Singapore

In full: President-elect Halimah Yacob's acceptance speech and QnA with the media

In full: President-elect Halimah Yacob's acceptance speech and QnA with the media
President-elect Halimah Yacob speaking to supporters at the Nomination Centre on Sept 13 2017. Photo: Jason Quah/TODAY
Published: 3:21 PM, September 13, 2017
Updated: 6:48 PM, September 13, 2017

Madam Halimah Yacob has been officially declared Singapore's eighth President. In a speech and subsequent question-and-answer session with the media, she addressed questions about her priorities going ahead and her views on the unhappiness surrounding this year's reserved election. Here are her comments in full:

ACCEPTANCE SPEECH 
"Thank you to all Singaporeans for your support. I feel really very blessed as I start my journey. I know that some have some doubts about the reserved election.

"I want to tell you that as your President-elect, I promise to work with everyone. I'm President for everyone and I intend to serve all without any hesitation or doubt. 

"I also want to tell you that although this is a reserved election, I'm not a 'reserved' President. I'm a President for everyone, regardless of race, language, religion or creed. 

"I represent everyone. My duty remains only to Singapore and Singaporeans. 

"Although there is no election, my commitment to serve you remains the same. There is no diminution even one bit of my desire, passion and commitment to serve you. 

"In fact, my resolve to work hard tirelessly and with great sincerity is even greater. These are values which I hold very dear to me when I perform my public duties and public service. It means even (more) to me now that I've become the President-elect. 

"I also stand before you as the second Malay President in 47 years of our history. I believe this is a very proud moment for Singapore. This is a proud moment for multiculturalism, multi-racialism in our society.

"This shows that multi-racialism is not just a slogan, something that is good for us to say, good to hear. But it means that it really works in our society. That every one has a chance to reach the highest office of the land.

"And this is not just good for now, but it's also good for generations to come because it shows very positively how Singapore practices multi-racialism . 

"I also stand before you as the first female President of Singapore. I can see many of our sisters here are delighted. And I delight with you. Because it shows that this is not just tokenism, that when we talk about gender diversity, we are just not chanting slogans again but we really mean it.

"Every woman can aspire to the highest office of the land if you have the courage, the determination and the will to work hard."

QUESTION-&-ANSWER SESSION WITH MEDIA

Q1: How do you feel right now? What will be your immediate priorities?

Mdm Halimah: I'm very glad that the nomination process went very smoothly and that we have completed it. The immediate priority is of course to start working. 

I intend to start work immediately and I've said that my campaign slogan was, I want to invite Singaporeans to do good, do it together. I think that's really very important because everyone has a role to play.

I am really really deeply heartened by the tremendous support from Singaporeans, many of whom came to wait for me at this nomination centre. They've been here for many hours and it was really hot as you can see but yet they waited. I feel so grateful to them. 

I've been walking the ground....and the support has been very encouraging. I feel very energized and motivated by the support and encouragement that they've given me. I will start working immediately. That's my promise and as I said, although this is a reserved election, I am not a reserved President. I'm a President for everyone - young, old, different races, different religion, all creed. This is very important to me.

Q2: There have been frustrations over the reserved election and the walkover, and there's the hashtag #notmypresident going around. How do you plan to unify Singaporeans?

Mdm Halimah: Whether there's an election or no election, my promise is to serve everyone. And 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. 

After this election, I want to invite Singaporeans to focus on our priorities. We have a lot of challenges, domestic and international. So those should be our priorities and we need to work together. 

Q3: What will be your central message in your swearing-in speech tomorrow?

Mdm Halimah: My central message will be to focus on the core values that are of immense importance to Singapore, and which have brought us to where we are today. The core values of multi-racialism and meritocracy. I will talk about these core values, which are dear to me.

Q4: Have you ever felt demoralised by the criticisms?

Mdm Halimah: You know, when you're in public service, you focus on your goals, your objectives. And you focus on the people you want to serve. That has always been my motto. I focus on people I want to serve. I focus on how to improve their lives, whether by introducing programmes or helping them, and that will continue to be my emphasis.

Q5: The job of the President can be challenging mentally and physically. What's the status of your health and how do you plan to keep fit?

Mdm Halimah: The status of my health is very good. Every morning, I exercise for 45 minutes... I live on the sixth floor, and when I come back from work, I'll climb up the six floors and if I have time I will climb down. The Istana grounds are very big, so that gives me the chance to walk around and exercise further to keep myself fit.