ESM Goh Chok Tong undergoes successful surgery for prostate cancer

Emeritus Senior Minister (ESM) Goh Chok Tong underwent a successful surgery for prostate cancer on Saturday. -- PHOTO: MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Emeritus Senior Minister (ESM) Goh Chok Tong underwent a successful surgery for prostate cancer on Saturday. -- PHOTO: MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

SINGAPORE - Scores of Singaporeans have been sending their wishes for a speedy recovery to Emeritus Senior Minister (ESM) Goh Chok Tong, who underwent successful surgery on Saturday for prostate cancer.

Many, including grassroots leaders and volunteers who work with him in his Marine Parade ward, were surprised by news of his cancer, although book publisher Tan Wu Cheng said that his keeping quiet about it was typical of Mr Goh's low-key style.

"He likes to keep a low-profile. He doesn't want to worry his residents as he knows we will be quite bothered about it," said the volunteer, who has been with Mr Goh since he was elected MP for Marine Parade in 1976.

A statement from Mr Goh's press secretary on Saturday evening said the 73-year-old, who was prime minister from 1990 to 2004, had successful surgery.

His doctor, Dr Sim Hong Gee, senior consultant urologist in Gleneagles Hospital and visiting consultant at Singapore General Hospital, said Mr Goh is expected to make a full recovery as the cancer was localised and detected early. He will remain at SGH for a few days for observation.

Mr Goh, who had been holidaying in Fukuoka, Japan last week and returned home on Thursday, was expected to be present at a dinner and awards ceremony on Saturday night to mark the 60th anniversary of the People Action's Party.

Fellow Marine Parade GRC MP Seah Kian Peng told The Straits Times at the dinner that Mr Goh told him he would be going for an operation.

"I didn't get into the details ... Of course today he released a statement and the important thing is we're very happy that it was a very successful operation. Personally, knowing ESM, I'm quite sure he will come back stronger. I join all Singaporeans and residents in wishing ESM a full and speedy recovery."

More well-wishes and comments came in via social media, including on Mr Goh's Facebook page, MParader.

They included one from Kevin Quek: "Get better soon. And u would also be a good person to bring awareness to this problem n encourage early detection n treatment."

Added Anthony Ng, in a sentiment many others expressed: "Speedy recovery ESM Goh. Good leaders shall not be forgotten after all the good work you've done for Singapore."

Fellow Marine Parade MP and Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin's Facebook post wishing him a "smooth and speedy recovery" drew nearly 700 likes and 70 comments.

So too did Ms Tin Pei Ling, another Marine Parade GRC MP, who posted her wishes for a "speedy recovery!" That attracted 103 likes and 16 comments shortly after it was posted.

Prostate cancer is the third most common cancer among Singapore men after colorectal and lung cancer. The cancer forms in tissues of the prostate - a gland in the male reproductive system below the bladder - and usually occurs in older men.

waltsim@sph.com.sg