As we get closer to Syawal, Malays in Singapore are also getting closer and closer to the day of reckoning – come election day in September, Singapore will have its first Malay President since the late Encik Yusof Ishak, albeit in a reserved election. People like Dr Tan Cheng Bock and human rights lawyer M Ravi are challenging the constitutionality of the elections but chances are, the elections will go through. Up till now, we still don’t know which candidate PAP will support but everyone thinks it’ll be current Speaker of Parliament, Halimah Yacob. What about alternative candidates who are independent from PAP? Besides Mr Salleh Marican, no one has stood up to be counted. The silence is deafening but unsurprising.
Poor Mr Salleh Marican has faced a lot criticism the moment he announced his candidacy. A lot of people have, rightly so, questioned his candidacy as he is not purely of Malay ethnicity. His lepak interview with BeritaMediacorp outside the elections department where he basically mangled the Malay language, did nothing to convince Singaporeans that he is adequately Malay. Some more critical ones have even taken to disparaging his wife’s appearance. All this is nothing but damaging to his confidence in running for Presidency.
What Singaporeans must appreciate is that it takes a lot of courage for a successful businessman like Mr Salleh Marican to take up public office. He does not need to do this because he needs the money. He doesn’t. He is already rich. He is doing this because he wants to. He wants to serve because heeded the call of Lee Hsien Loong for capable and qualified Malay Singaporeans to step up to contest the elections.
He may have been a mess but it could just be nerves, One doesn’t create a multi-million dollar empire overnight. Mr Salleh Marican has the mettle and the political savvy to succeed.
He also has his heart in the right places. Besides his business, Mr Salleh Marican is actively involved in philanthropic activities. Since 2009, Mr Salleh Marican was appointed a founding member of the Board of Temasek Cares, a philanthropic organisation established by GIC Temasek Holdings. Halimah Yacob was also a founding board member.
Temasek Cares had help fund the setting up of the Family Therapy Institute in Eunos, run by PPIS.
He is now also a Treasurer of the Temasek Cares Board, ‘who now includes former PAP MP, Zainul Abidin Rasheed.
There are not many candidates with Mr Salleh Marican’s background. There are also not many candidates like him who are brave enough to step up. However, is he truly the candidate for the Malay community?
We call on other Malay leaders to follow in the footsteps of Mr Salleh Marican to offer themselves as a candidate for Presidency. Some may say that too many candidates will dilute the votes for non-establishment candidates but an election is about the exercise of power by the individual through the ballot box. Singaporeans are smart enough to choose the right candidates with the right credentials. One who is independent from the influences of the incumbent.