Sunday, 24 September 2023

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Ng Kok Song, Avanda Investment Management chairman, mulls run for Singapore Presidency

SINGAPORE — Ng Kok Song, chairman and co-founder of Avanda Investment Management, has confirmed he is contemplating a run in the forthcoming presidential election.

Speaking to Lianhe Zaobao, Ng shared that he expects to make a final decision within a week.

“This is a matter of national significance that will have a major impact on me personally. I am considering it,” Ng told the Chinese press.

The announcement follows a report by Wake Up Singapore predicting the 75-year-old financier’s entry into the presidential race, scheduled for no later than 13 September 2023.

If Ng indeed declares his candidacy, it is nearly guaranteed he would meet the qualifying criteria.

Avanda Investment Management, a discreet fund supported by Temasek among others, reportedly commands roughly S$10 billion in assets, far exceeding the S$500 million shareholders equality as required by a private sector candidate laid out in Article 19 of the Singaporean Constitution.

Bloomberg reports that Avanda’s founding clients were the Singapore Labour Foundation, Temasek, and GIC, who together launched the firm with an initial $4 billion in assets.

Prior to establishing Avanda in 2015, Ng served nearly three decades at GIC, a professional fund management company handling the Singapore government’s foreign assets.

He has previously expressed the belief that full transparency could potentially disadvantage GIC in financial markets due to the sensitive nature of the information shared.

Ng commenced his distinguished career in 1970 at the Ministry of Finance’s overseas investment department.

He joined the Monetary Authority of Singapore from 1972 to 1986, earning a Meritorious Service Medal from the Singapore Government in 2012 for his outstanding contributions.

Following his retirement from GIC in February 2013, Ng served on the board of directors of the Singapore Exchange (SGX) from 2013 to 2018.

He currently sits on the board of governors of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.

The presidential race has so far attracted only two other potential candidates – Entrepreneur George Goh Ching Wah and former Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam from the People’s Action Party (PAP).

If Ng decides to run, the contest may involve a three-cornered fight, if Goh obtains a certificate of eligibility from the Presidential Election Committee.

Otherwise, it would likely see a contest between two establishment figures.

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