6 things to know about George Goh, who will run for president test

6 things to know about George Goh, who will run for president test
Mr George Goh announced on June 12 that he will be running for the presidency, putting an end to several months of speculation.
PHOTO: Berita Harian

SINGAPORE - Entrepreneur George Goh is the second person to throw his hat into the ring for the upcoming presidential election, having made his intentions known in a press statement on Monday.

Here are six things to know about Mr Goh, who will be squaring up against Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam at the polls, if found eligible.

1. Entrepreneur

The 63-year-old is the group executive chairman of Ossia International, a Singapore Exchange-listed company that deals in consumer products such as footwear and apparel.

Market data from the Wall Street Journal shows that Ossia International averaged about $50m in shareholder equity from 2021 to 2023.

According to his personal website, Mr Goh has owned seven listed companies across Singapore, Britain and Australia, including the company that runs sports retail store World of Sports.

During his 40 years as an entrepreneur, he has owned over 100 companies across the Asia-Pacific, Europe and the United States, stated the website.

2. Philanthropist

In 2015, Mr Goh and his wife Lysa Sumali co-founded Border Mission, a charity to support those in need in Singapore, the Himalayan region and developing countries.

Mr Goh’s website says the charity has reached out to elderly cardboard collectors to provide better trolleys and help advocate for better prices for their collected items, as well as worked with centres to help people with disabilities meet their specific living needs.

Mr Goh has also made trips to the Himalayas to provide educational, medical and community care outreach in the region.

Locally, Mr Goh is a council member at the Red Cross Society and an executive board member of the Presbyterian Community Services and Presbyterian Preschool Services.

He is an adviser to the Puan Noor Aishah Intercultural Institute, a non-governmental organisation set up in 2020 to foster cultural fusion.

He was also the non-resident ambassador to Morocco, a post he has held since 2017. He was renewed for a second term as ambassador in September 2020.

On Monday, he said that he had tendered his resignation to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to ensure his independence as a candidate.

3. Opera singer

Mr Goh, who received a degree in music performance from Trinity College London in 2022, showcased his opera singing chops in a recent video with local Christian publication Salt&Light.

In a Facebook post in April, Mr Goh said that it had “been 12 long years of juggling my career and studying, undergoing surgery and hard work before receiving my graduate diploma/honours degree in Music Performance”.

He said that in 2016, he discovered he needed surgery for polyps on his vocal cords – “a death blow for most tenors”.

Two and a half months after surgery, he was given the all-clear to resume singing, and in 2022 graduated as the oldest member of his cohort.

According to his website, Mr Goh enjoys classical singing, jogging, swimming and gardening.

4. Man of faith

In the interview with Salt&Light, Mr Goh spoke about the importance of Christianity to him.

“No matter how hard I work – it can be 16- or 18-hour days – I will find time to serve in the church. Because this is very important. We need a balance between work and serving,” he said.

Combining his love for singing and his faith, Mr Goh said he has sung in the church choir for more than 40 years.

5. Family man

Mr Goh’s current wife, Ms Sumali, is his second. They have a daughter together, Ingrid.

His first wife, with whom he had three children, died when he was 40. The children are named Joanna, Jovina and Jonathan.

He regularly posts about his children and their achievements on his Facebook page, such as Ingrid’s graduation in November 2022 and Joanna’s work with Team Singapore at the recent South-east Asian Games.

Mr Goh’s website states that he grew up in a small kampung with eight siblings – of whom two sisters had to be given away as his parents could not afford them. A brother died at four weeks old.

In a Facebook post in May, Mr Goh wrote about his mother: “She was the most resilient woman I knew… She was always full of love, and I don’t remember being scolded by her. Long after I had established my career, she would worry that I didn’t have enough money, slipping me a $100 note when she could.”

It was reported in 2016 that Mr Goh and his wife had purchased a black-and-white bungalow for the family at Holland Park in 2009.

6. Has mingled with well-known personalities

The father of four has also, within the last year, been posting regularly on his recently set-up social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram.

These updates included meetings or meals with prominent personalities such as national swimmers Yip Pin Xiu, Theresa Goh and Joseph Schooling and actor-filmmaker Jack Neo.

He has also met singers Annette Lee and Nathan Hartono, Dr William Wan, general secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement, and Ambassador Ong Keng Yong.

ALSO READ: Entrepreneur George Goh to run for president

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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