SINGAPORE — One particular group of young Singaporeans whom presidential candidate Ng Kok Song wants to reach out to are those who feel a sense of despair about the future, so that he can tell them that they should not feel this way as the country is in a “good position”.
“They feel that there will be a lack of opportunities for them to rise out of poverty like I did,” Mr Ng told reporters on Tuesday (Aug 22) afternoon.
In a one-to-one interview with TODAY earlier this month, Mr Ng said that he had come from a poor family, and had to give up opportunities in his youth such as studying in an overseas university to earn money for his family.
Speaking on Tuesday, the 75-year old former chief investment officer at Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC said that these young people should not despair.
“We will continue to grow our economy but you must do something… You must equip yourself with the skills, you must study hard, so that you're able to take advantage of these opportunities,” he added.
“So my message to them is, 'Do not despair, do not give up'.”
He was speaking to the media on the grounds of Upper Serangoon Crescent, where his childhood home in a kampung called Kangkar used to be.
Accompanied by his son, 50-year-old Terence Ng, the presidential candidate also spoke about his “underdog” status compared to the other two candidates.
Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Ng was at the nomination centre at the People’s Association headquarters in Jalan Besar, where he was confirmed as a candidate for Sept 1.
Shortly after that, he also spoke to reporters about how candidates should conduct themselves on social media.
This came on the back of a controversy involving presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian over social media posts he had made in the past on “pretty girls”, which Mr Tan has claimed was a “smear campaign” against him.
WHY CANDIDATES SHOULD BE TRUTHFUL ON SOCIAL MEDIA
While Mr Ng declined to comment on criticism of Mr Tan, he said that candidates should “speak (the) truth, be genuine, and let the people judge you” when expressing themselves on social media.
He added that social media is a very important means of communication, especially in reaching out to a younger generation.
“So I’ve spent a lot of time appearing on social media. I spent a lot of time making TikTok videos so that I can communicate better to the younger generation.
“I think the younger generation demands authenticity. They demand the truth… Tell them the truth and let the people judge me.”
When asked what advice he has for young first-time voters, Mr Ng said that they are voting at a time when the future is “very uncertain” and a good government cannot be taken for granted.
He added that it is more important now than ever, for the younger generation of Singaporeans who are concerned about their future to elect a President whom they could trust.
Mr Ng also said that he would not be organising a physical rally during his campaign because the use of social media already gives him the ability to reach millions of Singaporeans, especially the younger generation through their computers and mobile phones.
ON BEING AN ‘UNDERDOG’
Asked about his campaign strategy, which focuses on “speaking from the heart”, Mr Ng said that his status is one of an underdog.
“I’m not a government-endorsed candidate (so) that makes me an underdog,” he said.
“That’s why people say, 'How do you rate your chances?' The implication is either no chance or little chance.”
He observed that at the nomination centre, the number of supporters that the other two candidates had outnumbered his.
“You look at the nomination centre today — how many buses brought the supporters of the other candidate? How outnumbered we were?
“When I spoke, I was booed… That is the meaning of being an underdog, that is the meaning of being underrated.”
Mr Ng said that to overcome that label, he has to begin by “speaking from my heart and by speaking to the hearts of Singaporeans”.
That is why he was visiting his childhood home on Tuesday, to show the media and the public his humble origins.
“Life has its challenges. Sometimes we face certain disadvantages, but we must not despair,” he said.
“We can pick ourselves up and we can overcome those disadvantages. That is what I mean by winning from the heart.”