SINGAPORE: Despite not being able to participate in the upcoming Presidential Election slated for 1 September, George Goh, the founder of Harvey Norman Ossia, has not faded from the social media spotlight.
In a remarkable move, he announced that he and his team would make their Presidential campaign items available at a charity sale on the coming weekend, 26 and 27 August, from 10 am to 4 pm.
All proceeds from the sale will be dedicated to Secondmeal, a non-profit organization committed to making meals accessible to those in need.
“I’ll be around from 2-4 pm on both days to thank you for your support as well, ” Mr Goh said in a recent Facebook post.
“I know this will go a long way to helping many. See you this weekend!”
In an image posted on George Goh’s official Facebook page, he revealed that instead of discarding their surplus campaign items, he and his team have chosen to sell them and donate all profits to Secondmeal.
The range of campaign items available for sale will include T-shirts, flags, tissue packets, posters, badges, and more.
The charity sale will take place at 118 Joo Chiat Road, S (427407), #02-03.
Secondmeal is dedicated to serving the vulnerable and needy in Singapore, ensuring that those in need can afford meals at local hawker centres.
George Goh earlier voiced discontent over PEC’s rejection for presidential candidacy
Last Friday (18 Aug), the Elections Department (ELD) unveiled its list of eligible candidates for the forthcoming Presidential Election.
Former Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, ex-GIC Chief Investment Officer Ng Kok Song, and former presidential aspirant Tan Kin Lian have secured their places.
However, businessman George Goh did not receive a Certificate of Eligibility, falling short in the application process.
In a statement, Goh expressed his disappointment, saying, “I am deeply disheartened by the Presidential Elections Committee (PEC)’s decision to reject my application for a certificate of eligibility.”
“My team and I put forth a compelling case detailing my expertise and achievements in managing five firms that met the equity and profitability benchmarks. Yet, the PEC dismissed our argument, suggesting that my experience did not equate to that of a CEO of a single enterprise.”
Addressing the press regarding the PEC’s decision, Goh commented that it was “a very sad day,” but he harbored no regrets about entering the fray.
He mentioned that he had a cadre of advisors, comprising some of “Singapore’s top professionals”, bolstering his confidence in his qualifications.
“Are you implying they were mistaken? That seems improbable. They all come from within the system,” he argued during a press conference at his residence on Friday afternoon. “I cannot reconcile with their decision. I genuinely believe it lacks fairness.”
PEC refuted George Goh’s claims regarding eligibility rationale
According to Singapore’s Constitution, presidential candidates from the private sector must have a minimum of three years of experience as the CEO of a company.
This company must have maintained an average shareholders’ equity of at least S$500 million and consistently turned a profit.
Mr Goh had applied for eligibility via the private sector “deliberative track”, specifically under section 19(4)(b)(2) of the Singapore constitution, citing five companies he spearheaded over three years, with a claimed cumulative shareholders’ equity of S$1.521 billion.
However, some analysts have previously voiced uncertainty regarding whether an applicant can amalgamate the average shareholder equity from various companies to meet the outlined criterion.
The ambiguity arises from the Singapore Constitution‘s reference to “a private sector organisation”, as opposed to multiple “private sector organisations”.
Notably, before the 2016 revisions, the PEC could have had the discretion to evaluate Mr Goh’s application as it did for Mr Tan Jee Say in the 2011 Presidential Election. But in its current phrasing, the PEC is bound by the definitions within the constitution.
In a bid to address the controversy head-on, the PEC, in a media release on Friday (18 Aug) night, announced its decision to publicize its letter to Mr Goh.
This letter would shed light on its rationale for denying him the certificate of eligibility.
In the release, the PEC emphasized that the Constitution mandates the committee to gauge whether an applicant has derived experience and capability from directing a single, prominent private sector entity.
“The experience and ability that comes from managing multiple smaller private sector organisations is not equivalent to this,” stated the PEC.
The committee’s evaluation determined that the five companies presented by Mr Goh did not qualify as “a single private sector organisation”.
While the Elections Department made it clear on Friday morning that reasons for any rejections wouldn’t be disclosed publicly, following the 2016 Constitutional Commission’s guidelines, it did note that unsuccessful contenders, like Mr Goh, could access the Committee’s reasoning and subsequently opt for disclosure.
The rationale behind this practice is to prevent potential contenders from being deterred due to a potential “fear of embarrassment”.