PM Lee confident Halimah will fulfil role with distinction

Madam Halimah Yacob greeting her supporters.
Madam Halimah Yacob greeting her supporters. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he is confident that Madam Halimah Yacob, who will be inaugurated today as Singapore's eighth president, will fulfil her role with distinction.

"I hope all of us will support her as our next president," he said in a Facebook post yesterday, three hours after Madam Halimah was declared President-elect.

"I look forward to working with her to serve Singaporeans and the nation."

PM Lee said he had called Madam Halimah to congratulate her, and cited her record of serving the public as a unionist, community leader, MP, minister of state and Speaker of Parliament.

"She will bring to the presidency her long experience working with Singaporeans from all walks of life, and championing workers and disadvantaged groups," he said.

It has been a whirlwind month for Madam Halimah, a long-time public servant who resigned from her political posts last month to contest the presidential election.

She has, in the week since announcing her bid, been preparing for her campaign and assembling a team. On Monday, she was the only presidential hopeful declared eligible to contest the reserved presidential election by the Presidential Elections Committee.

Yesterday, Mr Lee said: "The president is the apex of our political system and the symbol of our multiracial, multi-religious nation. I am confident that Madam Halimah will fulfil her role with distinction."

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam also took to Facebook with fond words for Madam Halimah, his former teammate in Jurong GRC.

Madam Halimah was an MP in the constituency for 15 years, before moving to Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC for the 2015 General Election.

Working with her in Jurong was a privilege, said Mr Tharman, who noted that she was a source of strength to the people around her.

"What I have always liked about Madam Halimah is her uprightness and sheer human decency.

"She takes a genuine and personal interest in people, especially when things go wrong for them, and works to put things right. No matter who they are," he said.

And her life - "her determination to rise from a very humble start, working hard to achieve her aspirations and always wanting to do good for others" - inspires, added Mr Tharman. "It is the Singapore story, and what it must always be."

Added Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim: "There has been much discussion about the elected presidency. Now it is time for us put aside our differences, rally behind President-elect Halimah as she embarks on the important task of building a stronger Singapore."

Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2017, with the headline 'PM Lee confident Halimah will fulfil role with distinction'. Print Edition | Subscribe