Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob to step down from post to contest presidential election

Madam Halimah Yacob, accompanied by her husband Mohammed Abdullah Alhabshee, speaking to the media after announcing her decision to run for president at the Marsiling National Day dinner yesterday.
Madam Halimah Yacob, accompanied by her husband Mohammed Abdullah Alhabshee, speaking to the media after announcing her decision to run for president at the Marsiling National Day dinner yesterday.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob will step down from her post to contest next month's presidential election, becoming the first woman to run for the highest office.

Announcing her decision to Marsiling residents and grassroots leaders at a National Day dinner last night, she noted that she had been in public service for 40 years.

"Taking part in the presidential election would allow me to continue with my service to the people of Singapore," she added to cheers and applause from residents.

The upcoming election is reserved for Malay candidates, following changes to the law last year to ensure the presidency reflects Singapore's multiracial society.

Madam Halimah, 62, will step down as Speaker, a post she has held since 2013, and as an MP for Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC today. She will also resign from the People's Action Party, where she is a member of the central executive committee.

This leaves the four-seat GRC short of an MP and without a minority MP. There is no requirement under the law to call a by-election if an MP resigns. Madam Halimah said she will ask Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to "ensure that there are proper replacements" for her various posts when she hands him her resignation letter today. She said she will ask him to assign another grassroots adviser to her constituency .

 
 
 
 

"My main concern has always been service to the residents of Marsiling, and I want to make really sure that that is not disrupted in any way," she said. "That is the reason why I have taken a bit of time to make a decision on this matter."

The GRC's three other MPs - National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, Mr Alex Yam and Mr Ong Teng Koon - who were also at the dinner, pledged to "build on the good work" that she has done.

"It was a tough decision to make," Madam Halimah, with her husband Mohammed Abdullah Alhabshee alongside her, told reporters.

"Though I will miss my residents, my constituency work and my role as Speaker... my passion to serve all Singaporeans remains unabated. It is a heavy responsibility, but I hope that with the support of Singaporeans, we can do more good together," she said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2017, with the headline 'Halimah will resign as Speaker and MP to run for president'. Print Edition | Subscribe