Singapore

Cheers as Halimah arrives at PA headquarters

Supporters gather in Jalan Besar, where Halimah Yacob is named President-elect

Talk of a "booing parade" did not materialise in the end, although there was much noise by the crowd of about 700 people who had turned up to support Madam Halimah Yacob yesterday at the People's Association (PA) headquarters in Jalan Besar, where she was declared President-elect.

Her supporters - many clad in her campaign colour of orange - chanted Madam Halimah's name, whistled and jingled tambourines.

The cheering started when the 63-year-old arrived with her husband, Mr Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee, and her team of seconders around 11.15am.

One of the earliest to get to the venue was Miss Norhashimah Kamarudin, 30, who arrived on transport provided by Ain Society, a charity Madam Halimah is advisor to.

When asked how she felt about the criticism surrounding Madam Halimah's Indian-Muslim heritage, Miss Norhashimah, manager of Ain Society's Clubskidz programme, told The New Paper: "I do not think we should look at people about their race but more at their credibility."

Some have complained about the lack of a contest in Singapore's first reserved presidential election, this time for Malay candidates. Madam Halimah, a former Speaker of Parliament, was the only candidate who qualified to stand.

Mr Philip Lee, 60, one of several union members who carried banners "so that she will know we support her", urged Singaporeans to unite behind Madam Halimah, who will be the country's first female president.

Mr Lee, the general secretary of the Singapore Industrial & Services Employees' Union, said: "Regardless of whether she is a lady or of a particular race, Singapore needs someone who will lead us forward as one."

Nomination proceedings went smoothly, except for some drama when Mr Ooi Boon Ewe - infamous for previous attempts at becoming a presidential candidate - made a last-minute bid to contest this year's election.

The 76-year-old turned up at the nomination centre and started shouting, protesting that he wanted to submit his forms. He was eventually escorted out by security and nomination centre staff.

It did little to dampen the spirit of the new president-elect's supporters, such as a school administrator who wanted to be known only as Madam Lim. The 50-year-old had taken the morning off to lend "moral support".

She said: "Why not give her a try? She is hardworking and capable of handling Singapore's economy."

presidentpoliticsHalimah Yacob