Ng Kok Song’s son-in-law’s role at GIC sparks questions amid presidential bid

SINGAPORE: Since Ng Kok Song, the former Chief Investment Officer of Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC, announced his candidacy for the 2023 Singapore Presidential Election in July, he has consistently emphasized his “political independence.”

However, questions have arisen among Singaporeans about his ability to serve as President impartially, given his extensive 27-year association with PAP politicians during his tenure at GIC.

Interestingly, a vigilant netizen highlighted that Ng Kok Song’s son-in-law, Mark Lee, currently holds the position of Managing Director at GIC.

A cross-reference with a previous report by CNA on 19 July confirms this observation, with Mark Lee positioned at the far right in the group photos:

In a video featured on TODAY, Mr Ng introduced his family members to the media, including his first daughter, Deborah Ng, and her husband, Mark Lee.

22-year tenure in GIC

After closely examining Mr Lee’s publicly accessible LinkedIn profile, it is apparent that his tenure at GIC spans an impressive 22-year duration.

His profile unambiguously states that his journey with GIC began in September 2001. Over the course of his extensive career within the organization, he has achieved notable milestones.

Notably, he ascended the ranks to become Deputy Head of Asia Pacific Equities, followed by his appointment as Deputy Head of Developed Market Equities in 2018.

Further enhancing his professional trajectory, Mr. Lee assumed the esteemed role of Chief of Global Active Equities (GAEQ) within the Public Equities Department in June 2019.

This strategic department, as outlined in Mr Lee’s profile on GIC’s official site, is entrusted with global investments in developed markets. The GAEQ team operates across key financial hubs, including New York, London, and Singapore.

Prior to joining GIC, Mark was a technical consultant at Hewlett Packard.

Mark holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical) from the National University of Singapore and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

He is also a CFA charterholder.

The affiliation of Mr Ng’s family members with GIC raises significant concerns regarding potential conflicts of interest and the potential for favouritism.

These considerations have the potential to impact Mr Ng Kok Song’s ability to carry out his duties as President impartially and without bias.

After a notable 27-year stint with GIC, Mr Ng co-founded Avanda Investment Management in 2015. Remarkably, just a year later, the company received a staggering sum of S$4 billion from Temasek.

Furthermore, the endorsement of Mr. Ng by PM Lee’s wife, Ho Ching, who attributed to him the pioneering of wealth management training in Singapore, leading to Temasek’s investment in the Wealth Management Institute in 2003, further underscores the intertwined professional journey they share.

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