First female president? No comment for now, says Halimah Yacob

First female president? No comment for now, says Halimah Yacob

She has been touted as someone who could make history by becoming Singapore's first female president. But Madam Halimah Yacob, 62, simply laughed when the topic was brought up.

"I think it is still a long way off," she said, referring to the next presidential election (PE), which is expected to be held by next August. She is now focused on her two roles: Speaker of Parliament and Member of Parliament for Marsiling-Yew Tee.

The next PE will be reserved for Malay candidates - a mechanism triggered when a candidate of a certain race has not been a president for five consecutive terms. This has been criticised by some as tokenism. But Madam Halimah disagreed.

"When you say it is tokenism, it means that it is symbolic, it is perfunctory. The point is, all candidates, regardless of an open or reserved election, will have to qualify."

In a time when multi-racialism is being tested around the world, she urged sceptics to look at the changes in the context of preserving multi-racialism, one of Singapore's strengths.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said the Government has no specific candidate in mind. He told Malaysian news agency Bernama on Monday: "There is no shortlist. It depends who comes forward. It is not for the Government to arrange. It is for the candidates to come forward."

Madam Halimah ticks all the boxes of the eligibility criteria for public sector candidates.

Political pundits see her as the front runner partly due to her popularity on the ground.

She became the first Malay female MP in 2001, then minister of state in 2011. Two years later, she became the first female Speaker. As a veteran unionist, volunteer and politician, she won over many with her dedication to single mothers, low-income families, the elderly and the disabled.

But when asked if she has considered running in the PE, she said cautiously: "At this moment, I would not want to comment... To me, it doesn't matter what capacity you serve in.

"The most important thing is that you're serving from your heart, and that you're also serving the people and Singapore."



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