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President Halimah Yacob to move out of Yishun HDB flat due to security 'challenges'

SINGAPORE – President Halimah Yacob will soon move out of the jumbo Yishun flat where she and her family have stayed for over two decades, due to challenges in ensuring her security and protection.

President Halimah Yacob to move out of Yishun HDB flat due to security 'challenges'

President-elect Halimah Yacob's block in Yishun. TODAY file photo

SINGAPORE – President Halimah Yacob will soon move out of the jumbo Yishun flat where she and her family have stayed for over two decades, due to challenges in ensuring her security and protection.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in a statement on Monday (Oct 2) that it had conducted an assessment after Madam Halimah expressed a wish to continue living in her family's Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat, which is made up of two adjacent four-room and five-room flats bought on the resale market.  

But the security agencies found "several challenges" in ensuring the President's security in her current home, the ministry added without giving details.

"MHA has therefore strongly advised the President to consider moving to another place. This will enable the agencies to ensure her safety and security with greater assurance," said the MHA.

"President has accepted MHA’s security recommendation. She will make arrangements to move to a new place soon.”

The ministry gave no indication as to where Mdm Halimah and her family would move to, or when they might vacate their Yishun home.  

 

She had expressed her desire, on several previous occasions, to continue living in her HDB flat, saying that “it is a very nice, comfortable place”. Mdm Halimah’s husband, Mr Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee, a retired businessman, had described their flat “as huge as a penthouse”.

In a Facebook post on Monday evening, Mdm Halimah wrote: "Thank you for everyone's concern with regard to my residential arrangements. MHA has just issued a statement about the security challenges they face if I continue to stay in my current home. Therefore, as much as I would like to continue living in my current home in Yishun, I have accepted MHA's recommendation and will make arrangements to move to a new place soon."

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

Security measures have been stepped up around the 12-storey block where Mdm Halimah lives since she was elected President last month. Residents said they have noticed more policemen on patrol, including at the void deck and lift lobby on the floor where Mdm Halimah resides.

Specially-marked car park lots reserved for police vehicles have also been painted, and an awning erected over them. An entourage of personnel and vehicles follow Mdm Halimah whenever she leaves or returns home.

But the additional security measures have prompted some criticism about the costs and possible inconvenience caused to her neighbours. However, neighbours whom TODAY had spoken to previously insisted that they were not bothered by the security arrangements, and that their lives had not been affected.

Some residents like Mr Boo Mee Kwok, 36, said half in jest that they welcomed the additional security as it made them feel safer.

Next-door neighbour Madam Chris Toh, 50, said she is sad that Mdm Halimah will be moving out and that residents will definitely miss her presence because she is “so friendly”.

She added: “Mdm Halimah will never fail to smile at her neighbours and will strike up a conversation with us. I just heard the news and I’m starting to miss her already. I have a feeling she won’t return to her Yishun flat anymore.”

Administration executive Madam Beh Zoo Kee, 45, who lives on the 12th floor, said that as she now sees Mdm Halimah less often after she became President, it would not make “much of a difference whether she moves out”.

Some property agents have also tried to capitalise on the keen public interest in Mdm Halimah’s residence to help market some of the apartments in the same HDB block that have been listed for sale.

One listing, for instance, was titled “Yistana for sale” in reference to the combination of words Yishun and Istana. However, such actions have drawn flak from some industry players who described the move as less-than-professional and “disrespectful”. - Additional reporting by Nuria Ling.

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