SINGAPORE: George Goh, founder of Harvey Norman Ossia, expressed heartfelt appreciation to his volunteers on Monday after failing to secure his certificate of eligibility for the upcoming Presidential Election slated for 1 September.
Taking to Facebook, Mr Goh shared his gratitude, saying, “I want to extend my deepest thanks to every Singaporean who signed up as volunteers for my campaign. Every single one of you willingly offered your time and effort, and for that, I will always be grateful.”
His sentiments come on the heels of the Elections Department (ELD) announcement on Friday (Aug 18), revealing that Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Ng Kok Song, and Tan Kin Lian are the eligible candidates. Regrettably, Mr Goh’s bid to join the Presidential race was unsuccessful.
In Singapore, acquiring a certificate of eligibility is pivotal for presidential candidates. It signifies that they possess integrity, a good reputation, and meet the necessary service requirements either from the public or private sectors.
However, the journey to the coveted seat is stringent. Candidates must provide various documents, including the certificate of eligibility, on Nomination Day (Aug 22).
In an event where multiple candidates are nominated, the public will cast their votes on September 1, a day that will be observed as a public holiday.
Under Singapore’s Constitution, private sector presidential hopefuls should have helmed a company for a minimum of three years. This company should consistently be profitable with an average shareholders’ equity of at least S$500 million.
Mr Goh, hopeful about his candidacy, applied under section 19(4)(b)(2) of the Constitution. He quoted the leadership of five companies with an impressive S$1.521 billion cumulative shareholders’ equity.
However, tensions rose when Mr Goh’s team alleged that the Presidential Elections Committee (PEC) adopted a limited view of these requirements without sharing the underlying logic.
In response to the mounting controversy, the PEC released their letter addressed to Mr Goh explaining their reasons for the rejection.
They stressed that managing multiple smaller enterprises does not equate to the experience gained from steering a single prominent private-sector company. The PEC concluded that Mr Goh’s companies did not fit this criterion.
Although the Election Department’s policy is to maintain discretion on rejection reasons, they clarified that candidates could choose to disclose the Committee’s reasoning to the public. This practice aims to protect candidates from the apprehension of potential humiliation.
Reacting to the PEC’s decision, a dejected Mr Goh previously stated, “it is a very sad day.”
However, he holds no regrets and remains confident in his qualifications, especially with the support of a prominent advisory group.
He defiantly challenged the PEC’s decision, noting, “Are you saying they’re all wrong? They’re all from the system. I cannot accept the decision given by them.”