A well-known name in Singapore offshore circles has launched his candidacy to become president of the Southeast Asian republic.
Farid Khan Kaim Khan, the 62-year-old chairman of Bourbon Offshore Asia Pacific, officially kicked off his campaign yesterday with a call for greater harmony among the city-state’s many different races amid a perceived threat of growing radicalism.
“If elected, I will work closely with the government and various organisations to resolve the issue,” he said.
The elections are due to be held in September. If elected, Khan would not be the first political leader in Singapore to come from a shipping background. The nation’s second prime minister, Goh Chok Tong, worked for Neptune Orient Lines for most of the 1970s.
Khan’s route to the Istana, the official presidential residence in Singapore, is not straightforward however. For a start he is of Pakistani heritage and new laws call for a Malay president this time around. Moreover, candidates in the private sector have to be in charge of a company with at least S$500m in shareholders equity to qualify for the presidential race. Bourbon’s Asian unit is estimated to have around S$300m in shareholder equity.
“I was born in the Malay village, Geylang Serai. It’s difficult for me to call myself anything else (but Malay). I live in the society I love very much. I went to the same school with them, I shared the same tears, the same joys with the people around me in the Malay village. I consider myself a Malay of Pakistani descent,” Khan told reporters yesterday.
The position of president in Singapore is largely ceremonial with the prime minister actually heading up government.