Trust and sincerity key to voters’ hearts: Ng Kok Song
Presidential candidate Ng Kok Song is hoping to win over voters by gaining their trust and showing he is sincere.
“It’s not a head-to-head talk; it’s a heart-to-heart talk,” said Mr Ng, who added that he hopes to connect with ordinary Singaporeans through his life story of growing up poor and taking care of his late wife when she was stricken with cancer.
The former GIC chief investment officer was responding to a question from an audience member at a dialogue with about 200 people on Friday night.
Mr Ng was taking part in the Meet Our Presidential Candidates series organised by the National University of Singapore Society (NUSS). The dialogue was moderated by Assistant Professor Walid Jumblatt Abdullah, from Nanyang Technological University’s School of Social Sciences.
The event, which was open only to NUSS members and held at Kent Ridge Guild House, was shared live on Mr Ng’s Instagram page.
He was asked about the simplest message he can give to those who may not fully understand more abstract concepts such as protecting the reserves, and voting with their hearts and not their heads.
In response, Mr Ng recalled a private conversation with founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.
Mr Lee had told Mr Ng that many of the people attending political rallies in the 1960s and 1970s did not understand Mr Lee’s concerns about the global economy. Still, he was able to win so many elections because he had won the trust of the people.
Mr Ng also acknowledged that his lack of fluency in Mandarin is a disadvantage. Although he speaks Teochew, he pointed out that Teochews make up only about 20 per cent of the Chinese resident population.
“I try to speak some Teochew and a few words of Mandarin, but after the election, I want to start my lessons in Mandarin,” he said.
Separately, Mr Ng also addressed questions from audience members about why he did not stand down after former NTUC Income chief executive Tan Kin Lian announced his bid, as that would have already ensured a contested election.
Mr Ng replied that he not only wanted to ensure there was no walkover, but also believed he had the expertise in handling the country’s reserves.
He had earlier said two other reasons that made him run for president are his decades-long experience in building up the reserves, and how the late Mr Lee had inspired him to do something to thank the people of Singapore.
He had taught Mr Lee to meditate, and recently, he was filmed for a documentary to commemorate Mr Lee’s 100th birth anniversary.
Mr Ng added: “When my friend and former colleague Tharman announced he was standing for the office of president and said that... it would mean a lot to him to be president with a mandate from the people of Singapore, when I read that in the papers, (this) thought kept ringing in my head, ‘Who can give Tharman a credible contest? Why not you, Kok Song? Why not you?’”