Commitment to serve remains the same with or without election, says Halimah Yacob

Madam Halimah Yacob talks to the media outside the Elections Department on Sept 11, 2017. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Madam Halimah Yacob emerges from the Elections Department on Sept 11, 2017. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Madam Halimah Yacob and her supporters arrive at the Elections Department. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

SINGAPORE - Madam Halimah Yacob, who is set to become Singapore's next President, called on all Singaporeans to work with her for a "much stronger Singapore".

At her first press conference after being declared the only candidate eligible to run in this month's presidential election, she said: "Whether there is an election or no election, my passion and commitment to serve the people of Singapore remains the same."

Madam Halimah was asked whether she would be worried about public perception if she won in a walkover.

The 63-year-old former Speaker of Parliament is the only presidential hopeful to be issued a Certificate of Eligibility by the Presidential Elections Committee, in the first presidential election reserved for candidates from the Malay community.

Marine services firm chairman Farid Khan, 61, and property company chief executive Salleh Marican, 67, have been informed they did not qualify to contest the election.

This means Madam Halimah will be declared the country's eighth President shortly after nominations close at noon on Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters at the Election Department on Monday, she said one of the main tasks of the President is to be a symbol of unity.

"This is a journey we must take together and I want to invite all Singaporeans to come together, to work with me... to build a stronger Singapore, a better Singapore for future generations."

This year's presidential election is reserved for candidates from the Malay community following changes to the Constitution to ensure that the highest office in the land is reflective of Singapore's multiracial make-up.

Asked what the reserved election means for the Malay community, Madam Halimah declined to comment, saying that the reasons have been debated quite extensively.

She added: "The process may be a reserved election, but the President is for everyone, for all communities, regardless of race or religion. I think that is a very important point. The President, once elected, represents all races, all religions, all communities in Singapore."

The Presidential Elections Committee announced its decision on Monday (Sept 11).

Madam Halimah said the certificate of eligibility paves the way for her to take part in the presidential elections.

"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 nominations.

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

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