Overwhelmingly negative sentiment after decision on Halimah Yacob's presidential eligibility: report

Hannah Teoh
Senior Content Producer
Halimah Yacob is surrounded by supporters on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017, in Singapore. Yacob was named Singapore’s eighth president on Wednesday without a vote. She is to take office at a later date. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

Online sentiment on Singapore’s 2017 presidential election took a sharply negative turn after former speaker of parliament Halimah Yacob was declared the sole eligible candidate on Monday (11 September), according to a report by Marketing Interactive.

Prior to this week, sentiment was divided over the presidential election, said the magazine on Tuesday (12 September), citing data from global media monitoring house Meltwater. This year’s election is reserved for Malay candidates.

After Halimah was confirmed as the only candidate to have been issued the Certificate of Eligibility by the Presidential Elections Committee (PEC) on Monday, negative sentiment surged to -83 per cent on 11-12 September from -49 per cent in previous days while positive sentiment plunged to 17 per cent from 51 per cent over the same period, according to Meltwater’s data.

In addition,  there was an “extensive increase in social media chatter” surrounding the walkover outcome, Meltwater’s data showed.

On Monday, minutes after the announcement of Halimah’s eligibility, a number of Singaporeans began using the hashtag #notmypresident in their social media posts.

Two other presidential hopefuls, Second Chance Properties chief executive Salleh Marican and Bourbon Offshore Asia Pacific chairman Farid Khan, were deemed not eligible to run for the presidency by the PEC. Both did not meet the requirement for private sector applicants to have been either the chairman or CEO of a company with a paid-up capital of at least $500 million on average over the most immediate three financial years.

Halimah was declared Singapore’s next president on Nomination Day on Wednesday (13 September), and will be sworn in at the Istana on Thursday evening.

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