Halimah Yacob, sole eligible person in race to Istana, promises to do her best to unite S'poreans

She says election or no election, her passion and commitment to serve remains the same.

Chan Cheow Pong| September 11, 07:51 PM

Unemployed woman Former Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob is set to become the first-ever female, and also first Malay President in 47 years after she was issued the only Certificate of Eligibility on Monday, Sept. 11, for the inaugural reserved Presidential Election. 

Just before 6pm on Monday, she turned up with an entourage to collect her golden ticket the Certificate of Eligibility, as well as the Community Certificate that confirms she is from the Malay community, at the Elections Department (ELD) to prepare for her formal nomination on Wednesday, Sept. 13.

Photo by Fasiha Nazren

She was greeted by a crowd of more than 20 reporters from various media, who were camped outside the ELD at Prinsep Link, waiting to hear her response to the walkover that will see her starting work at the Istana as early as on Thursday, Sept. 14.

Speaking to the media for a three-minute doorstop interview after stepping out of the building, she spoke in a bid to reach out to all Singaporeans.

Perhaps conscious of what appears to be overwhelmingly negative public reaction and sentiment, she also pledged to be the unifying figure that will bring together all Singaporeans.

"Obviously there's work that I have to do. But the most important thing is that 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 we must take together. And I want to invite all Singaporeans to come together with me,to build a stronger Singapore, a better Singapore for future generations."

She was keen to avoid questions on the dividing views over the reserved election, too, choosing only to say:

"I am not going to go through that again but once elected, the process may be a reserved election but the president is for everyone, for all communities, regardless of race and religion. And I think that is a very important point."

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Here's the full transcript of Halimah's doorstop outside the Election Department below:

The Elections Department has issued the Certificate of Eligibility to me. This paves the way for me to take part in the Presidential Elections. I want to thank the Elections department for their hard work processing our applications and also the further clarifications that they had required from me.

Well, now I will focus on preparing for Nomination on the 13th, that requires some work as well.

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

Q: Are you worried about public perception, now that there isn't an election so to speak.

Well, you know, I can only say that I promise to do the best to serve the people of Singapore. And that doesn't change whether there is an election or no election, my passion and commitment to serve the people of Singapore remains the same. I remain fully committed to serve Singaporeans and Singapore.

Q: Given that there are many dividing views regarding the reserved election, how do you plan to unite the nation given your coming role as the President?

One of the main focus and function of the elected president is to act as the unifying force. Obviously there's work that I have to do. But the most important thing is that 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 we must take together. And I want to invite all Singaporeans to come together with me,to build a stronger Singapore, a better Singapore for future generations.

Q: We understand that you are going to be a President for all Singaporeans. What does the reserved election mean for the Malay Community?

Well, I think the reasons for the reserved election has already been elaborated quite extensively, and debated quite extensively. I am not going to go through that again but once elected, the process may be a reserved election but the president is for everyone, for all communities, regardless of race and religion. And I think that is a very important point.  The President once elected represents all races, all religions and all communities in Singapore.

Q: Madam, will you push for a referendum to get the moral authority to stand up against the government?

Well, I think I have covered all the questions you have asked pertinent to this. Please remember I have not submitted my nominations, my nominations on Wednesday, to take part in the election. After the nomination has been submitted, there will be a press conference and I will answer your questions further.

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Top photo by Fasiha Nazren