The man behind her successful career

Madam Halimah Yacob and her husband Mr Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee waving to her supporters after delivering her speech at the People's Association HQ in King George's Avenue.
Madam Halimah Yacob and her husband Mr Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee waving to her supporters after delivering her speech at the People's Association HQ in King George's Avenue.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

The popular adage that behind a successful man is a woman is also true the other way around for Singapore's first woman president.

Madam Halimah Yacob's husband, retired businessman Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee, 63, has provided the support she needed to pursue her career.

He would help look after and play with their five children when they were young, shop for groceries and take care of household matters like paying the bills.

Since she announced her presidential bid last month, he has also been her ever-present companion at public events. Today, he will be the first man to become a presidential spouse in Singapore.

Madam Halimah and Mr Mohamed met as undergraduates at the University of Singapore, the predecessor of the National University of Singapore.

They were in different faculties - she in law and he in science - but encountered each other at activities organised by the Muslim Society and at the canteen in the student union house.

"There is a canteen there, you are bound to bump into each other," Madam Halimah had said in an interview last month.

"Of course, he pursued me!"

Although Mr Mohamed was playing the guitar and the drums in a band then, he never invited Madam Halimah to listen to him play and she also never went on her own volition.

But these days, he sings to her new songs that he has learnt.

The couple have five children, two sons and three daughters, between the ages of 26 and 36. Some accompanied their mother to the nomination centre yesterday, but did not talk to the media.

Mr Mohamed, who was described as media-shy by Madam Halimah, has so far not said much to the media.

But when asked yesterday if he was proud of his wife becoming the president, he said with a grin: "Of course!"

Tham Yuen-C

 

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2017, with the headline 'The man behind her successful career'. Print Edition | Subscribe