‘Let’s work on country’s challenges together’: Halimah

‘Let’s work on country’s challenges together’: Halimah
Singapore's President-elect Halimah Yacob leaves the nomination centre in Singapore. Photo: Reuters
Published: 4:00 AM, September 14, 2017

SINGAPORE — Amid criticism over the legitimacy of her Presidency, President-elect Halimah Yacob made a call for Singaporeans to work with her to address the country’s challenges and promised to serve everyone with vigour and commitment.

Criticism of the reserved election and walkover have mounted following Monday’s announcement that Mdm Halimah, the 63-year-old former Speaker of Parliament, was the sole eligible candidate.

Many Singaporeans took to using #NotMyPresident in their social media posts, a hashtag that first gained popularity among those rallying against Mr Donald Trump after he won the United States’ presidential election last year.

Mdm Halimah’s supporters note that she is qualified for the role and point to her track record of over 40 years in public service.

Asked yesterday about the backlash, Mdm Halimah said: “Whether there’s an election or no election, my promise is really 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 with for the last four decades.”

She called on Singaporeans to tackle the country’s challenges, both domestic and international, together.

“Those should be our priorities and we need to work together. This is not something that only one person or several persons can do, but everyone has a role to play,” she said.

On Monday, the Elections Department announced that Second Chance Properties chief executive Mohamed Salleh Marican, 67, and chairman of Bourbon Offshore Asia Pacific Farid Khan Kaim Khan, 62, were ineligible to contest.

Prior to that, Mdm Halimah’s critics questioned her relative lack of financial acumen and her independence, given long-standing and close ties to the ruling People’s Action Party.

The “Malayness” of all three hopefuls also came under scrutiny.

Asked if she felt demoralised by the criticism, Mdm Halimah said: “When you’re in public service, you focus on your goals, your objectives. And you focus on the people you 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.”