Salleh Marican first to submit forms for presidential election

Mr Mohamed Salleh Marican and his wife Sapiyah Abu Bakar at the Elections Department yesterday, accompanied by supporters.
Mr Mohamed Salleh Marican and his wife Sapiyah Abu Bakar at the Elections Department yesterday, accompanied by supporters.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Businessman Mohamed Salleh Marican has submitted his application to contest the presidential election next month, the first of three presidential hopefuls to do so.

The 67-year-old handed in the forms to the Presidential Elections Committee (PEC) and the Community Committee at the Elections Department (ELD) yesterday.

Speaking to reporters later, he said he and his 20-strong campaign team were ready for a contest.

He added that he believed Singaporeans were "ready to vote".

"It will be good for Singapore if there is a contest. The people of Singapore will be satisfied that they have a chance to select their next president."

The chief executive of Second Chance Properties is among three people who have signalled their intention to run in the election, which is reserved for candidates from the Malay community.

The other two are former Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob, 62, who recently stepped down from her post to run in the election, and Bourbon Offshore Asia Pacific chairman Farid Khan, 62.

Mr Salleh, who was accompanied by his wife Sapiyah Abu Bakar, 65, arrived at the ELD yesterday afternoon, where about 20 of his supporters and business associates had gathered.

One of them, Mr Kubir Singh, 55, a garment merchant who has supplied clothing to Mr Salleh's company, said: "I have known him for 40 years. His payments were always punctual. He is really a man of his word, that is why I think he will be a good president."

Property agent Seah Yam Seng, 52, said Mr Salleh might be a towkay (boss), but he is down to earth and has "no airs".

Mr Salleh, who is applying to run based on his private-sector experience, does not meet the eligibility criteria for automatic qualification.

The Constitution requires private- sector candidates to have run a company with at least $500 million in shareholder equity, on average, for the most recent three years, but his investment holdings and retail firm, which is listed on the Singapore Exchange, had equity of between $254.3 million and $263.25 million in the past three financial years.

But Mr Salleh said he was confident he would be found eligible by the PEC. It has the discretion to issue an eligibility certificate to candidates even if they do not meet the criteria for automatic qualification.

"I have spent more than 100 hours to ensure I do my very best to answer all their questions," he said, adding that he had submitted supporting documents to the ELD.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is expected to issue the Writ of Election this month. The application process, which began on June 1, will close five days after that.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2017, with the headline 'Salleh Marican first to submit forms for presidential election'. Print Edition | Subscribe