The Presidential Elections Committee (PEC) has revealed the five companies that George Goh Ching Wah listed in his application to run for president, as it refuted his claim that the reason he was disqualified was not disclosed to him.
The Committee revealed that the five companies Mr Goh referenced were Ossia International Limited, Pertama Holdings Pte Ltd, ITG International Pte Ltd, Crown Essentials Limited, and Vernal Ventures Pte Ltd. He served in chief executive positions at all five firms.
Mr Goh has, so far, refused to name the companies he listed in his application, claiming that he wished to avoid stressing the companies. His nondisclosure has led to some criticism that he is not transparent with potential voters.
In a press statement on Friday evening (18 Aug), the PEC made clear that Mr Goh’s bid was rejected because his experience in handling several smaller private sector companies did not equate to the skills required to manage a much larger entity.
The PEC’s statement came hours after the Elections Department announced that Certificates of Eligibility have been issued to ex-Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, ex-GIC chief economist Mr Ng Kok Song, and ex-NTUC Income chief Tan Kin Lian.
The ELD said then that the PEC will not make the reasons for rejecting those who did not qualify public, although unsuccessful applicants are not precluded from publishing them.
Mr Goh then said in a press statement that the PEC had taken a “very narrow interpretation of the requirements without explaining the rationale behind its decision” as he called the decision “not fair” and a “setback to Singapore”.
The PEC refuted this. Asserting that it carefully considered Mr Goh’s application, based on the proper application of Article 19(4)(b) of the Constitution, the PEC said it is publicly releasing its letter to Mr Goh explaining the rationale behind its decision in response to the allegations he made against the Committee.
The PEC said, “As mentioned in the Committee’s letter to Mr Goh, Article 19(4)(b) requires the Committee to consider whether an applicant has the experience and ability that comes
from managing one very large private sector organisation – the experience and ability
that comes from managing multiple smaller private sector organisations is not
equivalent to this.”
In its statement, the PEC said that Mr Goh asked the Committee to regard the five companies as a single private sector organisation, despite the fact that the companies “are not a unitary company and are not owned by a common holding company.”
The PEC said, “The Committee carefully considered Mr Goh’s submission. However, after
taking into account the relevant facts and circumstances (including how the companies
were owned, managed and operated), the Committee was not satisfied that the five
companies constituted a single private sector organisation.
“Consequently, for the reasons explained in the Committee’s letter to Mr Goh, the Committee was unable to grant Mr Goh a Certificate of Eligibility under Article 19(4)(b) of the Constitution.”
In the PEC’s letter to Mr Goh, the Committee noted that the shareholders’ equity of each of the five companies was “significantly below S$500 million”, which is the minimum requirement for applicants who apply on the private sector track.
The letter explained to Mr Goh, “Thus, the committee was not satisfied, having regard to the nature of your office in each of the companies and your performance in the office, and the size and complexity of each of the companies, that you have experience and ability that is comparable to the experience and ability of a person who has served as the chief executive of a typical company with at least S$500m in shareholders’ equity.”