A day after announcing her presidential bid, Madam Halimah Yacob resigned from her political and party posts yesterday, paving the way for her nomination in next month's election.
Her resignation as MP of Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC and member of the People's Action Party (PAP) was accepted by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who said she would bring warmth and dignity to the highest office in the land if elected.
Her move also prompted by-election calls from the Singapore Democratic Party and Reform Party.
While the GRC may not get a new MP - there is no legal requirement for a by-election when an MP leaves a GRC, even a minority MP - it will get a new grassroots adviser.
PM Lee, who is PAP's chief, said he will appoint an adviser to the ward and appoint replacements soon to the posts vacated by Madam Halimah.
The 62-year-old had also stepped down as Speaker of Parliament. The Prime Minister's Office said Deputy Speaker Charles Chong will be Acting Speaker until PM Lee nominates a person for the post when Parliament next meets.
Her resignation is necessary for contesting in next month's presidential election, which is reserved for Malay candidates to ensure the presidency reflects Singapore's multiracial society.
In a letter to PM Lee, Madam Halimah said she decided to run after careful consideration, adding she was grateful for the encouragement of friends, colleagues, family members and ordinary citizens.
Having been in the labour movement for about 40 years and in politics for 16 years, she said she would miss her residents, her constituency work in Marsiling and her role as Speaker.
But, she added: "In running for the office of the elected president, my passion and desire to serve the people continues. It is a heavy responsibility, but I hope that with the support of Singaporeans, we can do more good together."
Responding, PM Lee wrote to her saying he had no doubt she would play the role of president well. "I am confident that if elected, you... will bring dignity and personal warmth, experience of government and concern for the people to the highest office in the land."
He thanked her for her contributions as labour leader, MP, minister of state and Speaker, and praised her for being sincere, hard-working and even-handed. He held her up as an MP who spoke from her conscience, and an office-holder with an independent view. She was not afraid to argue her case, often causing the Government to rethink its position, he said.
When Madam Halimah told him of her intention to run, he had asked her to consider it seriously. "Having worked with you for many years, I knew your passion to serve and your commitment to Singapore. Now that you have decided, I wish you all the best," he said.
Yesterday, the two men who plan to contest the election said they welcomed her candidacy and looked forward to a good contest. They are Bourbon Offshore Asia Pacific chairman Farid Khan, 62, and Second Chance Properties chief executive Mohamed Salleh Marican, 67.
PM Lee is expected to issue the Writ of Election late this month.