All smiles as presidential hopefuls meet at event

Madam Halimah Yacob and Mr Mohamed Salleh Marican exchanging a handshake at the launch of Singapore's first milk bank yesterday. With them are Temasek Foundation Cares chairman Richard Magnus (far left) and KKH chief executive Alex Sia.
Madam Halimah Yacob and Mr Mohamed Salleh Marican exchanging a handshake at the launch of Singapore's first milk bank yesterday. With them are Temasek Foundation Cares chairman Richard Magnus (far left) and KKH chief executive Alex Sia.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Two aspiring candidates for the upcoming presidential election had beaming smiles as they greeted each other at the launch of Singapore's first milk bank yesterday.

Madam Halimah Yacob and Mr Mohamed Salleh Marican shook hands and exchanged a few words.

The milk bank was set up by KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) and funded by philanthropic organisation Temasek Foundation Cares.

Madam Halimah was invited to the launch event as guest of honour when she was Speaker of Parliament - a post she resigned from on Aug 7 to contest the upcoming presidential election.

Mr Salleh is on the foundation's board of directors, as its treasurer.

He told reporters he is planning to submit eligibility forms to the Elections Department a week from today. Until then, he has several interviews lined up and is getting mentally prepared.

"Preparing my mind is very important," he said.

Madam Halimah declined to take questions on next month's election, which is reserved for Malay candidates to ensure the office reflects Singapore's multiracial society.

She commended KKH for its decision to set up the milk bank for premature and sick babies whose mothers are unable to provide the milk they need. Unlike formula milk, breast milk is more easily digested by such infants and contains antibodies that can help boost their immune systems.

"As a mother of five and one who breastfed all my babies, I understand the nutritional importance of breast milk for children," she said.

"However, there are some new mothers who face challenges in producing milk," she added. "For mothers of preterm babies, the inability to provide a basic need for their child is an added concern."

Mr Salleh said the project was met with unanimous approval by the foundation's board. "All of us felt very strongly that this is very important. Many countries have already (set up such milk banks). But better late than never."

Linette Lai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 18, 2017, with the headline 'All smiles as presidential hopefuls meet at event'. Print Edition | Subscribe