Salleh eyes second chance at next polls

Mr Salleh Marican, speaking at his home yesterday, said he hopes to grow his company so it can meet the $500 million criterion.
Mr Salleh Marican, speaking at his home yesterday, said he hopes to grow his company so it can meet the $500 million criterion.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

Over the years, Mr Salleh Marican grew his small tailor shop to a $250 million property and investment holdings firm and made a name for himself as a self-made businessman.

But yesterday, the 67-year-old fell short in his bid to run for the presidency, as the Presidential Elections Committee (PEC) found he was ineligible to stand for election to the highest office in the land as he did not meet the criteria required for a candidate from the private sector.

The PEC laid out its reasons for rejecting Mr Salleh in a letter to him yesterday.

The letter, which was shown to The Straits Times by Mr Salleh, said that while Second Chance Properties was profitable during his tenure as its chief executive from 1999 to the present day, its shareholder equity - which averaged $258 million in the last three financial years - was considerably lower than the threshold required.

Hopefuls from the private sector are required to have run a company with at least $500 million in shareholders' equity for the most recent three years.

Speaking to The Straits Times yesterday evening at his home near Upper East Coast Road, Mr Salleh said he was sad and "very disappointed".

"The reason is very vague, very general, they find that I cannot, I don't have the ability to manage a $500 million company. This is very subjective," he said.

"In business, it is (also about) luck, if let's say tomorrow... I have $500 million, maybe if property price goes up, I am actually the same person."

He offered PEC testimonials from people who have dealt with him in business and who believed he had what it takes to manage a $500 million company.

"I explained that from $8,000 of capital, from a small tailor shop, I have grown the business to $250 million, and along the way I have learnt much, I have gone through failures and setbacks and still all this somehow did not convince them," said Mr Salleh.

The PEC's decision is final and is not open to an appeal.

Mr Salleh said he would continue to run his business and contribute to society in other ways.

And while he wished Madam Halimah Yacob well, he also said this was not the end of the road for his presidential ambitions.

"I hope that I can grow this company in the next six years, and if I can meet the $500 million criterion six years later, I will try again, in an open election. I believe in second chances. I believe I will give myself a second chance," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2017, with the headline 'Salleh eyes second chance at next polls'. Print Edition | Subscribe