Singapore

ESM Goh: Election process controversial but Halimah isn't

While there have been some rumblings over the process through which Madam Halimah Yacob became the president, Singaporeans should unite and rally behind her now that she is, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said yesterday.

In a Facebook post, ESM Goh addressed the unhappiness that has been brewing online over the election, saying that while the election process was "highly controversial", Madam Halimah was not a controversial figure.

"Halimah did not dream of being a President but will serve with full heart now that she is. The focus so far has been on process, but we should not let whatever unhappiness weigh down her duties," said ESM Goh.

"We expect our head of state to be a unifying figure, but we must also do our part to help the President succeed."

Madam Halimah was declared elected unopposed in the first presidential election reserved for the Malay community. Her two rivals, businessmen Salleh Marican and Farid Khan, were disqualified from contesting as they did not meet the threshold for candidates from the private sector.

Madam Halimah has promised to be a president for all Singaporeans.

ESM Goh, who was prime minister when Madam Halimah quit NTUC to join politics in 2001, said he had persuaded her to leave the labour movement so she could serve all Singaporeans. He said he had tracked her performance over the years.

Madam Halimah also chaired the PAP Seniors Group committee, where he had personally observed her sincerity to help the elderly.

ESM Goh said: "Her motivation, dedication and desire to serve and help others are not skin-deep.

"I have no doubt that she will gain the respect and support of the people as a humble, down-to-earth and sincere President with a big heart for all, regardless of status, wealth, abilities, race or religion."

Halimah YacobpresidentGoh Chok Tong