PM Lee Hsien Loong pays tribute to Halimah Yacob, says President must be 'non-partisan'

Nicholas Yong
Senior Correspondent
Halimah Yacob resigns as Speaker of Parliament, Marsiling-Yew Tee MP

Former Speaker of Parliament and Marsiling-Yew Tee Member of Parliament Halimah Yacob has been a “consistent and fearless voice” in the unions, the Parliament and the Government, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday (7 August) as he accepted her resignation as MP and from the People’s Action Party.

Lee also reminded the 62-year-old, “The President’s role requires her to be non-partisan and above politics, working with the government but making independent judgements when she exercises her custodial powers, such as when deciding on reserves and key appointments.

“I have no doubt that you will be able to play this different Constitutional role well.”

Halimah announced her bid for the presidency on Sunday night (6 August), submitting her resignation letters to PM Lee, the Clerk of Parliament and Deputy Speaker Charles Chong on Monday.

In a letter to Halimah, PM Lee recalled that they had first met 20 years ago, when she was a “well-respected unionist”. In 2001, when she was elected as an MP in Jurong GRC, she won over residents of all races and ages with her “sincerity, warmth and effectiveness”.

He noted, “Marsiling residents speak of you warmly as a humble, hardworking and approachable MP who goes the extra mile to listen to them and get things done.”

During her time in Cabinet, Lee noted that Halimah had an “independent view” and was not afraid to argue her case, which often caused her colleagues to rethink their positions.

As Speaker of Parliament, a role she took up in 2013, Halimah has been “fair to all MPs, encouraging vigorous debates…while ensuring decorum and order”, said Lee.

Deputy Speaker Charles Chong will serve as Acting Speaker until a new Speaker is elected by Parliament. Lee also said that he would soon appoint replacements for Halimah in her Marsiling ward, including a grassroots advisor to succeed her.

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