Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob (finally) confirms she will resign from posts & stand for President

She's throwing letter to PM Lee on Monday morning.

By Jeanette Tan | August 6, 2017

It’s finally happened, what we’ve all been waiting for: Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob has confirmed she will stand for the presidency at the upcoming election.

The 62-year-old announced this at an event with residents in her Marsiling ward under Marsiling-Yew Tee Group Representation Constituency (GRC) on Sunday evening, and said she had consulted extensively with numerous different parties over the past two weeks before coming to a decision.

Halimah is Singapore’s first female Speaker of Parliament, and has long been speculated as the establishment candidate-of-choice to stand for office this year, which will see a reserved election for members of the Malay community.

Besides being a long-serving MP, you can say she also has some experience acting as the President, as she stands in on the President’s behalf,  when he is on leave or travelling.

Despite having an Indian-Muslim father, Halimah is nonetheless likely to qualify as Malay, having been certified so four times previously when she stood for previous elections.

She said on Sunday evening that she will hand her letter of resignation from her posts both as Speaker of Parliament and as Member of Parliament for Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in accordance with the requirements of the Constitution.

Candidates who are running for the Elected President office have to be non-partisan and hence, cannot be a member of any political party.

Halimah therefore confirmed, when asked by media, that she will additionally be resigning from the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), although she did not say when she would be doing so.

She also added that she would ask PM Lee to consider appointing an advisor to assist her remaining three colleagues at Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC with her duties in Marsiling. She said there will be no disruption to services for her residents, adding that “at all times there will be a member of parliament” around to help them.

Here’s a transcript of what she said to media on Sunday evening:

“I have considered over the last two weeks, I have had extensive consultations, discussions with my family members, my close friends, my colleagues, grassroots leaders, key grassroots leaders, and I have made the decision to take part in the upcoming presidential elections. And as I mentioned to them, this is not an easy decision to make. I have spent two years of my life in Marsiling since the last General Election, helping to build up Marsiling, developing services, supporting the residents, and therefore I would like to make sure that before I make a decision to take part in the election, I should make sure that this part of my responsibility is well taken care of.

And also I have another responsibility and that is as the Speaker of Parliament. So having had extensive discussions and consultations, the post and its duties will be well taken care of.

I have then decided to make this announcement, that I will take part in the Presidential Election.

Tomorrow I will be handing, submitting my letter of resignation to the Prime Minister, that is required under the Constitution. I will be resigning as Speaker of Parliament as well as Member of Parliament for Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC.

As I said, uppermost in my mind is to ensure that my duties are well taken care of, particularly in the Marsiling division. I have discussed extensively with my three other colleagues, members of parliament of the GRC, and they have very, they have agreed that they will come to support the residents of Marsiling, and that at all times there will be three of them, and that at all times there will be a member of Parliament serving the residents of Marsiling division. So there will not be any disruption in terms of service to the residents; residents need not worry.

In addition in my letter tomorrow to the Prime Minister I will ask him to consider also sending an advisor to support the work of the three other GRC MPs in serving residents of Marsiling, and I have asked Prime Minister also to look at making quick replacements with regards to the appointments that I have.

I just want to say that I have been in public service for 40 years. And that is a very long period. It took me some time to think about serving, as taking part in the election. I see this as also a very important part of my public service, serving the people of Singapore, serving Singaporeans. The post of President is extremely very heavy, onerous responsibilities and it has to be very carefully considered.

I am also very grateful to my Marsiling residents; I have talked to many of them, walked the ground extensively, and many of them have come forward to give their well wishes. Of course they are sad, you know, because they’ve connected with me, engaged me for the last two years. They were sad, but at the same time many have also expressed their support, to say that if I were to stood for election they would support me.

So in a sense it’s a bit of a bittersweet period that I’m experiencing, but as I said, the satisfaction I have is also that I’ve done my best for two years to improve their lives and enhance the facilities in Marsiling. Thank you very much.”

You can watch the video, which includes questions she fielded from reporters, here:

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Top photo via Halimah Yacob’s Facebook page

About Jeanette Tan

Jeanette takes pride in her ability to sing the complete lyrics to Hakuna Matata and a host of other Disney songs. She holds out hope to someday be talent-spotted to do voice-overs for documentaries, lifts and automated telephone answering systems.

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