63-year old Halimah Yacob will be sworn into office on Thursday, September 14, 2017, as the new and first female president of Singapore.
While her “walk over” victory is indeed historic, it has also come with an air of controversy. It is Ironic that she was predicted to emerge president but on her victory, many find faults with the process that effortlessly dropped the presidency on her laps.
With the disqualification of 2 of her contenders, Halimah was announced winner with no elections conducted.
Expressing her profound joy over the won victory, Yacob in her speech assured the people of a fair and committed leadership.
“I am a president for everyone, regardless of race, language, religion or creed.
“Although there’s no election, my commitment to serve you remains the same.”
In Singapore, the presidential post is mostly ceremonial. The president only has significant authority over Singapore’s asset and financial reserves; but holds no executive powers as the prime minister or members of the cabinet.
Halimah Yacob’s Bio/Personal Life
The current president was born on August 23, 1954. She is partly of Indian and Malay descent.
Her watchman father died when she was 8 years old. To that effect, Yacob was raised by her mother.
She attended Singapore Chinese Girls’ School and Tanjong Katong Girls’ School. For her higher education, she studied at the University of Singapore where she completed an LLB (Hons) degree in 1978.
Yacob made it to the Singapore Bar in 1981. By 2001, she had completed an LLM degree at the National University of Singapore. 7 years later she was conferred an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from NUS.
The top politician and academician is a wife and mother. Halimah is married to Mohammed Abdullah Alhabshee, a retiree of Arab descent. Together they have five children.
Halimah Yacob’s Political Prowess
The subtle but vibrant Amazon has made a record in the history of Singaporean politics.
For 3 years until the time of the presidential race (7 August 2017), she served as the speaker of parliament. That made her the 9th speaker of the parliament as well as the first woman to hold the position.
In the same way, she has become the first ever female president-elect and subsequently first female president of Singapore. She is recorded to be the second president from the Malay ethnic minority. The first was 47 years ago with the victory of late Yusof Ishak in the 60s.
As it concerns women empowerment, Halimah said this in her victory speech,
“Every woman can aspire to the highest office in the land when you have the courage, determination and will to work hard.”
Halimah Yacob’s Race
Singapore is known for a harmony of multiculturalism and diversity. The Asian country has a population of 5.5 million of which the majority are of Chinese ethnicity. Regardless of the number, the Singaporean authorities specifically opened this year’s presidential race for Malay candidates.
Halimah is racially mixed but identifies herself with the Muslim Malay ethnicity.
Halimah Yacob’s Presidential Controversy
Being the only candidate given the Certificate of Eligibility, Halimah’s victory came with unprecedented ease as it did with arguments.
Unlike the last presidential elections, no votes were cast to determine this year’s winner. Citizens who were keen on exercising their civil rights were disappointed to know that their votes didn’t count this time.
Some have suggested that this was a government-manipulated strategy to “select” a leader of their choice. They called it a slam on meritocracy since the victory was awarded to Halimah regardless of her capability.
Prominent business figures Salleh Marican and Farid Khan were denied the Certificate of Eligibility because they did not meet up with shareholders’ equity mark designated by the government last year.
Both men’s companies did not have a minimum of 500 million Singapore dollars ($372 million).
Interestingly, Halimah did not have it either. Her only rope to success was her service as the speaker of the parliament. Constitutionally, having served in a certain public office position was an added advantage.
On the issue of limiting the presidential slots to Malay candidates, some other critics have reasons to believe it was done intentionally to block all chances of past presidential candidate, Tan Cheng Bock from running again.
The said political titan was a tough competition for Tony Tan, the president who is about to hand over.