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Second Chance chief optimistic he will get green light to contest
A PROMINENT Malay business leader turned up at the Elections Department (ELD) along Prinsep Street on Monday morning to pick up a set of application forms needed for the upcoming presidential election reserved for Malay candidates.
Salleh Marican, the 67-year-old chief executive officer of Second Chance Properties, is the first potential candidate from the private sector to collect the papers in person since applications opened.
Last Thursday, when applications opened, the first to pick up the forms had been private-hire driver Shirwin Eu, 34. The Chinese had had his first taste of the limelight when he tried to stand in the Bukit Batok by-election in March 2016, but was eventually a no-show on Nomination Day.
On Monday, Mr Salleh arrived in a white BMW with his wife Sapiyah Abu Bakar, and his brother Hasan Marican.
Dressed in a long-sleeved pink shirt with a maroon tie, Mr Salleh was in high spirits as he expressed confidence in convincing the six-member Presidential Elections Committee (PEC) that he has what it takes to be a candidate.
On paper, he does not fulfil one of the revised eligibility criteria, which states that a person must have run a company with an average of at least S$500 million in shareholders' equity over the last three years.
Second Chance Properties, which is listed on the main board of the Singapore Exchange since 2004, has had shareholders' equity of between S$254.3 million and S$263.25 million in the last three financial years.
Despite knowing that his company has only half the required amount, Mr Salleh told reporters outside the ELD that he is "optimistic" of overcoming this challenge.
"I feel there has been too much emphasis on the S$500 million criteria, to the point that people think that if you don't have it, then you're not eligible and should not waste your time."
He cited a section in the Presidential Elections Act that states that a person can be eligible to run for the presidency if he can convince the PEC that he possesses the ability to run a S$500 million company, and has what it takes to perform the role of the President and carry out the duties of the office.
He added: "When it comes to buying a S$2 million or a S$20 million shop, my thinking process and how I evaluate the purchase is the same. It does not mean that I must have 10 times the ability (to buy the S$20 million shop)."
Asked about his bid for the highest office in the land, Mr Salleh, who has helmed his business for 42 years and counting, expressed his desire to contribute more to the nation: "I have done very well in business and I feel I want to give back to society in a much larger way," he said.
Speaking in Malay, he said two attributes would distinguish him from his potential opponents: good judgment, and good EQ (emotional intelligence).
He also elaborated on a comment he had made in a recent interview, in which he praised Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob, who is widely tipped to be a potential candidate. He said presidential candidates should behave in a manner in "keeping with the dignity" of the president.
"Some people asked me why did I go and praise an opponent. I told them this is the way of a gentleman," he said.
If there are more than two eligible candidates at the end of Nomination Day, the Returning Officer will declare that a poll would be taken in September. The application process will close five days after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong issues the writ of election; this is expected to happen some time in late August.