If he is elected, former senior minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam can return to the government and Harvey Norman Ossia founder George Goh can continue building his business, says presidential hopeful Ng Kok Song.
SINGAPORE: If Singaporeans choose him to be the next President, the country can have “the best of three worlds”, said presidential hopeful Ng Kok Song on Saturday (Jul 29) as he gave some personal reflections on the elected presidency.
Speaking to reporters at the sidelines of the Asia Cat Expo 2023, Mr Ng said that if he is elected President, former senior minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam can return to the government to serve Singapore as he has done for the last 22 years.
Meanwhile, Mr George Goh – the third potential presidential candidate and founder of retailer Harvey Norman Ossia – can go back to “building his business to support the government's efforts to grow our economy”, Mr Ng said.
“I think that would be a very good thing because as you know, our government is going through a difficult time. So we need very good and capable people to come back or to go back to serve our country," he added.
"I will be so honoured to be able to serve the people of Singapore one more time."
Mr Ng also laid out two other scenarios where either Mr Tharman, 66, or Mr Goh, 63, become Singapore’s President.
He noted that all three potential candidates have explained what they would do if they are elected president, but have not shared what they would do when the election is over.
If he does not get elected as President, Mr Ng, 75, said he will go back to his asset management company Avanda Investment Management, which he co-founded in mid-2015.
He started out as an investment analyst at the Ministry of Finance’s overseas investment department before moving on to the Monetary Authority of Singapore, before finally ending his 45 years in public service as the chief investment officer of Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC.
“I will go back and grow my company … so that Avanda can become a homegrown Singaporean investment management company that Singaporeans can be proud of and which will contribute to the further development of Singapore as a financial centre,” he told the media.
Mr Ng was at the Asia Cat Expo 2023 event with his fiancee Sybil Lau, where they interacted with stall owners and members of the public as well as some pet cats.
The couple own an 18-month-old British shorthair cat named Max and a Japanese Spitz dog named Cotton.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE PRESIDENT?
Mr Ng also gave some thoughts on the role of the President, in light of recent political scandals that have rocked Singapore.
One significant role of the President is to safeguard the integrity of key appointments in the public service, he noted.
“This is extremely important because no matter how good our institutions are, the bad people get into our institutions, they will corrupt our institutions,” Mr Ng added.
“So it's not good enough to have good institutions – we need good people.
“And so the key role of the President is to ensure the people who are going to occupy very important positions in the public service are carefully scrutinised, that they meet up to the standards that Singaporeans expect of those key appointments.”
If elected as President, he would look more into their backgrounds to ensure that the people proposing these appointments “have done a very thorough job of examining their past”, Mr Ng said.
“I think those are very important functions that the President and his council of presidential advisors should be doing to scrutinise and ensure the integrity of our public service,” he added.
As for his slate of backers – proposer, seconder and assenters – Mr Ng reiterated that it has not been finalised.
These are the parties who will sign the nomination documents. Electoral rules require each presidential candidate’s nomination paper to be signed by a proposer, a seconder and at least four other people who are registered voters.
Mr Ng had said on Thursday that his team of assenters might not “be as impressive in terms of brain power” when compared to the “very high-powered list” supporting Mr Tharman, but they are “people of courage” who come from different walks of life.
On Saturday, he said the most important asset he wants in his supporters is “the heart power”, not just “brain power or even financial power”.
“It’s still early days because I first have to apply for the Certificate of Eligibility,” he added.
“And then after that, there is Nomination day, and on Nomination Day, when I submit my nomination, I will list out my list of proposers, seconders and assenters.”