Presidential hopeful Ng Kok Song: Meditation can help youths tackle mental health issues, enable Singapore’s future success
SINGAPORE, July 23 — Having taught Singapore’s founding father how to meditate, presidential hopeful Ng Kok Song now believes that youths can benefit from practising meditation, which he said can give them “inner peace” and address mental health issues, along the way enabling the country’s future success.
The former GIC investment chief was speaking to the media after his visit to the Central Sikh Gurdwara at Towner Road this morning – his first public appearance since he announced his presidential bid on Wednesday.
A devout Catholic, the 75-year-old made headlines previously for teaching Christian meditation to the late Lee Kuan Yew, even though Singapore’s founding prime minister was not a Christian.
“As you all know, I practise meditation. And I think meditation is one of those practices which can help people come to inner peace, inner harmony. It will help people of all generations, but particularly the young,” Ng said.
“So that’s one of the things that I hope to do more when I’m President. To raise the consciousness of mental health, and to encourage as many people as possible to come together.”
Ng said that tackling mental health challenges will be crucial to Singapore’s future success, which lies in the hands of today’s youth.
“It will raise their productivity because they will not be so stressed. And secondly, they will be able to approach their work with attention,” he said.
“So, I’ve been thinking about this, and I feel that this is one of those areas where, as President, I can make a special contribution.”
He described mental health as an issue he is “very passionate” about.
“Mental health challenges people of different ages – the young, the youth, even the elderly. And so, I think it’s very important for us to put more resources into addressing the challenge of mental health in Singapore.”
Ng told the media he is particularly keen on reaching out to the country’s youth as they are “the future of Singapore”.
“It’s very important for our young people to be politically conscious, to be aware of the issues that challenge us as a society, and how we as a society can respond to those challenges,” he said.
He wants to “give them hope and optimism” to seize the opportunities ahead.
“I think the young people of today want to know that there are opportunities for them – that if they work hard, they study hard, the future is bright for them,” said Ng.
Hopes ‘political neutrality’ will raise Singaporeans’ confidence
Ng also said that the President will have to play a very important role in unifying the people of Singapore, especially in the face of increasing global political polarisation.
He cautioned that deep divisions in society can threaten Singapore’s future stability.
“I feel that as a politically neutral person, who can rise above politics, I will be in a better position to help unify our country, so that our differences of views, our differences of political affiliation, do not become divisions in our society or tear our society apart,” he said.
On whether he thinks his political neutrality would boost his chances, Ng said: “I think many Singaporeans would like to see a balance in the governance of Singapore – by which I mean a balance between the presidency and the Government.”
He said that people must not expect the President to “disrupt” the Government, making it unable to function.
Instead, Ng thinks this balance can be better achieved if Singapore has a President who never belonged to any political party.
“I hope that the people of Singapore will see that (and) my political neutrality will raise their confidence in me,” he said.
“So when you say, will it raise my chances? I think the more important thing is that it will raise the trust and the confidence of the people in me.”
When asked if his past affiliation with GIC means that people will still perceive him as an “establishment candidate”, Ng said that he is not worried.
He pointed out that there are many people who serve in “very high level positions” in the public service and interact with ministers.
“There’s this perception that if you are in the public service, you’re part of the ruling party. That is wrong,” said Ng.
“There’s a difference between the establishment and the ruling party. I have never belonged to any political party.”
Ng was today accompanied by his younger brother Charles Ng, a 60-year-old business advisor.