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Ng Kok Song: From growing up in Sengkang fishing village to GIC chief investment officer and...'

Mr Ng Kok Song accompanied by his fiancee Sybil Lau at the Elections Department on July 19, 2023.
  • Mr Ng Kok Song, 75, announced on Wednesday (July 19) his intention to contest the upcoming Presidential Election

  • He is best known for his previous role as chief investment officer at Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC

  • After retiring from GIC in 2013, he co-founded Avanda Investment Management in 2015 and currently serves as the chairman of the private hedge fund

  • Mr Ng also made headlines previously for teaching founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew how to meditate

  • Mr Ng grew up in a Sengkang fishing village and once described in an interview his humble beginnings

SINGAPORE — Mr Ng Kok Song, 75, who on Wednesday (July 19) announced his intention to contest the upcoming Presidential Election, is best known for his previous role as chief investment officer at Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC.

After retiring from GIC in 2013, he co-founded Avanda Investment Management in 2015 and currently serves as the chairman of the private hedge fund.

The fund’s assets more than doubled to around US$10 billion (S$13.22 billion) since its founding, reported Bloomberg news agency in 2022.

Presently, Mr Ng is the Chairman Emeritus of the Wealth Management Institute, which was established in 2003 by GIC and state investment firm Temasek Holdings and is a training provider at Nanyang Technological University.

He also sits on the board of directors of Temasek Holdings-linked investment platform 65 Entity Partners, as well as the board of governors of the Asia School of Business in Malaysia and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. In addition, he is a member of the Global Advisory board of American investment firm Pimco, alongside other notables such as former United States Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke and former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Born the second child out of 11, Mr Ng came from humble beginnings. His father worked as a fish auctioneer at a fish market and was the sole breadwinner of the family, he said in a statement handed out to media at the Election Department on Wednesday.

The family lived in a thatched roof house in Kangkar, where Sengkang is today, the statement added.

Growing up, he was responsible for caring for his younger siblings and feeding the family’s chickens and also helped his father sort fish at the local market.

He studied at the nearby Montfort School, where he met his wife Patricia. They got married in 1972 and she died in 2005.

"One of the things which made me sad was my mother having to borrow money from neighbours when things got desperate,” he told The Straits Times in 2012.

He excelled in school, and eventually graduated with a physics degree from the University of Singapore with a Public Service Commission scholarship, and later obtained a Master’s degree in management from Stanford University in the US.

He started his career in public service at the Finance Ministry from 1970 to 1971 and working at the Monetary Authority of Singapore from 1972 to 1986.

Mr Ng joined GIC in 1986 and rose to be its chief investment officer in 2007 before retiring in 2013 after 27 years at the firm.

In that time, he led GIC through the 1998 Asian currency crisis, the 2001 dot-com bust and the 2008 global financial crisis. In 2012, he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.

From 2013 to 2018, Mr Ng served on the board of Singapore Exchange (SGX), and was the founding chairman of the Singapore International Monetary Exchange which was incorporated into SGX as its derivatives arm.

A devout Catholic, Mr Ng made headlines when it became known that he taught Christian meditation to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, even though Singapore's founding prime minister was not a Christian.

Mr Lee had told the New York Times in an interview in 2010 that he started meditating about two to three years before that after noticing that Mr Ng looked "completely serene" and finding out that Mr Ng's late wife was also totally serene when dying of cancer as they both meditated everyday.

Mr Ng is an executive committee member of the World Community for Christian Meditation, a Britain-based organisation which promotes a form of meditation developed by a Benedictine monk. He is also the community's national coordinator for Singapore.

He has also received honours from the French government for his contributions as a member of Agence France Tresor, an organisation that handles public debt and treasury management, from 2001 to 2014.

In 2003, the French government awarded him the Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur and in 2011 Officier de l'Ordre national du Merite.

He has three children. His eldest son is 50, and his two daughters are 47 and 33.


Mr Ng is currently engaged to Ms Sybil Lau, 45, a Canada-born Singaporean.

Chinese language daily Shin Min Daily News reported last Saturday that they have known each other for four years, and that Mr Ng's children are supportive of their relationship.

According to her profile on professional networking site LinkedIn, she started her career as a financial analyst at investment bank Goldman Sachs and has been managing her family’s wealth since 2009.

She currently sits on the board of the Singapore family office of American billionaire Ray Dalio as well as SG Enable, the main government-linked agency for persons with disabilities here.


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