Singapore

Halimah declared President-elect in walkover victory

Singapore's first female head of state will remain in her Yishun family home instead of moving to the Istana

For President-elect Halimah Yacob, home is where the heartland is.

Set to make history today when she is sworn in as Singapore's first female president, she will continue to live in her Housing Board flat in Yishun.

After she was declared the winner in yesterday's presidential election walkover, Madam Halimah, 63, told the media that she plans to remain in her family home instead of relocating to the Istana, the official residence and office of the president.

"It is a very nice, comfortable place," she said of her home of 30 years, with a smile.

Asked about security arrangements, Madam Halimah said: "I will leave it to the security department. I think they know how to secure the area."

As Speaker of Parliament, a role she gave up to run for president in this election reserved for Malay candidates, she already had some security arrangements at her jumbo flat, which comprises two units ­- a four-roomer and a five-roomer.

Madam Halimah and her 63-year-old husbandhave two sons and three daughters, aged 26 to 35.

Mr Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee was at his wife's side yesterday at the nomination centre at People's Association HQ at Jalan Besar.

He said there was no need to move as their home is "as huge as a penthouse".

Halimah, our 'heartland' President
President-elect Halimah Yacob and her husband, Mr Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee, leaving their Yishun block. PHOTO: THE STRAITS TIMES

Madam Halimah said she liked living in their sixth-storey home as it also keeps her healthy because she uses the stairs as much as possible.Replying to a question, she said: "The status of my health is very good. Every morning I exercise for at least 45 minutes." She said she would get plenty of exercise at the Istana as well.

"I think the Istana grounds are big, so that gives me a chance to walk around and exercise further and keep myself fit."

Earlier, Madam Halimah was declared the President-elect by returning officer Ng Wai Choong after she was confirmed as the sole eligible candidate.

Two candidates from the private sector had earlier been deemed ineligible to run for office after failing to meet one of the criteria.

Calling it a "proud moment for Singapore", she said in a speech that her victory embodied racial and religious harmony as well as gender diversity.

Recognising doubts among some people about an election reserved for Malay candidates, Madam Halimah told the 700-strong crowd that this did not diminish her ability to serve.

"Although this is a reserved election, I am not a reserved president," she said.

"I am a president for everyone, and I intend to serve all without any hesitation or doubt."

Later, when speaking to reporters, Madam Halimah referred to online chatter about the alleged "illegitimacy" of her presidency and the hashtag #notmypresident, and reiterated that her focus remains on serving the people.

She said: "Whether there is an election or no election, my promise is to serve everyone.

"I will serve with great vigour, with a lot of hard work, with the same passion and commitment that I have served people for the last four decades.

"I want to invite Singaporeans to focus on our priorities."

Madam Halimah ended her speech by asking Singaporeans to band together and face future obstacles as a united nation.

"I ask you, dear Singaporeans, now that the election is over, to stand together so we can focus on our core priorities to ensure that Singapore remains a great home for everyone," she said.

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