Halimah Yacob still considering whether to run for president

ST VIDEO: CHARISSA YONG

SINGAPORE - Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob on Saturday (July 29) weighed in on the debate about whether she is qualified to run as a Malay candidate in the upcoming presidential election reserved for Malays.

She pointed out that she had been certified as a member of the Malay community four times in the past general elections: in 2015, 2011, 2006 and 2001.

But Madam Halimah said that she is still mulling over whether to run in September's presidential election, which she first told reporters two weeks ago.

The Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC MP will have to resign as Speaker, and from the People's Action Party, to run.

The election will be the first reserved for Malay candidates following changes Parliament passed last November to ensure multiracialism of the office, and to tighten standards for candidates.

But a debate has since swirled around whether the hopefuls who have put their name up for election are "Malay enough".

Online critics have said Madam Halimah, whose father was Indian-Muslim and mother was Malay, should be considered an Indian.

They also took aim at how Second Chance Properties chief executive Salleh Marican, who also has Indian heritage, struggled to speak in Malay, and at the Pakistani heritage of marine company chairman Farid Khan.

Mr Salleh has said he is taking Malay lessons. Mr Farid said that though his identity card indicates his race as Pakistani, he and his family practise Malay culture and speak Malay, and so he is part of the Malay community.

Madam Halimah was interviewed by reporters after an inter-faith post-Hari Raya celebration organised by the Singapore Muslim Women's Association.