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Second Chance CEO Mohamed Salleh Marican wants to be President, but he has to qualify first

So far there are more people ruled 'out' than ruled 'in' for the race to the Istana.

Chan Cheow Pong | June 3, 2017 @ 09:30 am

It has been two days since the gates have opened for aspiring Malay candidates to collect papers, apply for Certificates of Eligibility, Community Certificates, and finally to run for Singapore’s first presidential election reserved for the Malay community in September.

Interestingly, we have been reading more about who doesn’t want to run, than about anyone who actually does.

Here’s the list so far:

1. Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim.

2. Former Minister and former Speaker of Parliament Abdullah Tarmugi. (He told The Straits Times: “I had considered contesting earlier and many had in fact encouraged me to do so. But it is unlikely that I will contest. I have my reasons.”

3. Bank of Singapore chief executive Bahren Shaari. Mothership.sg understands he has no intention to run in the upcoming election, despite earlier media reports that seemed to suggest otherwise.

4. Member of the Presidential Elections Committee Po’ad Bin Shaik Abu Bakar Mattar.

Here’s someone who actually wants to run — but can he?

Enter the founder and chief executive officer of Second Chance Properties, Mohamed Salleh Marican.

The 67 year-old corporate honcho wrote to The Straits Times on May 31 declaring his interest to stand in the September election.

But he has one problem: he doesn’t meet the revised criteria for candidates from the private sector — in particular, the clause that requires him to be the most senior executive of a company that has an average shareholders’ equity of more than or equal to $500 million, during their most recent three-year period of service.

According to The Straits Times, Second Chance Properties’ shareholder equity was between $254.3 million and $263.25 million in the past three financial years, which means he will not automatically qualify as a candidate.

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Which leaves the “deliberative track” as the only way Salleh could try to qualify as a Presidential Election candidate.

He has to convince the Presidential Elections Committee (PEC) that he has the experience and ability to effectively carry out the functions and duties of the office of the President.

Now, just how realistic is his chance of qualifying?

This question is probably best addressed by the answer to another question: After going through all the trouble of updating the system, especially the criteria for private sector candidates, what is the likelihood of the PEC allowing an individual from the private sector who does not qualify automatically to stand for the election?

Hopeful, and has a plan

In an interview with Yahoo Singapore after his announcement, it seemed that Salleh is quite optimistic about his chances.

He wants to set up a 10-member campaign team, which includes community leaders, a lawyer and an accountant.

He even went as far as describing his potential opponent from the establishment — 62-year-old Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob — as “a good candidate”. He also said,

“Whoever is the government candidate will be my opponent but if you ask me who I prefer not to contest against, it will be Madam Halimah.”

Well, it is kind of premature to pick opponents, but at least he has caught the attention of the media and Singaporeans.

Compared to the reticence of the front-runner Halimah, it may hopefully count for something.

As he said in the Yahoo interview, “30 per cent of the voters (at least) will vote for me against the government candidate.”

Top photo from Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SMCCI) Facebook

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About Chan Cheow Pong

It took Cheow Pong two decades to recover from the trauma of memorising General Paper essays before he was ready to be an English writer. In between affliction and recovery, he thoroughly enjoyed his time writing in Chinese and doing Chinese translations.

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