Kenneth Sng humbled by reactions to his remarks at US debate

Kenneth Sng delivers opening remarks at the start of the second US presidential debate on Oct 9, 2016.
Kenneth Sng delivers opening remarks at the start of the second US presidential debate on Oct 9, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - The Singaporean student who gave the opening remarks at the second US presidential debate on Sunday (Oct 9) night (Monday morning, Singapore time) said he was "very humbled" by the reception to his speech.

Kenneth Sng, 24, is in his fourth year at Washington University (WU) in St Louis, Missouri, where the debate was held. He was picked to deliver the short speech as the university's student union president.

His remarks on the nature of democracy and the US electoral process made waves in Singapore.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong posted a congratulatory note to Mr Sng on Facebook, writing: "Well done Kenneth. Keep the Singapore flag flying high!"

Mr Sng, a Jurong Junior College alumnus who is on a Public Service Commission scholarship, told The Straits Times that his nerves were so rattled by his one minute of fame that he could not give the first half of the debate his full attention.


But he said that the last question of the debate, which asked rivals Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to state what they each admired about the other, "ended the debate on a good note and helped both of them come off better".

Said Mr Sng: "I thought it was so crucial that people be reminded that people can and should have their disagreements on issues, but at the end of the day, still see enough good in each other to be willing to work together."

Despite being elected student body president, Mr Sng said he did not harbour any ambitions of running for public office.

He has also been involved in the Singapore Students' Association and the WU for Undergraduate Socioeconomic Diversity Club.

"Running for campaign is actually the one thing I enjoyed the least in student union," he said.

He added that he was "very humbled" by the reception his debate performance garnered.

For example, Straits Times reader Lisa Hong-Ping Kong posted on Facebook: "I'm heartened by the fact that a young man from one of the less-in-demand JCs, and a solidly working-/middle-class upbringing, made it so far."

To that, Mr Sng cited the advice of his father, a retired car workshop owner: "We have to stay humble and remember our roots."