SINGAPORE: Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob (pic) has announced that she is considering standing in the coming presidential election in September.
This is the strongest indication yet of her intention to run, and follows months of speculation about her possible candidacy in the election reserved for Malay candidates.
“I am thinking about it, of running for the presidency,” she told reporters after a community event at her Marsiling ward. “The elected presidency is a very heavy responsibility and an important institution in Singapore, so it’s not something that one should take lightly ... so it needs a bit of time to think.”
Halimah, 62, said she has been asked the question “many, many times” by Singaporeans from all walks of life, and was honoured and humbled.
Although she has spoken to her family and colleagues about the prospect, she added, she wanted to consult them further.
“It’s not a question that you can just make a decision alone. I need to consult my family and colleagues who are supporting me in the various duties that I am doing,” she said.
She also said that for now, she still had to fulfil her duties as Speaker of Parliament and MP: “These duties are also very dear and important to me.”
Until yesterday, she had refused to address the persistent talk that she will run, deftly deflecting questions by reporters without confirming or denying the rumours.
Her name had come up as she ticks all the boxes of the eligibility criteria for those from the public sector, having spent at least three years in a key public office.
Halimah, a unionist-turned-politician, has been Speaker of Parliament since Jan 14, 2013.
As part of her role, she is required to assume the duties of the President should both the President and the chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers be away.
The popular Halimah, who made her remarks after officially opening an orchid garden and an edible garden at her constituency, said she was “not really announcing” a presidential bid.
Asked why she decided to address the topic now, she said: “A lot of Singaporeans have asked me so that’s why I want to share with you the thought processes that I go through ... before making the final decision.”
She added that she was guided by an important principle that she has adhered to in 40 years of public service: “I feel that in whatever capacity that we serve, it is important that we serve Singapore and we serve Singaporeans.”
Singapore has not had a Malay president since Yusof Ishak, the country’s first president, died in office in 1970. — The Straits Times/Asia News Network