SINGAPORE: Presidential candidate Ng Kok Song says he has the experience to protect Singapore’s reserves, one of the key responsibilities of the president. “I can protect the reserves,” said the 75-year-old former GIC chief investment officer who had served as a Monetary Authority of Singapore director. “I spent my entire career at GIC and MAS helping to build up our reserves.”

However, he conceded his role as President would be different from his former job at the Sovereign Wealth Fund, GIC. “The GIC CIO role is more of a center-forward, the attacker, taking the offensive, while the President is like a goalkeeper,” he said in an exclusive interview with Dollars and Sense.

But with his experience, he could be a goalkeeper, too.

“In order to be a good goalkeeper, you must have played as a center-forward as well,” he claimed. “You know, to see how people can score against you.”

“I was the Group CIO for GIC for six years before my retirement in 2013,” said Mr Ng Kok Song. As the Group CIO, he had to set the investment strategy.

See also  2 days out: Ng Kok Song’s campaign says it won’t be accepting any more volunteers

“I have to help formulate the investment policy decisions for them to be approved by the Board of Directors, which was chaired by the Prime Minister,” he recalled. Then he had to execute the strategy.

The job required “a very clear mind”, extensive reading, and networking.

Mr Ng Kok Song recalled, “I have to read very extensively and I need to have discussions with my peers and experts in order to cross-check my own thinking. It calls for a lot of study, and a lot of intelligence gathering for me to make those decisions. As a result of that, I built up many friendships around the world among leading investors, among policymakers.”

Mr Ng Kok Song elaborated on how as a former GIC CIO, he was well equipped to carry out the President’s responsibility of managing the reserves.

“The former GIC role which I held was also to safeguard the reserves. How does the GIC safeguard the reserves? By investing them properly so that we can generate better rates of return on the reserves,” he said.

See also  Elections Department to open application period for Presidential Election tomorrow, days after Tharman announced plans to contest

If GIC earns more, there is more money for the Singapore Budget and the people benefit, he added.

“If we are able to generate better rates of return, then we can allocate more for the benefit of the people because the government can take up to half the investment returns for the Singapore Budget and through that allocate money for healthcare for the elderly, and for education and housing. If the GIC can generate better returns, we have more to benefit the people and we have more to save for the future,” said Mr Ng Kok Song.

He pointed out, “The GIC does not decide how much to spend. It is the government’s decision, but they must get the approval of the President.

“The similarity is that both the President and the GIC want to be able to build up our savings for the future. In GIC’s case, through generating better investment returns, in the President’s case, to try to save as much as possible so that we have a better and a more secure future.”

See also  "He (Ng Kok Song) would have made a decent President if only Tharman wasn't running" — Netizens

Read also:

2023 Singapore Presidential Election: Will Khaw Boon Wan Be The Establishment’s Choice? 

PE2023: Lee Hsien Yang’s Potential Run Shakes Up Singapore’s Presidential Race 

SM Tharman to run for president, DPM Lawrence Wong to be appointed chairman of MAS and committee in GIC  

Tharman Shanmugaratnam handed over EDB’s IAC Baton to DPM Lawrence Wong