News Analysis |
Amid widespread criticism, Halima Yacob has been formally elected as the eighth and the first Muslim female President for the city-state of Singapore. A robust representation of Muslim Malay minority, Yacob will be sworn in as the head of State on Thursday, 14th September.
Not being a controversial figure herself, Yacob’s selection as President is not only bagging disapproval by the various segments but is also heaving up objections over the electoral process, that led to her selection.
Others say that the election process would have given legitimacy to her appointment since she has a profound experience in public office
Yacob stood as the only eligible candidate against all her four opponents, who submitted their papers for nomination to the Election office. The disqualification of other candidates hence led her to be declared as the ‘President’.
Read more: Lessons to learn from Singapore
According to the election office, two of the four candidates did not belong to Malay minority, which formed the basis of annulment of their nomination. While the remaining two were not issued a certificate of eligibility. Hence Yacob was the sole nominee, who succeeded in attaining the certificate of eligibility for the Presidency.
The theme of ‘inclusivity’ dominated the Presidential election after the constitutional changes that were made to ensure that the presidency reflected the multiracial composition of Singapore’s society.
She entered politics at the request of Goh Chok Ton in 2001 and was elected as the Member of Parliament for Jurong Group Representation Constituency
The Presidency, largely a ceremonial post, was reserved for minorities; Muslim Malay minority. The decision was however taken in a bid to strengthen this intactness that multicultural city-State of Singapore enjoys.
Her Presidential Speech
“I stand before you as the second Malay president in 47 years of our history. I believe that this is a proud moment for Singapore, for multiculturalism and multi racialism in our society. This shows that multiracialism is not just a slogan, something good for us to say or hear. It means it really works in our society that everyone has the chance to (make it to) the highest office of the land,” she said.
She also spoke about being Singapore’s first woman president: “It shows that this is not just tokenism, that when we talk about gender diversity we are not just chanting slogans, we really mean it. Every woman can aspire to the highest office of the land if you have the courage, determination and the will to work hard.”
She also expressed her stern desire to work for the betterment of the Singapore, since she stated that, she is not just the Malay President but she is the President for all.
History of Malay Presidents
It was in 1970 when Singapore last had its Malay President, named Yousuf Ishak, between 1965 to 1970, while Lee Kuan Yew was the first Prime Minister for the newly independent state of Singapore. Hence Yacob’s selection as the Malay President came after 47 years.
The separation of Singapore, from Malaysia, gave ethnic Malays a clear majority in Malaysia, while ethnic Chinese became the majority in Singapore.
Halima Yacob’s biography; road to the Presidency
Madam Halim Yacob, 63, since 2013 held the key government post of Speaker of Parliament from which she resigned in August this year for the presidency.
Madam Halima’s life journey is a true depiction of women empowerment and struggle. Daughter of a single parent, her mother raised Yacob and her five siblings after the death of her father when she was merely eight.
In her bio, she has written about her tales of living the firsthand poverty while narrating her struggles for survival.
She has obtained a Masters Degree in Law from Singapore National University. In 1978, she got herself associated with the National Trade Union Congress for 30 years, serving in various roles
She has obtained a Masters Degree in Law from Singapore National University. In 1978, she got herself associated with the National Trade Union Congress for 30 years, serving in various roles. Lastly she worked as the Deputy Secretary General for the Union.
She entered politics at the request of Goh Chok Ton in 2001 and was elected as the Member of Parliament for Jurong Group Representation Constituency. In 2011, she was given the portfolio of Minister of State-development, Youth, and Sports.
Her appointment, however, has irked most of the Singapore who were expected to vote at the end of this week. Her election without vote has been described as illegitimate and undemocratic. While calling her a stalwart of the establishment, opponents have questioned about her origins of being ‘Malay’ and have further criticized the constitutional change done to achieve the political agendas. Others say that the election process would have given legitimacy to her appointment since she has a profound experience in public office.