Halimah vows to do her best for Singapore

Madam Halimah Yacob (centre) steps out of the Elections Department after collecting her papers, on Sept 11, 2017. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Madam Halimah Yacob, set to become Singapore's next president after she was declared the only eligible candidate, yesterday assured Singaporeans that being elected in a walkover will not lessen her commitment to serving them.

"I promise to do the best that I can to serve the people of Singapore, and that doesn't change whether there is an election or no election," she told reporters after collecting her certificate of eligibility from the Elections Department. "My passion and commitment to serve the people of Singapore remain the same."

Since announcing her presidential bid last month, the 63-year-old has been dogged by questions on her perceived legitimacy in the event of a walkover, particularly as only candidates from the Malay community can stand in this year's presidential election.

The reserved election for the presidency, following changes to the Constitution last year to ensure the highest office in the land is reflective of Singapore's multiracial society, continues to spark controversy.

Asked how she plans to unite the nation, Madam Halimah said: "I would like to encourage Singaporeans to work together with me so that we can work together for a united Singapore and a much stronger Singapore. This is a journey that we must take together."

She was flanked by six key supporters, including National Trades Union Congress president Mary Liew, and was wearing an orange tudung - a colour she has been wearing in recent weeks, chosen for her campaign as it represents unity.

Asked what the reserved election means for the Malay community, Madam Halimah said the reasons have been debated extensively, adding: "The process may be a reserved election, but the president is for everyone, for all communities - regardless of race and religion."

The former Speaker, who resigned to stand for president, has long been seen as the front runner in the race, being the only hopeful to automatically qualify as she has spent at least three years in a key public office.

Tomorrow, Madam Halimah will have to turn up with a proposer, seconder and at least four assentors at the People's Association headquarters to file her nomination papers between 11am and noon.

Shortly after nominations close, she will be declared president- elect, and will take her oath of office the following day.

"I will now focus on preparing for the nomination on the 13th, and that will require some work as well," she said, adding that she would hold a press conference after submitting her nomination papers.

"I have met many Singaporeans in the past couple of weeks, and I feel grateful for the support and encouragement," she added.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2017, with the headline Halimah vows to do her best for Singapore. Subscribe