3 presidential hopefuls

Salleh: I'll be independent of any political party or organisation

Mr Salleh Marican pledged to guard the nation's reserves with prudence and donate his full salary to underfunded charities if elected.
Mr Salleh Marican pledged to guard the nation's reserves with prudence and donate his full salary to underfunded charities if elected.ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG

Presidential hopeful Salleh Marican yesterday reiterated he will be a president who is independent of any political party or organisation.

In a statement after the Writ of Election was issued yesterday, the businessman also pledged to guard the nation's reserves with prudence, help the less fortunate and donate his entire salary to underfunded charities if elected.

The chief executive of Second Chance Properties submitted his applications for a certificate of eligibility and community certificate to the Elections Department (ELD) last Wednesday. "I await eagerly the decision on whether I will be given the go-ahead to join the race. I am confident of getting that green light," he said yesterday.

Mr Salleh's investment holdings and retail firm had shareholder equity of between $254.3 million and $263.25 million in the past three financial years - below the $500 million threshold set for private sector candidates. The Presidential Elections Committee (PEC) has the discretion, however, to issue an eligibility certificate to candidates even if they do not meet the criteria for automatic qualification.

"I look forward to be eligible to contest the election. A contest will be good for Singapore," Mr Salleh, 67, said.

He has assembled a core team of 20 members and a group of volunteers. His campaign manager Abdul Halim Kader, 66, is a People's Action Party stalwart who has helped the ruling party in five previous general elections. Mr Abdul Halim said he and Mr Salleh are close friends who have known each other since the 1980s. "He's a very charitable man," he said, pointing to Mr Salleh's annual donations of $22,222 to the Tabung Amal Aidilfitri Trust Fund to help the needy.

He added that if the PEC gives the businessman the nod, Mr Salleh plans to do walkabouts in all five districts, visit hawker centres and wet markets, go door-to-door to meet residents, and hold meetings with resident and merchant associations. Work is also under way on a campaign manifesto and banners.

Mr Salleh, who was initially criticised online for stumbling while speaking Malay after collecting his forms at the ELD in June, has been taking regular Malay lessons.

After he submitted his forms at the ELD last week, Mr Salleh spoke to the media in fluent Malay, before turning to his assembled supporters and declaring: "Who says Salleh Marican cannot speak Malay!"

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2017, with the headline 'Salleh: I'll be independent of any political party or organisation'. Print Edition | Subscribe