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Ng Kok Song boasts 45-year reserves building experience, while netizens remind him on broader Presidential responsibilities

Presidential hopeful Ng Kok Song highlighted his 45-year experience molding reserves through public service, underlining the challenge in comprehending their intricacies.

While his experience is significant, public sentiment varies, with reminders that the presidency encompasses more than reserve protection.

Some jest that safeguarding reserves isn’t as daunting, as outgoing President Halimah seems to have managed the task “adequately” over the past six years.

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SINGAPORE: Presidential hopeful Ng Kok Song underscored his extensive 45-year experience in shaping the past reserves through his public service roles, setting himself apart with distinct advantages compared to other candidates.

He pointedly emphasized that comprehending the intricacies of safeguarding Singapore’s past reserves is “not easy to understand”.

While Ng acknowledged that former Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam is well-versed in the complexities of this task, he expressed his belief that the remaining potential candidates, Entrepreneur George Goh and former CEO of NTUC Income Tan Kin Lian, have yet to exhibit a comprehensive understanding.

Whoever wants to be the president must be competent, and secondly, that person must be trustworthy in terms of character, ” he asserted.

Drawing from his four and a half decades of actively contributing to reserve management, the 75-year-old former Chief Investment Officer of GIC (Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund) confidently asserted that his rich experience endows him with an insightful grasp of the nuanced nature of reserves.

Although he acknowledged Tharman’s understanding, he stressed the necessity for other candidates to validate their comprehension of the profound responsibilities associated with safeguarding reserves.

“I think Minister Tharman also understands,” he said.

“but it is something which I think other candidates will have to prove that they have a sufficient grasp Of the responsibilities of the job in terms of safeguarding the reserves.

Ng addressed a query about what distinguishes him from fellow potential candidates during a dialogue held at the Huang Clan Association in Geylang on Sunday (13 Aug).

Additionally, Mr Ng conveyed to reporters his conviction that his understanding of reserves surpasses that of the other hopefuls.

“If you were to understand about the meaning of safeguarding the reserves, you will see that it is not a simple matter,” he said.

He proceeded to highlight that although the reserves’ definition can be accessed on a government website, there exist numerous intricacies surrounding them that may elude many.

Ng brought attention to the requirement for the elected President to grasp several key points concerning the appropriate quantum of past reserves accessible to the government.

He asserted, “He needs to understand the global economy … why such an amount of money is necessary because of the risky environment that the economy is then facing.”

“I think it does require some financial competence, some understanding and knowledge of how the global economy works, how the Singapore economy is connected to the global economy … we mustn’t assume that it’s an easy thing.”

Netizens remind Ng that the presidency entails responsibilities beyond safeguarding reserves

Boasting an impressive 45-year journey in public service, marked by pivotal roles at GIC and the Monetary Authority of Singapore, Ng exuded a palpable confidence in his ability to fathom the “intricacies of reserves.”

While Mr Ng certainly has valid grounds to tout his extensive experience as an advantage in safeguarding Singapore’s reserves, alongside Tharman, public sentiment might diverge.

Commenting on CNA‘s and TODAY‘s Facebook posts, some individuals reminded Ng that the presidency entails responsibilities beyond reserve protection.

Others contested Ng’s attempt to distinguish himself primarily through his past experience or by implying that reserves are akin to “rocket science” comprehensible to a select few.

One comment insinuated that labeling it as “rocket science” might be a ploy to discredit others managing substantial funds derived from astute asset management and investments.

The comment elaborated that public sector funds stem from a steady influx of public contributions, questioning the complexity of maintaining an appealing financial facade through concealed taxes versus genuinely generating revenue from willing consumers.

“So in that respect a person who does not know how to earn money is more likely to raid the reserves than a person who does, ” the netizen wrote.

Meanwhile, another comment raised doubts about Ng’s performance by challenging his claim of building reserves.

The netizen cited GIC’s recent underwhelming five-year returns and requested clarification on the losses incurred in the previous financial year.

“Can you tell us how much losses last financial year and you also claimed you know the reserves, can you tell us how much reserves Singapore have?”

Netizens comparing Mr Ng with other potential candidates

However, it’s important to note that there are also netizens who are supportive of Ng’s stance.

For instance, one comment emphasized that certain potential candidates, like George Goh, have consistently focused on their life and business accomplishments from the very beginning but have struggled to connect these experiences with the responsibilities of a president.

There have been observations that in comparison, Ng’s stance might imply that he sees himself as a “second choice” after Tharman, considering Tharman’s role as Chairman of the MAS from 2011 to 2023.

Presidential role “more than solely safeguarding Singapore’s reserves”

Shee Chee Lim, a senior lecturer at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, shared her thoughts on a Facebook post, reminding Ng that the role of Singapore’s President encompasses more than solely safeguarding the country’s reserves.

“That is primary but not the sole qualification required. That is why there is no pre-qualification that a person must have managed the reserves before, managed huge sums of money, yes, but not necessarily the national reserves. “

He added that requiring such a qualification would indeed be unreasonable, as the complexities can be explained by advisors.

Lim further adds wisdom, humility, and a love for the country to this list of desired characteristics. These aspects, in her opinion, are the key factors.

A netizen ask Ng to comment on President Halimah’s performance on safeguarding the country’s reserve

Meanwhile, a number of netizens have taken a slightly satirical stance, suggesting that safeguarding Singapore’s reserves might not be as daunting as portrayed.

They pointed out that outgoing President Halimah seems to have managed the task “adequately” over the past six years, despite not having extensive experience working within Singapore’s sovereign fund.

In a specific comment, someone posed a query to Mr Ng, asking whether he believed President Halimah’s performance in this capacity was commendable and even superior to that of George Goh and Tan Kin Lian.

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Given the substantial loss of S$30,800,000,000.00cents and S$7,000,000,000.00cents by MAS (Chairman — TS)and TH (Director -TS,previous CIO–NKS)respectively within the financial year ending 2023 and the alarming deteriorating governance which continue to infest our beloved SG,all voters will welcome someone not associated in whatever form or substance with the old “rotting mould”as SG newly minted President to assist in stopping the rot.In the coming PE ,let us all SG voters including those new citizens should do the needful to ensure the start of a new era!!,

It’s ironic that the PM endorses TS whilst HC is making a last ditch effort to shore up NKS’s candidacy. Aren’t they contradicting each other? Unless it’s the strategy of using NKS to ensure TS romps home whether by a body length or a mere whisker. TKL by virtue of his previous eligibility in 2011 (though it was less than $500m equity back then), must qualify again. Unless of course PEC finds a reason to disqualify him given that he still meets the $500m equity criteria in addition to being the top guy in the organisation. If he is deemed… Read more »

Our presidency is a non political office, just a ceremonial one. Not much of an asset. It would be quite a stretch to associate Halimau with “eloquent and articulate”.

Ng Ko(k) Song doesn’t seem able to differentiate the DIFFERENCE between MANAGING and SAFEGUARDING the reserves. He has 45 years of managing the reserves. As far as safeguarding it, he is as clueless as the others except possibly Tharman.

Given the numerous instances of mal investment decisions by GIC and especially Temasek, one would say his record at management is not exactly stellar and given the secrecy surrounding the investments, his performance at managing it is unknown at best.

Red Flag !!! Majority singaporeans are PAP voters based on 58 year history. More votes can come from being perceived to be pro-Establishment. Initially, he is ok. An establishment person. This image will land him some white votes. Now he tries to paint himself as if he is non-establishment when he has 45 years with establishment! Why is he trying to appeal the Minority voters? Think lah, singaporeans! My view on this stunt he executed is : 1. TM was initially perceived to be sure win by big landslide. 2. As GGoh and TKL has entered the fray, and the… Read more »

Last edited 8 months ago by Upto NoGood

NKS has always worked with the PAP so he cannot represent the people. Neither can Tharman who now wants to police the policies he helped create. Both should not participate in the EP if they have integrity but the PAP have their own dictionary. Why are there so many dishonest affiliates of the PAP? It’s exhausting just to identify lack of integrity, conflict of interest, conduct in Conflict of a Minister , dishonesty etc.

Agreed. Feed him bananas enough. Taxpayers will save $9m.

Loks like he picture himself some kind of black society?

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