Madam Halimah Yacob, 63, became the first woman and first Malay in 47 years to ascend to the highest office, after successfully filing her nomination papers on Wednesday (Sept 13) as the sole eligible candidate for this year’s reserved Presidential Election.
She will be officially sworn in as Singapore’s eighth President on Thursday, 6pm, at the Istana, the Prime Minister’s Office announced.
Returning Officer Ng Wai Choong declared Mdm Halimah as the President-elect at the People’s Association headquarters along King George’s Avenue to loud cheers by hundreds of Mdm Halimah’s supporters.
Addressing several hundred supporters assembled at the Nomination Centre, Halimah said, “This is a proud moment for Singapore, for multiculturalism and multi-racialism. This shows that multi-racialism 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.”
Observing that her ascendancy to the Presidency is evidence that Singapore’s commitment to gender diversity is not mere tokenism, she said, “Every woman can aspire to the highest office of the land if you have the courage, determination and will to work hard.”
Declaring her commitment to the Singaporean people, she said, “I represent everyone. My duty remains only to Singapore and Singaporeans, my duty remains only to you.”
She added, “Although this is a reserved election, I am not a reserved president. I am a president for everyone, regardless of race, language, religion or creed.”
Notably, this year the Presidential election was reserved for Malays after changes were made in the Elected Presidency scheme by the Parliament last November.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien loong has congratulated Halimah Yacob on becoming the eighth President of the nation. He hoped that she will bring to the Presidency her long experience working with Singaporeans from all walks of life, and championing workers and disadvantaged groups.
Besides Halimah, there were two other hopefuls, Mohammad Salleh Marican, chief executive of Second Chance Properties and Farid Khan, chairman of marine services provider Bourbon Offshore Asia Pacific, who had filed application forms for contesting the Presidential elections.
However, the candidature of both men was rejected as they were determined ineligible by the Presidential Elections Committee for not meeting one of the qualifying criteria, which requires that private-sector candidates must have served as the chief executive of a company for at least three years, with the company having at least SGD500 million in shareholders’ equity, on average, in the most recent three years.