SINGAPORE — Singapore national marathoner Soh Rui Yong expressed his dissatisfaction on social media after businessman George Goh was denied the certificate of eligibility (COE) for the Presidential Elections. Amidst this backdrop, Soh is contemplating casting his vote for Tan Kin Lian in the upcoming Presidential Election.
What may seem like a cheeky and lighthearted remark brings out a deeper meaning and understanding to his post as Soh used a simple and different approach to explain the criteria to qualify as a candidate for the presidential election.
He mentioned that if Singapore were to reverse engineer the selection process and select him as the president, all they need to do is to include a ‘fitness requirement.’
“Candidates must have run sub 7 min 2.4km, broken national records, and won gold medals for Singapore. Justification? The President must set a good example in physical fitness and must be in good health,” posted Soh on his Facebook page.
“Sounds dumb, right? But this is after all, as arbitrary as needing to be CEO of a company with $500 million in shareholders equity, having served at a high position in public office, or, in the case of 2017, being of Malay race,” added the multiple SEA Games medallist.
Soh voiced his disappointment as he believed Goh, who had positioned himself as a neutral, non-establishment candidate, had been politicked out of the presidential election, which he referred to as yet ‘another classic example of the establishment snuffing out potential threats.’
Although Goh failed to obtain the CEO, Singaporeans will still go to the polls on Sept 1 as three other presidential hopefuls managed to obtain the required their. They are former Singapore senior minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, ex-GIC chief investment officer, and former NTUC Income CEO Tan Kin Lian.
While Soh strongly believes Tharman is the strongest candidate out of the remaining three presidential hopefuls, he is now considering casting a vote for Tan after witnessing how Goh is unsuccessful in his COE application.
“Tharman Shanmugaratnam is by far the strongest candidate this year, and I honestly would have voted for him even with George as a candidate. Establishment candidate or not, he’s the strongest candidate in my view,” explained Soh. Removing George Goh from the race in this manner delegitimises the elections, and makes me now think about submitting a protest vote to Tan Kin Lian,” asserted Soh.
On Aug 18, the Presidential Elections Committee (PEC) issued a statement explaining their reasons for not issuing a certificate of eligibility to businessman 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 organization – the experience and ability that comes from managing multiple smaller private sector organizations is not equivalent to this. Mr Goh’s application acknowledged that the five companies he relied on are not unitary companies and are not owned by a common holding company, but Mr. Goh submitted that the five companies should be regarded as a single private sector organization,” explained the Presidential Elections Committee.
The five companies submitted by Goh for his COE application are; Ossia International Limited, Pertama Holdings Pte Ltd, ITG International Pte Ltd, Crown Essentials Limited, and Vernal Ventures Pte Ltd.
The PEC said that after considering the relevant facts and circumstances, including how the companies were owned, managed, and operated, the PEC was not satisfied that the five companies constituted a single private sector organization. Therefore, under Article 19(4)(b) of the Constitution, they could not grant a certificate of eligibility to Goh.