SINGAPORE: Former presidential hopeful Mohamed Salleh Marican has come out in support of presidential candidate Ng Kok Song. Mr. Salleh, who couldn’t qualify to run for the presidency in 2017 when President Halimah Yacob was elected unopposed, is on the team of the proposer, seconder, and assenters supporting Mr. Ng’s team.
Mr Salleh, one of the eight assenters, praised Mr Ng in a short video released by the ngkokseng official Instagram account.
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Addressing young Singaporeans, Mr Salleh says:
“What I would like the young people to understand is they were born when Singapore was already in the first world.
What we understand is that things can easily go wrong. So it’s very, very important that we choose a president who’s truly independent because we never know when a crisis is going to take place.
You can see what’s happening in Israel. The ruling party wants to change the system to have more control over the courts. Look at Thailand. The winning party in a so-called democracy… the leader of the party cannot be the prime minister.
You see how dangerous it is for the ruling party when they are in power, especially when they control parliament with a majority; they can easily make changes.
This is why the independent president is very critical.
It is very risky, highly unadvisable, for a member of the ruling party to be the president of Singapore.
So far, we are lucky. Nothing serious happened in the past. So if you want to think properly about what independence is, it can only be tested in a crisis. So far, there is no real crisis to test the president of the past.
Let’s say in the future if our own prime minister is suspected of corruption, then there is a situation whereby the independence of the president is most crucial.”
Mr Salleh adds:
“I strongly believe Kok Song has many qualities. This is a man of high intellect determined to succeed in life, and he has succeeded. He is the story of the Singapore dream. He has gone through many recessions in the past, running the hundreds of billions of dollars of our reserves. He has risen to the rank of chief investment officer of GIC. On top of that, he has been given the Meritorious Service Medal by the Government for his work in GIC.
But best of all, he’s a very nice man, very approachable, a good listener. These are the qualities that we need in a president. We cannot have a president who thinks of himself or herself as belonging to the upper class and looks down on the ordinary Singaporean. Kok Song is a man that I can see can easily relate to the ordinary person. That is the reason why I feel that he should be our next president.”
Incidentally, Mr Salleh also praised Madam Halimah Yacob before she became President.
Calling her “a good candidate”, Salleh said, “Whoever is the government candidate will be my opponent but if you ask me who I prefer not to contest against, it will be Madam Halimah.” He added, “She has a good reputation and is popular. Moreover, as a woman, she has one comparative advantage and that is, women will vote for her.”
Mr. Salleh, founder, and chief executive of Second Chance Properties, failed to qualify as a presidential candidate in 2017 for the same reason entrepreneur George Goh did not make the cut this year: Candidates from the private sector must have served as the chief executive of a company with at least $500 million in shareholder equity.
Mr Ng, the 75-year-old former chief investment officer of GIC, who is running against former senior minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and former NTUC Income chief Tan Kin Lian for the Singapore presidency, announced his team of proposer, seconder, and eight assenters on Monday (August 21) on the eve of Nomination Day.
Here is the complete list, including information provided by Mr Ng’s media team.
Mr Quah Wee Ghee, co-founder of global asset management company Avanda Investment Management with Mr Ng Kok Song. Mr Wee is also the former president of Public Markets at GIC and served on the boards of OCBC and Bank of Singapore.
Dr Carol Tan, a specialist at The Good Life Medical Centre. Dr. Tan has been involved in licensing and setting up standards and the financing framework for community services, including nursing homes, community hospitals, daycare centers, hospice, and home help services.
Justice of Peace Ameerali Abdeali;
Fullerton Fund Management chairman Ho Tian Yee;
Former Montfort School Management Committee chairman Chua Cher Choon;
Second Chance Properties founder and chief executive Mohamed Salleh Marican;
Philanthropist Margaret Chan;
Association of Muslim Professionals founding member Abdul Hamid Abdullah;
Tjo Hans, who has taught at the Faculty of Law at the National University of Singapore since 1990; and
DP Architects chairman Angelene Chan.
Mr Ng has been praised by not only his team members. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s wife and former Temasek Holdings CEO Ho Ching lauded Mr Ng’s contributions to Singapore wealth management after he announced his bid for the presidency on July 19.
“He thought then that Singapore could be a wealth management hub for Asia and believed in equipping our people with the right training,” she wrote in a Facebook post on August 13.
“The President acts as the guardian of Past Reserves,” says the President of the Republic of Singapore website, outlining the President’s duties. The President’s responsibilities extend to “all fiscal matters touching on Singapore’s reserves”.