SINGAPORE, July 30 — The public should let the Presidential Elections Committee (PEC) do its job of evaluating prospective candidates, and not put pressure on them, presidential hopeful George Goh said today.
He was elaborating on questions posed to him earlier in the week about the coming Presidential Election potentially being a two-horse race between former Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and ex-GIC chief investment officer Ng Kok Song.
“We have to let them (the PEC) fairly assess the situation of the candidates,” Goh said to the media during a visit to Haig Road Market and Food Centre today.
“We should not have outside forces influence them.”
The PEC consists of six members, and is chaired by chairman of the Public Service Commission Lee Tzu Yang.
It holds the power to decide whether a prospective candidate is qualified to run for President.
Prospective presidential candidates from the private sector are required to run a firm with at least S$500 million (RM1.7 billion) in shareholders’ equity during the person’s most recent three-year period as chief executive officer (CEO), among other criteria.
Goh runs a group of companies which he says has a collective market capitalisation value of S$3.15 billion.
However, some experts had earlier told TODAY that clause 4(b) of Article 19 in the Constitution provides some discretion for the PEC to assess a candidate’s suitability to run for President under what is called the “deliberative track”.
Through this route, the committee must be satisfied that the prospective private sector candidate has the experience and ability comparable to that of someone who has served as the CEO of a profitable company with at least S$500 million in shareholders’ equity for three years.
“I think PEC has a big job as there are two candidates currently who will go through the deliberative track,” said Goh, referring to Ng and himself.
Ng’s application falls under the public sector deliberative track. This track is for those who claim to have experience and ability comparable to that of those who automatically qualify, and can effectively carry out the functions and duties of the President.
Goh, the founder of Harvey Norman Ossia, said that having candidates from both the public and private sector is “healthy” and shows that Singapore is progressing.
“This shows that people want change, we can’t continue the system of having (candidates from only) one sector alone,” he said.
Goh added that the country should welcome candidates who are qualified, regardless of whether they are from the public or private sector.
Addressing Ng’s comments that if he becomes President, Singapore can have the “best of three worlds”, Goh said that he will leave it to Singaporeans to make their choices.
“I trust the people… They know what’s going on at the moment and they know what they want. I think they know which candidates are suitable for the current situation,” he said.
On how he views his chances based on interactions with people so far, Goh said: “For me, I want to put 100 per cent of my effort to understand my people.”
He added that he wants people to know him.
“So I will do my best to explain who I am and why I am standing for the election,” he said. — TODAY