Presidential candidate Ng Kok Song announced on Wednesday that he would eschew the use of posters and banners in his campaign, citing environmental concerns.
During a walkabout at Amoy Street Food Centre, the 75-year-old Ng questioned the need for temporary campaign materials.
“What’s the point of making posters and banners, hanging them up for a few days, taking them down, and then sending them to be destroyed as waste?” Ng inquired, emphasizing the importance of eco-friendly practices in the face of environmental challenges.
Ng’s two other competitors, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, a former People’s Action Party politician, and Tan Kin Lian, former CEO of NTUC Income, have already put up their posters and banners around the island following their successful nomination as presidential candidates yesterday.
Asserting his commitment to a sustainable Singapore, Ng remarked, “I feel that what we do must be compatible with our desire to have a more sustainable country.”
Instead of traditional campaign materials, Ng has pivoted his campaign to the digital realm, aiming to connect with younger, tech-savvy Singaporeans.
He believes that this demographic, comprising roughly 15 to 17 per cent of the voting populace, will be pivotal in the upcoming election. “And these are the younger Singaporeans… they are crucial,” he stressed.
Limited resources also played a part in this decision. “I don’t have the manpower resources or the party machinery to hang up posters on lampposts all over the island,” Ng confessed.
However, he does not plan to abandon traditional campaigning entirely. As he continues his walkabouts, pamphlets will be distributed, but Ng assures that “we will keep that to a minimum to be as environmentally friendly as possible.”
Amoy Street Food Centre, situated near Ng’s former workplace, GIC, saw Mr Ng mingling with the lunch crowd alongside his fiancée Sybil Lau, 45, and younger brother Charles Ng, 60. Numerous office workers and food centre patrons took photos with the presidential candidate, while his team handed out pamphlets.
Yet, amidst this eco-friendly campaign strategy, some have raised concerns about Ng’s candidacy.
He’s perceived by many as a counterweight against a potential walkover election favoring the People’s Action Party’s preferred candidate, Tharman Shanmugaratnam.
This perspective gained traction after George Goh was disqualified by the Presidential Elections Committee for not meeting the high bar set for private-sector candidates.
It would have been a two-horse race, reminiscent of how the late Ong Teng Cheong went up against reluctant candidate, the late Chua Kim Yeow, in 1993, had it not been for Tan Kin Lian joining the race.
Furthermore, eyebrows have been raised over a potential conflict of interest involving Ng.
As chairman and co-founder of Avanda Investment Management, Ng’s company received a substantial investment from Temasek Holdings, amounting to US$3 billion (S$4.05 billion) in 2016.
If elected, Ng would be in a position to oversee a Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) that had invested heavily in his company.