Former presidential hopefuls urge Halimah to unite Singaporeans

Former presidential hopefuls urge Halimah to unite Singaporeans
Mr Farid Khan (left) and Mr Salleh Marican. TODAY file photo
PM thanks both men for conducting themselves with ‘propriety and decorum’
Published: 2:20 PM, September 13, 2017
Updated: 12:14 AM, September 14, 2017

SINGAPORE — Former Presidential hopefuls Mr Mohamed Salleh Marican and Mr Farid Khan Kaim Khan have urged President-elect Halimah Yacob to unite Singaporeans and help soothe some of the unhappiness that has emerged in the run-up to this year’s reserved election.

In a statement to TODAY, Mr Marican, the 67-year-old chief executive of Second Chance Properties, said: “This has been a divisive run-up to the nomination for the President. I hope Mdm Halimah will heal the wounds.”

Given her experience and background, Mr Marican believed she “will be the unifying President”.

Chairman of marine services provider Bourbon Offshore Asia Pacific, Mr Farid, 62, said he hoped Mdm Halimah would “have the people of Singapore in her thoughts when making any decisions that will affect our lives and the lives of our children”.

Although he felt he had the ability to bring Singaporeans together, he wished Mdm Halimah the best and said: “I believe that the President must be a unifying force for all races and people of all backgrounds.”

On Wednesday, Mdm Halimah was declared the country’s eighth President, becoming the first woman and the first Malay in 47 years to assume the position.

The election turned out to be a walkover after the Elections Department declared Mdm Halimah the sole qualifying candidate. 

Both Mr Farid and Mr Marican were not certified eligible as neither met the qualifying criterion of running a company with S$500 million shareholders’ equity, on average, in the most recent three years.

Many Singaporeans and several Opposition figures have expressed unhappiness online over the decision and the reserved election in general. 

In a statement, Mr Farid said that while he was looking forward to a contest, he accepted “with a heavy heart and great disappointment” the Presidential Elections Committee’s decision.

The qualifying criteria was “stringent” but he felt that he had made “the mark based on the financial standing of my regional companies”.

Stepping forward was an “obligation” and “for the sake of the Malay community”, Mr Farid said. It was to show Singaporeans that there are qualified Malay candidates who are willing to run for the Presidency to serve the country. 

Although unable to contest, Mr Farid said that he “still (felt) victorious” as he had gained Singaporeans’ support and love. 

“I saw it as my duty to serve the country if elected as the President of Singapore and I would have worked with the Government,” he said. 

“I believe a strong, independent, neutral and capable President is what we need during good and bad times especially in safeguarding the reserves and appointing top civil servants.”

He said he would continue to do his part in serving the country. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong thanked both men for offering themselves as candidates and conducting themselves with “propriety and decorum”.

Mr Lee wrote in a Facebook post: “It can’t have been an easy decision for them and their families, knowing the media attention and public scrutiny this would attract.

“They respected the Constitution and conducted themselves with propriety and decorum. They did not confuse people with wild promises that exceeded the remit of the President, which had happened before. I thank them also for accepting the Presidential Elections Committee’s decisions. This is the way to make our democratic processes work properly and in the interest of Singaporeans.”