Halimah set to be President: ‘Let’s work together for a stronger Singapore’
Halimah Yacob set to be next president after being declared the only one eligible to stand for election
Poised to become Singapore's first woman president, Madam Halimah Yacob, 63, has promised to do her best and called for a "stronger Singapore".
The former Speaker of Parliament was the only candidate declared eligible to contest in the first presidential election (PE) reserved for those in the Malay community by the Presidential Elections Committee (PEC) yesterday.
She will still have to file her nomination papers tomorrow. If everything is in order, she will be declared president-elect soon after nominations close at noon.
Madam Halimah will then be sworn in and begin her term on Thursday as the country's eighth president and first Malay head of state in over 47 years.
After collecting her certificate of eligibility at the Elections Department (ELD), she told reporters: "Whether there is an election or no election, my passion and commitment to serve the people of Singapore remains the same. I remain fully committed to serve Singaporeans and Singapore."
The ELD had earlier said that only one individual had qualified for the PE. It said it would not name the unsuccessful applicants or the reasons.
The other two candidates who had received Malay Community Certificates later confirmed they had not qualified.
Their bids had been deemed uncertain because as private-sector candidates, neither fulfilled the condition of helming a company with $500 million in shareholder equity for the most recent three years, and needed the PEC to waive the condition to stand.
Mr Farid Khan, 62, chairman of marine services provider Bourbon Offshore Asia Pacific, accepted that contesting in this election was "not meant to be".
He said: "Although I am disappointed by the committee's decision, it will not stop me from continuing to serve the people."
Also expressing his disappointment, Second Chance Properties chief executive Mohamed Salleh Marican, 67, said: "But this doesn't mean my work to help my fellow Singaporeans comes to an end."
Singapore Management University law don Eugene Tan told The New Paper it was "no major surprise" that Madam Halimah was the only one who qualified.
"To be clear, the PEC's hands are tied. They cannot go about arbitrarily awarding eligibility certificates just because a contest is ideal," he added.
"But it does bring the whole electoral process to an anti-climactic and premature end.
"The election could have provided a wonderful opportunity for Singaporeans to better understand the reserved election mechanism and to exercise their democratic choice."
Asked about the public perception of an uncontested election, Prof Tan said if and when Madam Halimah becomes president, she will have to carry the "burden of doubt over her perceived lack of legitimacy".
"My view is that she has every legitimacy, but there are comments online that question it. It's unfortunate that it has turned out this way," he said.
"But I am confident that in her term, she will prove her doubters wrong."
When asked about how she plans to unite the nation given the various opinions surrounding the reserved election, a smiling Madam Halimah said: "This is a journey that we must take together, and I want to invite all Singaporeans to come together and work with me to build a stronger Singapore, a better Singapore for future generations."
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