PM Lee congratulates Halimah on becoming president; thanks Farid and Salleh for stepping forward

Madam Halimah Yacob is set to be Singapore's first woman president.
Madam Halimah Yacob is set to be Singapore's first woman president.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has called Madam Halimah Yacob to congratulate her on becoming Singapore's eighth president.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday (Sept 13), three hours after Madam Halimah was declared president-elect, PM Lee cited her record of serving the public as a unionist, community leader, MP, minister of state, and Speaker of Parliament.

"She will bring to the Presidency her long experience working with Singaporeans from all walks of life, and championing workers and disadvantaged groups," said PM Lee.

"The President is the apex of our political system and the symbol of our multi-racial, multi-religious nation. I am confident that Madam Halimah will fulfil her role with distinction."

Madam Halimah will take her oath of office on Thursday, when she starts her six-year term as the country's first woman head of state.

The 63-year-old, who resigned from her political and party posts in August, was the only presidential hopeful declared eligible to contest in the reserved presidential election by the Presidential Elections Committee (PEC). She automatically made the cut, as she had spent more than three years as Speaker.

PM Lee, in his post, also thanked the two other hopefuls for offering themselves as candidates.

Marine services firm chairman Farid Khan, 61, and property company chief executive Salleh Marican, 67 - were informed by the PEC on Monday that they did not qualify to contest. Neither had helmed a company with $500 million in shareholder equity for the most recent three years, a key threshold required for candidates relying on their private-sector experience.

"It can't have been an easy decision for them and their families, knowing the media attention and public scrutiny this would attract. They respected the Constitution and conducted themselves with propriety and decorum. They did not confuse people with wild promises that exceeded the remit of the president, which had happened before," said Mr Lee.

"I thank them also for accepting the Presidential Elections Committee's decisions. This is the way to make our democratic processes work properly and in the interest of Singaporeans."

Mr Lee said of Madam Halimah: "I hope all of us will support her as our next president. I look forward to working with her to serve Singaporeans and the nation."