George Goh believes he’s the Mao Shan Wang of presidential candidates

SINGAPORE – Mr George Goh pulls out a wallet from his pocket, its leather weathered and shape bent by age. From it, he retrieves a folded piece of paper, filled with handwritten jottings and numbers, some of which are highlighted.

“This piece of paper has been with me for more than 10 years… I’ve recorded all my journeys from 2009 until 2023,” says the 63-year-old presidential hopeful.

“I like to write down certain things – for example, how I won’t die until I achieve certain things in my life,” adds the serial entrepreneur.

His businesses include Ossia International, a Singapore Exchange-listed retailer of consumer goods; Harvey Norman Ossia, which brought the consumer electronics and furniture brand to Asia; and ITG International, which is currently developing a $1 billion mixed-development project in Jiang Xi province, China.

Among other things, the small envelope-sized piece of paper tells him when some of the companies he runs have hit an average shareholders’ equity of at least $500 million over three years, a qualifying requirement for the presidency.

Mr Goh declines to show The Straits Times what is on the piece of paper or name the companies that meet that criterion.

”I’ve not even submitted (the nomination) form to the Elections Department… we’re going to submit (it) soon. Let’s do it step by step and respect the system,” he says.

However, he adds emphatically: “Aiyah, if I don’t have the $500 million, I would not waste time.”

Meeting that criterion, he says, has been a priority since the last presidential election in 2017, when businessmen Mohamed Salleh Marican and Farid Khan were disqualified because they did not meet the minimum $500 million shareholder equity threshold.

Earnestly, Mr Goh tells you he is not doing it for the fame or fortune. If his bungalow – where he, his wife and four children have lived for the past 10 years – is any indication, he is a very rich man.

Sitting on 2,000 sq m of land in the Holland Road area, it is a verdant sanctuary surrounded by dense foliage and trees old and newly planted.


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