Connect with us


CNA Forum: PE2023 Presidential candidates discuss independence, integrity, and impartiality in non-politicisation

CNA Forum Spotlight: In the PE2023 live broadcast, former GIC chief investment officer Mr Ng Kok Song championed staunch independence, emphasizing no ties to any political faction.

Former NTUC Income CEO Mr Tan Kin Lian focused on prioritizing issues over politics, urging solutions that transcend party lines.

Meanwhile, former PAP senior minister Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam cautioned against simplistic evaluations of candidates based on political affiliations, stressing the importance of character and track record.



SINGAPORE: On Monday (28 Aug) at 9 pm, the spotlight was on three prominent contenders vying for the 2023 Presidential Election (PE2023) as they engaged in a live forum hosted by Mediacorp CNA in Singapore.

The trio of Presidential contenders comprises distinguished individuals: Mr Ng Kok Song (75), the former GIC investment chief; Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam (66), a former senior minister of the People’s Action Party; and Mr Tan Kin Lian (75), the former NTUC Income chief.

During the hour-long live broadcast, these candidates fielded questions from CNA’s Otelli Edwards.

They delved into topics ranging from their suitability for the presidency to their strategies for fostering unity and cultivating a more compassionate society.

When asked how they would wield their powers impartially as the elected President of Singapore, Mr Tan Kin Lian emphasized a crucial consideration: identifying the challenges faced by the people.

He stressed that a President’s understanding of these issues and the potential solutions is of paramount importance.

He emphasized the vital need to prioritize addressing the issues themselves, rather than “politicizing” them, irrespective of the source of proposed solutions.

In challenging problem-solving scenarios, intertwining solutions with the identities of Party A or Party B is counterproductive and unhelpful, Mr Tan asserted.

“I do not believe in politicking, because it’s taking away time that should be going to understanding the problem and solving the problem.”

“I do not agree with the framing that any solution is politicising, I think we should focus on the problem, and use all available resources and knowledge to see what is the best way to solve the problem that the country and the people are facing.”

He emphasized that Singapore continues to grapple with longstanding issues that have persisted for decades, including the low birth rate and the increasing challenges of daily life.

These problems, he emphasized, demand comprehensive attention and solutions that transcend political affiliations.

Ng Kok Song reiterates staunch “Independence”

On the other hand, Mr Tan’s contender Ng Kok Song, has once again emphasized his unwavering “independence,” highlighting that he is not aligned with any specific political faction.

“I do not belong to the People’s Action Party (PAP), I do not belong to any opposition party, so there’s no better safeguard to have a non-politicized presidential election to have candidates who do not have any political affiliations.”

Ng Kok Song articulated that when candidates receive backing or endorsement from particular political entities, a potential “danger” arises, wherein the President’s ability to act impartially could be compromised due to influence from the agendas of these political parties.

Tharman challenges simplistic labels in evaluating Presidential candidates

Meanwhile, Mr Tharman strongly contested Ng’s suggestion and reiterated the importance of avoiding “simple labels“.

“This is a contest between individuals, who have to be assessed on their character, whether they have the spine, whether they have the track record, whether they’ll be able to keep the trust of the people who are electing them.”

He dismissed the notion of relying solely on whether someone has been affiliated with a political party as “extremely simplistic”.

Mr Tharman further elaborated that this perspective would have excluded notable figures in history, including the late President Ong Teng Cheong, as well as former candidates like Mr Tan Cheng Bock and President Tony Tan.

“It  would have ruled out also a whole set of people who may not be members of a political party but who have owed their positions to their bosses who were ministers in the government of the day.”

He pointed out that this reasoning extends to senior civil servants and individuals holding influential roles in the public sector, who often owe their positions to political authorities.

“Are they obligated to their bosses because of that? Not necessarily, it depends on the individuals.”

“Let’s say, if you have a private company you have a construction company that depends on government contracts, or you have a fund management company that depends on government monies.”

“Does that make you not independent? Not necessarily, it depends on your character and your track record.”

Share this post via:
Continue Reading
Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

OSCARS at its best. Definitely not Tharman.As senior minister,he did not asked for punishment for Ridout as minister clearly breached clause 3.1&3.2.It shows how much integrity he has got.He can just be impartial and announced that he is not satisfied with the results. As for NKS,most of the time you don’t bite the hands of your benefactors/investors. Tan kin Lian may be cheeky but he is the only suitable choice left if you want to have a chance of surprise for pro opposition!He most probably will be busy fulfilling his promises and the only picture he can take is the… Read more »

Shanmugan said hokkien gang capture is something he seldom see.Was he implying is a big case and he did a great job? Other countries don’t have to do it because their ministers are always alert and on the ground checking for suspicious activities happening in their country.Where are the foresight,pre -emp.The best police forces Deter and Prevent crimes .Every strong police forces in the world can just barge into Bukit timah houses and catch Those hokkiens!So our policemen has been put in a dangerous place because of lack of intelligence and prevention in the first place although you can say… Read more »

The smell of PAP still lingers on the both of them. Even my dog growling when they both speak on TV.

KOK said no personal attacks. Yet he is the one doing all the personal attacks. Grumpy, elistist face. Let’s give him our 5 fingers of disapproval.

Dear tharman, the (pap) leopard can never change its (pap) spots, can it? At the very least, the leopard has a spine. When are you going to grow a spine and become a vertebrate for a change?

Only pappie stooges will accept

We need visionary leaders like old man Lee. Given the high cost of living, housing, food cost, jobs losses, did anyone wonders what will happens to the PR’s . converted citizens, the “foreign talents” , CECAasian? etc etc? If these lost their jobs or chose not to work for a lower salary just like blue bloodied Singaporeans or due to work stress, expensive housings, etc, will these foreigners be a burden to Singapore? Or will Singapore use our reserves to help them? Can we ask the financial and economist expert? Well he said $1000 salary can afford HDB flats. What… Read more »

ng kon song claimed he didn’t belong to pap. Who seated his ass as CIO of gic ? Who was responsible during the tragedy of 2007-2008 global financial crisis when ng kok song’s very own fatal judgement and decision lost nearly 60 billions of our reserves in the UBS and citigroup collapse? So, can we really trust this ng to guard our national reserves? After UBS and citigroup crashed, somebody claimed gic is into UBS for the long haul? Then why sell off UBS soon afterwards if you are really in for the long haul? Or are you and LKY… Read more »

Hahaha, Tharman nicely took down NKS. TKL stood above the three.

Yah….Well done Tharman. Start implementing pappie stooges to have a spine else they tell the masters the “right thing” ?. tsk tsk tsk

My vote is TKL!! Nothing can change

While “young” should enjoy his Barbie doll. tsk tsk tsk.

What do you think?

HSK: My runway is too short.

The truth has shown, Zero is jus election puppet to show the world its not walk over. On the ground, he keeps A.lian busy where Botak could sail smoothly….

Ko Song going to lose deposit & his toy after that.
Tharman:: lose $40M from Skills Future while as a senior minister with full government machinery.
How to safe guard Reserve.
Arhh Oye, what talking you.
Kin Lian All The Way.

When TarMan mentioned spine, is this one of his bucket list wish to grow one before he kicks the bucket as he don’t seem to have one now.


Opposition mps please ensure CPIB disclose everything.They should also check all ministers salary whether they are correctly done,which bank giro.If is DBS,then verify with CEO Gupta Numbers are important,they should let no stones unturned!
In this way,we can give Iswaran a fair trial.

I’m posting this message in different threads.My intention is not to get Likes or downvotes,I feel this could be the 3rd killer blow after Ridout & ho Ching’s salary (may it be for security or avoid manipulation) Opposition MPs ,please ensure.

Tkl speak unclearly, cmi as a president.

After 22 years wearing white, botak thinks and acts as a pap man PERIOD

And botak knows that deep in his heart.

Don’t be taken in by his slick tongue

KOK twisting words is so dirty.
Totally untrustworthy.
Many diehard pap voters Never were pap member, just like him.
In his whole life, being a close fren of KY, which party did he voted his whole life?

So, why does HC, ex GIC captain and wife of PAP PM endorse him?

Who gave his Avanda co the billions to invest?

TKL: You are the best speaker so far . Why?

Can feel that you are speaking for Singaporeans, not so much of for the World Stage which is
not so important as our bread and butter issues.

Well Done !!!

Mr Tharman: I keep hearing this: We must have spine !!! LoL

No other words?