Security stepped up at President-elect Halimah’s Yishun housing block

Security stepped up at President-elect Halimah’s Yishun housing block
HDB Flats in Yishun. TODAY file photo
Published: 6:56 PM, September 13, 2017
Updated: 3:47 PM, September 14, 2017

SINGAPORE — Security measures have been stepped up around Madam Halimah Yacob's public housing block at Yishun Avenue 4 on Wednesday (Sept 13), as she prepares to be sworn in as Singapore's eighth President on Thursday.

When TODAY visited her home Wednesday evening, two police officers were seen stationed outside.

One of them was sitting at the lift lobby, while the other stood guard outside her flat.

On top of that, two parking lots near the lift landing have also been reserved for police vehicles. A red sign was put up to indicate this.

Neighbours told TODAY that these changes took place hours after Mdm Halimah was declared President-elect Wednesday.

Mr Tan Kim Boon, a 56-year-old technician who lives just a couple of doors down from Mdm Halimah's corner unit, said: "It was surprising at first to see officers at the lift lobby when I stepped out of the lift. I thought something happened. But we found out that the officers are there to protect her. I think the residents understand. The security measures don't really inconvenience us."

Another resident, Mr Lim Eng Seng, a 57-year-old safety officer who lives one floor above her unit, said: "When I left the house in the morning, they hadn't marked the parking lots yet. I saw it when I came back from work. I've been living here for so long and it's a safe neighbourhood, but I understand why she needs extra security. The measures also don't inconvenience us, so we have nothing to complain about."

Mr Lim added: "If she wants to continue living here, good for her. The neighbours don't disturb her anyway."

After she was declared President-elect Wednesday, Mdm Halimah had reiterated to reporters that she would like to continue living in her Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat.

Traditionally, the Istana serves as the official presidential residence and office. But no President since the late Yusof Ishak has resided there.

When asked if there could be security concerns with such an arrangement, Mdm Halimah said that she would leave such issues to those in charge.

"I think they know how to secure the area," she said.

Mdm Halimah added Wednesday that living at the HDB block helped her to stay fit as she would try to take the stairs when possible.

In an earlier version of this story, we wrote that Mdm Halimah's wish to continue living in her HDB flat would be "a break from tradition where the head of state would reside at the Istana". This is incorrect. While the Istana serves as the official presidential residence and office, none since the late Yusof Ishak has lived there.