Halimah Yacob declared president-elect: Transcript of acceptance speech

Singapore's president-elect Madam Halimah Yacob waving to supporters after her speech at the People's Association HQ.
Singapore's president-elect Madam Halimah Yacob waving to supporters after her speech at the People's Association HQ.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Madam Halimah Yacob delivering her acceptance speech on Sept 13, 2017.
Madam Halimah Yacob delivering her acceptance speech on Sept 13, 2017.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Madam Halimah Yacob was declared Singapore's president-elect on Wednesday (Sept 13). Here's the transcript of her acceptance speech in English:

Good afternoon.

First of all, I would like to thank all my supporters who are present here today. I really feel very appreciated and I am deeply grateful to all of you for your presence here today. Members of the trade unions, community groups, religious groups and also members of the public.

I know that you have been waiting here for a few hours and it's really hot, under the hot sun so (laughs) thank you.

I'm really very grateful to you because you've taken time off from your work and really made the effort to come here all the way. I'm really grateful.

Let me first of all say that I want to, from the bottom of my heart, to say a very big thank you to all Singaporeans for your support, your encouragement and your well wishes.

Over the last two weeks I've been walking the ground very extensively, I've met many Singaporeans from all backgrounds, young, old, in many many places and I've spoken to them, and I'm so heartened. I'm really very grateful for their well wishes, their encouragement and their support.

Many of you not only gave words of encouragement and support, many of you came to pat me on the back. Many of you also hugged me. And many of you told me that you would support me even without my asking or saying anything. That tremendously warmed my heart and that also made my journey here to the nomination centre all the more pleasant, warm, and most encouraging. So once again, thank you to all Singaporeans. Thank you Singaporeans.

I feel really very blessed as I start my journey.

I know that some have some doubts of the reserved election. And I want to tell you as your president-elect: I promise to work with everyone. I am president for everyone, and I intend to serve all without hesitation or doubt.

I also want to tell you that although this is an reserved election, I am not a reserved president. I'm a president for everyone, regardless of race, language, religion or creed. I represent everyone. My duty remains only to Singapore and Singaporeans. My duty remains only to you. Although there is no election, my commitment to serve you remains the same. There is no diminution even one bit of my desire to serve you.

In fact, my resolve to work hard, to work tirelessly and with great sincerity is even greater. These are values which I hold very dear to me when I perform my public duties, my public service, and it means even greater to me now that I have become your president-elect.

I also stand before you as a second Malay President in the 47 years of our history. I believe that this is a proud moment for Singapore. This is a proud moment for multiculturalism, multiracialism for our society. This shows that multiracialism is not just a slogan, something that is good for us to say, something for people to hear, but it means that it really works for our society, that everyone has a chance to reach the highest office of the land. This is not just good for now, but also good for generations to come because it shows very positively how Singapore practises multiracialism.

I also stand before you as the first female president of Singapore. I can see that many of our sisters here are delighted. And I delight with you. Because it shows that this is not just tokenism, that when we talk about gender diversity, we are not just chanting slogans again, but we really mean it. Every woman - every woman can aspire to the highest office of the land, if you have the courage, the determination and the will to work hard.

Dear Singaporeans, we have a lot of work to do together. We know, and many of you here who are workers you know - we have both internal challenges and external challenges that we need to overcome. I ask you now, dear Singaporeans, that the election is over, to stand together so we can focus on our core priorities to ensure that Singapore remains a great home for everyone.

Dear Singaporeans, no one person or persons can achieve this task. We need every Singaporean to stand together shoulder-to-shoulder to achieve for ourselves the best that we can be. We have not reached the peak yet. You think we have reached the peak? We have not reached the peak yet. The best is yet to come. But the best can only be achieved if we work together so that we can go on improving our lives and that of our children.

I ask that you focus on the similarities we have and not on our differences.

In 1965, when we became independent, no one thought that we could survive. But look at us today. We are Singaporeans, we are in a country that we are really proud of. We have come a long way, but we have an equally long way ahead of us.

No one owes us a living. We owe it to ourselves to build a great nation that we can all be proud of and we can hand over to our children and grandchildren with great pride. We must stay united. We must beat with one heart. We must move in one direction.

I am deeply humbled to be given this opportunity to serve all of you. I look forward to working very closely with you and I believe we can do good together and I invite you to do good together with me. Thank you very much.