SINGAPORE: Presidential candidate Ng Kok Song has warned that the looming election must not “become a proxy fight between the government endorsed candidate and the opposition endorsed candidate,” referring to his opponents Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Tan Kin Lian, respectively.
Veteran politician Mr Tharman is the establishment pick and appears to be backed by the ruling party while a number of smaller opposition parties have openly supported former NTUC Income chief Tan Kin Lian.
In a Facebook post published on Sunday (27 Aug), Mr Ng said: “This is dangerous and divisive. Save the party politics for the next General Election and do not let it pollute the office of the President, which is supposed to be a unifying force.”
In another post published earlier, the former GIC chief investment officer said: “It is critical that we honour the spirit of the Constitution. The President is a unifying figure. He or she should not be beholden to any political parties.”
He added: “I stand as a truly independent candidate with a heart-powered team. I am not backed by any parties, but rather by my record of serving the people of Singapore.
“I am driven by love from my family and the people I have met over my life, including the past few weeks. I will safeguard our national treasures based on the best interest of the people. In times of political or other crises, I will make the most objective judgment call.”
All three candidates have made promises of independence but their commitment to be a non-partisan President has come under scrutiny.
Mr Tharman, who was Senior Minister until last month, has decades of history with the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) while Mr Tan is perceived to be running his campaign like a general election candidate would – making promises to influence policies.
Among the three candidates, Mr Ng has won a fresh wave of appreciation for putting himself forward as an alternative candidate. Although the former GIC chief investment officer has links to the establishment and was initially seen as making a bid to the presidency to give the illusion of a contest, he comes across as the more neutral candidate when compared with his two rivals.
The question of whether partisan affiliations matter in a Presidential Election remains to be seen when Singapore goes to the polls on Friday (1 Sept).