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Former GIC investment chief Ng Kok Song announces presidency bid, says he is 'above politics' and...


Mr Ng Kok Song at the Elections Department on July 19, 2023.
  • Former GIC investment chief Ng Kok Song, 75, announced his presidential bid at the Elections Department (ELD) on Wednesday (July 19)

  • He told the media that he is "above politics", having no prior links to any political party

  • Mr Ng said it is important for good people to step forward and serve the country

  • This is given the recent "deluge of negative news" that has raised concerns about integrity and personal probity of public service holders, he added.

  • His fiancee Sybil Lau and his three children and their spouses accompanied him, and Ms Lau gave short remarks to the media

SINGAPORE — Former GIC investment chief Ng Kok Song, 75, announced his presidential bid at the Elections Department (ELD) on Wednesday (July 19).

In a statement handed to the media outside ELD at Novena Rise, Mr Ng cited his involvement in building up Singapore's reserves for 45 years at sovereign wealth fund GIC and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) as a reason for his decision, noting that the President has a "critical role" to safeguard the reserves.


Without giving details, Mr Ng said that "concerns about the integrity of our national institutions" convinced him to stand for President.


He was accompanied by his fiancee, Ms Sybil Lau, 45, as well as his three children Terence, Deborah and Georgina and their spouses.


Ms Lau also gave short remarks in English and Mandarin to the media, saying that she and the family support Mr Ng's bid for the presidency.


In his statement, Mr Ng said he is contesting the election because the people of Singapore do not want a walkover.


"I am standing so that you can choose your President," said Mr Ng, who collected his nomination forms at ELD at around 11am.


Adding that he is "above politics", Mr Ng, who retired from GIC in 2013, said he has never been affiliated to any political party and is independent. He later founded asset management company Avanda Investment Management in 2015.


Stating that there are uncertain and difficult times ahead, Mr Ng said an independent President will be able to unite the country to face such a future. Singapore also needs a President who is independent of any political party to safeguard the integrity of its institutions, he said.


Said Mr Ng: "I have never been a political figure. My work has been professional and low-key. I never sought the limelight. I concentrated on my public responsibilities."


"Many people in the public service would know me or have heard of me. But I am aware that many Singaporeans do not know me. I will put that right in the coming weeks," he added.


'DELUGE OF NEGATIVE NEWS' PUSHED HIM FORWARD


Speaking to the media outside ELD on Wednesday, Mr Ng said he has been mulling over the decision to stand for election "for some months".

He noted that the recent "deluge of negative news" has raised concerns about integrity and personal probity of public service holders.


"So I feel that at a time like this, it is so important that good people should come forward to serve the country because the future of Singapore depends critically on good people coming forward to serve the country," he said.


"Unless more of such Singaporeans come forward, whether it's to serve in Government or the Opposition, how are we going to have the fifth generation leadership?"


He said that he hopes to be declared eligible for the race on the basis of his public service experience, and not based on the fact that he runs an investment management firm.


Under the public sector service requirements laid out in Singapore's Constitution, presidential candidates must have held office in one of the following positions for at least three years: A minister, Chief Justice, Speaker of Parliament, Attorney-General, chairman of the Public Service Commission, Auditor-General, Accountant-General, permanent secretary, or have served as chief executive in a key statutory board or government company.


Asked if he was worried about being seen as part of the establishment given his decades of working in GIC and MAS, Mr Ng stressed that he is an independent candidate.


"We must make a distinction between (the) establishment and government or the ruling party. I have never been a member of any political party. I have never been a member of the People's Action Party," he said.


"But it's inevitable that when you serve in public service at the highest level, you interact with ministers with permanent secretaries. So yes, I have been a member of the establishment but I have never been a member of any political party. So I'm independent."


He was also asked for his comments on online speculation that he is running not to win but to ensure a contest and split votes.


To this, he responded: "At 75 years old. I'm coming forward to serve my country. This will entail some sacrifice on my part. Maybe some suffering involved. Would I endure all this suffering, will my family endure all this suffering and sacrifice for the sake of just splitting the votes? No."


He added: "I am prepared and my family are prepared for us to endure this suffering. Because we want to serve Singapore because it is in the best interest of Singapore. That is the basis of my decision."


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