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Presidential hopeful Ng Kok Song submits forms, stresses importance of Singapore’s reserves

Ng said he is currently working on his list of proposer, seconder, and assenters and will share their names on Nomination Day.

SINGAPORE - Presidential hopeful Ng Kok Song has submitted his application for a certificate of eligibility to contest the upcoming presidential election.

Speaking to the media during a visit to the Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan on Thursday night, Mr Ng, 75, said he had submitted the forms on Wednesday to be considered eligible via the public sector deliberative track – or, in his words, based on his experience and duration of service as GIC’s former chief investment officer.

Mr Ng had spoken to members of the Teochew clan association.

Elaborating on why Singapore’s reserves are strategically important, he said there are three reasons.

One, they are the country’s financial defence in times of war, and are crucial to post-war reconstruction.

"“I hope... that our country will not be invaded. But if that sad day comes, we will have to depend on our reserves for the financial defence and survival of Singapore.”

Second, they help to save jobs and support lower-income Singaporeans in times of economic crisis, as seen in the draw on reserves during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Third, they keep the Singapore dollar strong, he said. This is important because Singapore buys many things from overseas, and the strength of the Singapore dollar helps to reduce costs domestically and keep inflation down.

“I spent 30 years working at GIC. I helped increase our reserves by investing them properly. And I helped to build up GIC as one of the leading sovereign wealth funds in the world, so that we can take care of our own money.

“That is the reason why I decided to come forward to be elected as the president, so that I can help to protect our reserves.”

Unless the past reserves are protected, each time there is an election, there will be political parties who will promise to reduce the goods and services tax if they are voted in, said Mr Ng during a question-and-answer session with clan members.

“Spend more here, there, here, there... deficits. If you do that, our reserves will be gone in no time... It’s a very difficult balance, the Government is spending what is essential. We must try to save as much as possible.”

Singapore has taken care of its people, but it does not mean that more cannot be done, he said.

“Part of the problem in Singapore is you have two escalators. Both escalators are going up – one escalator is higher-income, the second escalator is low-income people. The high-income escalator is going up very fast, the low-income escalator is... going up, but slowly.

“So if we want to be a successful economy, we don’t want to slow down the fast escalator. We want to speed up the slow escalator, so that income inequality will be reduced. That is the right kind of policy... that will help us to increase our overall wealth and income.”

Later, during a doorstop with the media, Mr Ng was asked for his views on the remarks of another presidential hopeful, Mr Tan Kin Lian. Mr Tan had said that he intends to use the power of the president’s office to work collaboratively with the Government, to find alternative solutions to bring down the cost of living and ensure affordable housing for all.

The president does not have executive powers, said Mr Ng.

“The president does not have the power to make policies on government spending... The power he has is when the Budget involves a drawing down on the past reserves – then he has the right to ask questions, or even to veto it.

“So I don’t think it’s correct to say that the president will have the executive powers to, for example, ask the Government to reduce the cost of living. But what the president can do in regard to the cost of living is to make sure that we safeguard our reserves, so that the Singapore dollar will remain strong,” he said.

“And when the Singapore dollar is strong, it helps to reduce the cost of living. So indirectly, by safeguarding the reserves, the president will be able to contribute to keeping down the cost of living in that way.”

Asked when he would be announcing his team of proposer, seconder and assenters, Mr Ng said he would do so when he files his nomination papers on Nomination Day.

He also stressed that character references are different from assenters. Former foreign minister George Yeo had written in a Facebook post on Wednesday that he would be “honoured” to be one of Mr Ng’s character references.


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