SINGAPORE — George Goh, founder of Harvey Norman Ossia, has announced his intention to run for the presidency in Singapore on Monday (12 June).
This makes the 63-year-old the second person to publicise his intention to take part in the upcoming Presidential Election, following Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam's announcement last Thursday.
According to a statement from his media team, Goh will run as an independent candidate. He has no affiliations with any political party, both in the past and present.
"He has no political baggage. He was never in the public sector," the media statement said.
"He is an entrepreneur who started working at the age of 16, and has since built a business empire spanning 14 countries."
Brought Australian electronics brand to Asia
Goh brought the Australian electronics store Harvey Norman to Asia, and currently serves as the chairman of Ossia International, an investment holding company listed on SGX.
According to his website, he has also owned seven listed companies across Singapore, Britain and Australia, including the company that runs sports retail store World of Sports.
Goh has also served as Singapore's non-resident ambassador to Morocco since 2017. Alongside his professional endeavours, he is involved in various charitable activities, including co-founding the charity Border Mission and serving as a council member at the Red Cross Society.
"Being so closely aligned with the ruling political party, the question is whether (Tharman) is the right man to become President," Goh said in his media statement.
"This is especially so, given the President’s role in checking the Government in the two important areas concerned with the national reserves and key public office appointments.
"To maintain the integrity of the office, the President must not only be above politics but be perceived as such."
Prospective candidates, including Mr. Goh, can apply for a Certificate of Eligibility starting from June 13, which is the first step to enter the presidential race. They must also submit a community declaration.
Decision to run was made back in 2017
Goh said in his media statement that he had made his decision to run for the Presidency in 2017, after the eligibility criteria for private sector candidates was raised.
He was concerned that the more stringent conditions might lead to another uncontested election, as was the case in 2017 with President Halimah Yacob, a former Speaker of Parliament.
“All four of Singapore’s past elected presidents were political appointment holders or from the public sector. It is time to have a truly independent person with a pair of fresh eyes to play the role the Elected President was created for," Goh said.
President Halimah - who is Singapore's eighth President and the first female President - will end her six-year term on 13 September. On 29 May, she announced her decision not to seek a second term.
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