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In emotional visit to site of childhood home, Ng Kok Song kowtows and kisses ground

Presidential candidate Ng Kok Song was visibly emotional as he visited the site of the village where he grew up in Hougang. PHOTO: AsiaOne

Presidential candidate Ng Kok Song was visibly emotional as he arrived at Block 475A Upper Serangoon Crescent today - the former site of the village where he was born in.

Earlier on Tuesday (Aug 22) morning, he was nominated as a candidate for the upcoming Presidential Election, alongside former Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and former NTUC chief executive officer Tan Kin Lian.

Upon reaching the void deck, the emotional Ng knelt to the ground and kissed the floor.

Sharing with reporters why that void deck was the "first place" that he came to after being nominated as a presidential candidate, Ng said: "My son told me just now that this is the exact spot where I lived with my five brothers and five sisters, in a hut with an attap roof... with no modern sanitation.

Ng, who is the second eldest in his family, went on: "My older brother and I had to go to the public water tap to carry home pails of water; that's why just now I was filled with emotion. I knelt down to kiss the ground where I was born and where I grew up."

Identifying himself as a "Kangkar person", Ng shared that as a boy, his mother used to tell him to be a "good person", and to "try to do good work".

"This area of Upper Serangoon is where I had the fortune of learning to be a good boy, and to be a good man." He also credited his education at Monfort School, where he studied for 13 years, for enabling him to break out of poverty.

Kangkar village was formerly located at the end of Upper Serangoon Road, near the mouth of Serangoon River. The village was given its name by the Teochews, which means "river bank".

The former GIC investment chief officer then went on to share an anecdote from his childhood involving his mother.

Ng, said his mother went to their neighbours to borrow money to pay for his school books when he was 12.

"She came home with tears in her eyes and said, 'Kok Song, the neighbours have got no more money to lend us.' So she cried, and I felt very sad," recounted a teary Ng.

"That was the moment I resolved [to not make] my mother cry again. So I studied hard; I behaved myself. I worked hard and as a result I was able to lift my family out of poverty."

"My dream now is to see my mother cry again, not because of sadness but because of joy - because her son is standing to be the president of Singapore."

When asked by AsiaOne about the one thing he could say to his mother, Ng replied: "Thank you mum, you are my hero. You are my hero because you brought me up together with my five brothers and sisters single-handedly. Mum, you are the hero of my life."

Self-help, government's help and president's help

Now that he's been nominated as a presidential candidate, Ng revealed that the central message of his campaign is for the young people of Singapore to prepare themselves for the future.

"The opportunities will be there but we have to prepare ourselves for the future in three ways - self-help, government's help and the president's help."

Elaborating on the three facets of his message, Ng said that self help meant equipping oneself with skills such as self-confidence, financial literacy and emotional resilience.

On government's help, Ng said that Singapore has "considerable savings in our reserves". And that the investment returns generated from these savings can be used to uplift the poor, "to help Singaporeans in times of difficulty".

When it comes to the president's help, Ng said he hopes to become a "meditating president", so that he can encourage Singaporeans to pick up the art of meditation - a tool he credits for helping him deal with stress over the years.

On being outnumbered and boo-ed

During the interview, Ng was also asked to share his thoughts about being outnumbered in terms of the number of supporters who turned up at the nomination centre this morning.

This morning, large groups of people dressed in maroon turned up to show their support for Tharman, while Tan and Ng's supporters were scattered around the area.

There were also some hecklers who were heard booing Ng as he addressed the crowd after returning officer announced his nomination.

Prefacing that he was an "underdog" candidate because he is not endorsed by the government, Ng said he intends to overcome the issue by "speaking from [his] heart by speaking to the heart of Singaporeans".

"The people who were booing and shouting, they are what I call the vocal minority. The silent majority are at home, they are the ones that matter to me."


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