23 September 2017
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Rejected hopefuls disappointed, but want to continue service

12 Sep 2017
Louisa Tang & Faris Mokhtar

Their applications to vie for the nation’s highest office were rejected yesterday, and both Mr Mohamed Salleh Marican and Mr Farid Khan expressed disappointment with the Elections Department’s decision.

However, they said that they would want to continue serving the people.

Mr Marican, 67, told TODAY that it is “not good at all” that it is a walkover for the Presidential Election. The chief executive of Second Chance Properties said that “many Singaporeans will be disappointed” now that they are denied a vote.

“People are not satisfied because they don’t have a chance to choose their own President for the next six years,” he said.

“And they feel that (limiting) the pool to such a small number of people is also not good. There are a lot of other people who can qualify.”

Mr Marican’s application for the Certificate of Eligibility was rejected by the Presidential Elections Committee as he did not meet the qualifying criterion of helming a company with S$500 million of shareholders’ equity for the past three financial years.

This is one of the eligibility criteria for private-sector candidates.

The bid by Mr Farid, 62, chairman of marine services provider Bourbon Offshore Asia Pacific, was rejected on the same grounds.

In a letter, the committee said that while it was satisfied that Mr Marican held the most senior executive office in Second Chance and was principally responsible for managing and conducting its business and operations, his firm’s shareholders’ equity — which averaged about S$258 million in the last three financial years — was “considerably below” the requisite minimum of S$500 million.

As for Mr Farid, TODAY understands that the shareholder equity for his firm is more than S$350 million, but short of the minimum S$500 million criterion in order for him to qualify as a candidate.

Mr Marican admitted that he knew from the beginning he could not meet the criterion, but he thought that if he could run a S$250-million company, “there’s no reason why I cannot run a S$500 million company”. He has no regrets that he threw his hat into the ring and hopes to contest in future elections if his company grows and he is able to meet the criterion next time.

“I will give myself a second chance … I have gone through many setbacks. I have even failed in business. But I believe in this motto that one should try, try and try again until you succeed,” he said.

On Facebook, he wrote: “My team and I will regroup to see how the effort to help our disadvantaged sisters and brothers can go forward ... The fight to serve Singapore is not over. We will regroup and put our plans into action soon.”

In a statement, Mr Farid said that he accepted the decisions of the Presidential Elections Committee and the Community Committee, and that it was “not meant to be”.

He also thanked Singaporeans, his family and friends for supporting him. He declined to comment on why the Elections Department rejected his application.

“Nevertheless, it has been a meaningful journey and a wonderful experience. Although I am disappointed by the committees’ decision, it will not stop me from continuing to serve the people,” he said.

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