times, 23 Jul 1988, p. 22.
7. Walking tall......in his own shoes. (2004, August 11). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Chua, M. H. (2004, August 9). PM says 'thank you' to nationThe Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. History of the PAP through a veteran's eyes. (2004, November 8). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. The Straits Times, 9 Aug 2004, p. 1; Zuraidah Ibrahim. (2004, August 13). Let us shape our future together. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.


The information in this article is valid as at 2014 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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