Speaker of Parliament and People’s Action Party Member of Parliament, Mdm Halimah Yacob has indicated her intention in standing in the upcoming Presidential Elections in September this year.
Speaking at a community event at her Marsiling ward on Sunday (16 July), Mdm Halimah said, “I am thinking about it, of running for the presidency…The elected presidency is a very heavy responsibility and an important institution in Singapore, so it’s not something that one should take lightly… so it needs a bit of time to think.”
Madam Halimah said she has been asked the question “many, many times” by Singaporeans from all walks of life, and was honoured and humbled.
Under the Section 19 (3) (a) of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore for the qualifying criteria of the President, “The public sector service requirement is that the person has held office for a period of 3 or more years as Minister, Chief Justice, Speaker, Attorney-General, Chairman of the Public Service Commission, Auditor-General, Accountant-General or Permanent Secretary.”
Therefore, Mdm Halimah qualifies to stand as a candidate from the public sector, without having to be a chairperson of a company with $500 million worth of shareholders equities.
Mr Farid Khan who had earlier announced his intention to stand for the Presidential Election, commented that he welcomes Madam Halimah’s intention to contest in the upcoming Presidential Election.
Indian Muslim not an issue
Although Mdm Halimah is a Indian Muslim due to inheriting her father race as per Singapore immigration regulation prior to changes in 2010, that will not be an issue for her in the upcoming Presidential Election.
Minister at Prime Minister’s Office, Chan Chun Sing has stated it clearly in the Parliamentary earlier this year:
“On the issue of language, I would say that the community committee and the respective sub-committees will need to assess the person holistically. Yes, language will be one of the criteria. But we are also keenly aware that all of us, regardless of our race, language or religion, may practise our religions slightly differently, may live our lifestyles differently. But the key is this: do the respective sub-committees consider the person belonging to their community, as the package, holistically? That is the key point.
As to how Committees work, I would not want to prescribe their role and it will be not my remit to comment on how they should go about doing their function. But the philosophy has never changed. The philosophy is that, as a package, do you believe that this person belongs to your community. And I believe that the people in the committees are wise enough to know how to make the judgement call, considering all the factors that you have mentioned.”
Therefore, even if one is of Indian descent or Pakistani descent, one can qualify as a Malay candidate so long the Malay Community Committee endorses the candidate as an individual seen to be representing the committee.
Will there be a by-election?
The issue that Mdm Halimah’s political party will face is whether would there be a by-election at Marsiling-
MP for Aljunied GRC, Mr Pritam Singh asked in Parliament, “Will a by-election be called in a GRC when the minority member of a GRC steps down to contest in a Presidential election? Can the Government set out its position on this matter in light of the introduction of reserved Presidential elections.”
In response, Mr Chan said there would be no by-election even if a minority member of a GRC steps down. He said:
“These were the two very clear reasons why we established the GRC system in this House. The Members of the GRC team who are elected to serve their respective GRCs are expected to serve all their residents, regardless of race, language or religion
Mr Goh Chok Tong was further asked: if one Member of the GRC team resigns or for whatever medical reason is incapacitated, does the GRC need to hold a by-election? And the answer was given that it is no, because, recalling the two specific reasons that we set up the GRC system: one was to ensure that this House has sufficient minority representation and, given our current circumstances, we have more than what we would expect by a pure proportional representation system; two, the aim was to make sure that no parties campaigned on the issues of race, language or religion; and three, all Members of the GRC team are expected to serve all their residents regardless of race, language and religion.
Madam, I beg your indulgence. This is totally unrelated. But since it was asked, I will put on record our reply. Today, we have 25 minority Members of Parliament out of 89 elected. Even if we have one less, there are 24 out of 89, which is 27% of Parliament.”
Is this all just a pre-scripted show?
When Mdm Halimah was asked why she decided to address the topic now, she said: “A lot of Singaporeans have asked me so that’s why I want to share with you the thought processes that I go through…before making the final decision.”
Now look at the video.
Mdm Halimah is officially opening an orchid garden and an edible garden at her constituency and a reporter asks whether she has considered running for the position of the President, which she then decides to answer positively to the question instead of giving her usual response about the matter.
In an article published in Feb this year, TOC wrote on the address of “Mdm President” by Mr Chan in Parliament. It pointed out that there have been obvious hints that the establishment is pushing Mdm Halimah as the candidate for the Presidential Election through articles in Mainstream Media on how she will be able to qualify and how she would be best suited for the job.
The subsequent “freudian slip” by Mr Chan, made the matter even more troubling when he addressed the Speaker as Mdm President. One can not think why one would make such a mistake especially as a seasoned politician and speaker, unless there has been an inside joke about the Speaker to become Mdm President in time to come.
By expressing her intention to contest in the upcoming Presidential Election, may very well put everything that have transpired over the two years into place in the form of a well-orchestrated play for Singaporeans to watch.
A constitutional committee was to be formed under the recommendation of Dr Tony Tan to address the issues of the Elected Presidency, which subsequently came up with a suggestion for a reserved election and wholeheartedly accepted by the PAP government. The well-liked and qualified Indian Muslim Speaker decides to leave her public position as Speaker of Parliament and quit her political party so that she can stand in the reserved election for Malay candidates and hopefully serve the greater public interest as the President of Singapore.
“According to Section 15 of the Presidential Election Act, I declare Mdm Halimah Binti Yacob to be elected to the office of President” said the returning officer at nomination centre, Singapore’s first female President since independence as there is no other qualified Malay candidates contesting in the election.