Bourbon Offshore Asia chairman Farid Khan announces bid to be Singapore's next president

Bourbon Offshore Asia chairman Farid Khan announces bid to be Singapore's next president

02:40
With this year’s Presidential Election just two months away, Mr Farid Khan Kaim Khan formally announced his bid for candidacy on Tuesday (Jul 11).

SINGAPORE: With this year’s Presidential Election just two months away, Mr Farid Khan Kaim Khan formally announced his bid for candidacy on Tuesday (Jul 11).

During a press conference held at the Village Hotel Changi, the 62-year-old said he “decided to fulfil the people’s wish and trust by contesting in this upcoming Presidential Election which is reserved for Malays”. 

Mr Farid is chairman of marine services provider company Bourbon Offshore Asia. According to a statement by Mr Farid, the company operated a fleet of more than 500 vessels in 2016. It has about 9,300 employees in 45 countries. 

Mr Farid said he is also founder of “undersea operation firm” Bumi Subsea, which specialises in remotely operated underwater vehicles and diving units for the offshore oil and gas and construction industries.

"CONFIDENT OF QUALIFYING": FARID KHAN

Following changes to the elected presidency, this year’s election has been reserved for candidates from the Malay community. Other changes include stricter eligibility criteria in order to qualify.

For example, candidates in the private sector would have to helm a company with at least S$500 million in shareholders equity. It is unclear if Mr Farid meets the eligibility criteria. When asked by reporters, he said is he "is confident" of qualifying. 

"There are many ways of computing shareholders equity," Mr Farid said. "In the marine sector, we normally have entities all over the place and we have operations here, and in France. And we consolidate everything to France." 

Mr Farid said his team is compiling the documents and will be submitting them "early next week". 

But he added that his experience in the private sector puts him in good stead to qualify. "The experience that I have in dealing with people across this region - the regional exposure that I have - high-level discussions, high-level decisions that I have made every day in my life as a career, as a chairman, as a regional managing director." 

QUALIFYING AS A MALAY CANDIDATE

Mr Farid said he is confident of qualifying as a Malay candidate, even though his identity card identifies him as 'Pakistani'. Under changes to the elected presidency, candidates will be assessed by the Community Committee as to whether they belong to the particular community. 

Mr Farid said all the Malay community is also made up of people from the various sub-ethnic categories, such as Boyanese and Javanese. "All kinds of descent," Mr Farid said.

"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." 

CHAMPIONING EFFORTS TO HELP NEEDY, ADDRESSING RADICALISM

Having had a successful career spanning almost 40 years, Mr Farid said he is at the point where he now wants to serve the country. He worked with self-help group Mendaki's social enterprise arm, SENSE, to help Singaporeans join the maritime industry. 

Mr Farid said he has also been assisting mosques on initiatives that reach out to troubled youths. He said is is concerned about the growing threat of radicalism. “If elected, I will work closely with the Government and various organisations to resolve this issue,” he said.

Other issues close to his heart include strengthening the trust among people regardless of race and religion and enhancing efforts to help the needy and strengthening familial ties, he said.

SUPPORT ON THE GROUND

After the press conference, Mr Farid addressed a group of his "informal supporters", made up of family and friends from the marine and shipping industry. He choked back tears recalling the tough times when he started out "cleaning toilets" after his father's death when he was 13 years old. 

He said he wanted to give back to the country which had given him opportunities to succeed. 

His bid for candidacy comes about a month after four men, led by Mr Borhan Saini, director of administrative and business development at Future Energy Solutions, collected application forms at the Elections Department.

Mr Borhan, who also sent the media invite to reporters for Tuesday’s event, did not disclose who they were collecting forms for then, except to say the potential candidate was in his early 60s and chairman of a multinational company.

Source: CNA/kk