By Laura Zhang, Ashwini Dhanabalan
Mr Farid Khan greeted us warmly at his Ubi Road office. It is spacious and well-furnished. The only photos that could be seen were those of him and his daughter when she was younger.
The 62-year-old, chairman of Bourbon Offshore Asia Pacific, a marine services firm, and one of the three presidential hopefuls, spoke about why he wanted to become the next president of Singapore.
“I believe that this is the ripe age for me to serve the country, rather than take up a retirement plan,” he said. “Even if it’s not a reserved election, I will still contest it.”
“I’m not a politician”
Mr Farid asserts that he does not want to be a politician.
“I don’t believe in politics. A president’s job is to bring everyone together,” he said. “The president has three roles – constitutional, ceremonial and community, which are all not political roles. It’s a personal challenge and an opportunity to serve the country. If I can bring the country together, the sacrifices are worth it.”
What sacrifices? Well, his freedom and privacy, according to Mr Farid, which mean a lot to him and his wife.
Not a boring old man
Reaching out to the youngsters via social media is one of his campaign strategies.
“I need to blend in with the younger generation. The way to approach them is different from my time.
“I’m trying to familiarise myself with social media, and to post fun and cool stuff, such as projecting myself riding a bike instead of as an old boring man. I still make clumsy mistakes.
“I hope I can relate to the youngsters. They can look at me and say, ‘this man was once a nobody.
“I want to share about my life insights through motivational talks in schools someday.”
“I have friends from all races,” said Mr Farid, when asked if his friends are mainly Malays. “Of course I still have my kampong friend (referring to his Geylang Serai roots). But I’m also interacting a lot with my non-Malay business friends, from my more than 40 years in business.”
He is multi-lingual. He can speak Thai, Malay, Indonesian, Spanish, a little bit of Mandarin, Hokkien, Hindi and, of course, English.
He urges people to be more culturally and socially accepting regarding his race as he had seen many hard comments accusing him for not being a “Malay”, since he is of Pakistani origi: “I’m a neutral and independent guy with no personal agenda. I sincerely want to serve the people.”
Here’s a video of how he celebrates Hari Raya Haji.
Curious to learn more on how Farid Khan celebrates Hari Raya Haji? In this video, Farid Khan answers our 4 questions, reminisce fond memories of his mom's home cooked food and many more. #faridkhansingapore #EidAdha
Posted by Farid Khan on Thursday, 31 August 2017
“My daughter sells bracelets at Orchard Road”
Aside from being the chairman of a few companies, Mr Farid enjoys funding his daughter’s social good deeds too.
The 24-year-old has initiated Reyna Movement based in Malaysia for refugee
women’s rights since April 2016. Previously, she had been volunteering at Aceh,
Indonesia to conduct classes at a school.
“She makes some bracelets and sells them at Orchard Road,” he recalled.
Q&A: Getting Personal
Q: Are you supportive of death penalty?
A: Anyone who harms or kills should be dealt with according to the laws.
Q: How do you see PAP personally?
A: My philosophy is: I do not support people who do bad things; I support people who do good things. I don’t have a political view.
Q: Which leader do you admire?
A: Nelson Mandela. He brought unity to South Africa.
Q: How about local leaders?
A: Ong Teng Cheong. He was in a difficult position but managed very well.
Q: How do you see Dr Tan Cheng Bock?
A: He is a good doctor, a good MP, and a good man.
Q: How many ribbons are you planning to cut?
A: Is there a record? (with laughter) Don’t waste money on the ribbons. I want to sit on the ground. I prefer to sit down and know where I can help. Fund-raising and youths at risks are causes I’m passionate about.
Q: How do you view MRT breakdowns?
A: I’m sure you’ve read about it as well. It’s very unfortunate. We must find a way to fix it, and I’m speaking here as an engineer.
Q: What books do you like to read?
A: Engineering books. Sorry, I don’t read love stories. I’m into environmental engineering. I’ve also read about Nelson Mandela and Deng Xiaoping.
Q: Are Singaporeans interacting enough with one another?
A: I’m quite concerned with xenophobia. I want other races to understand Islam is not about terrorism. We believe in peace.
Singaporeans on MRT don’t talk or smile at one another, very hostile. But when someone’s in trouble, they are gonna react, very funny.
Q: Care to share how much you will have spent for contesting the election?
A: About $600,000.
Q: What’s your favourite quote?
A: “Do it anyway” – Mother Teresa
Mr Farid had submitted his application forms on Thursday (Aug 24) to officially contest the upcoming reserved presidential election.
Last but not least, Mr Farid Khan had a message for Muslims on this special day via a Facebook post:
“Wishing all Muslims a festive celebration of Eid-ul Adha with family and loved ones!”