Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob says she will run for President

Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob (centre), her husband Mohammed Abdullah Alhabshee (left) and Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong at the Marsiling National Day Celebration event on Sunday (6 August). (PHOTO: Safhras Khan / Yahoo News Singapore)

Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob announced on Sunday (6 August) that she will stand in Presidential Election (PE) in September.

The 62-year-old Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC MP said she would be handing her letter of resignation to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday. As required by the Constitution, she will have to step down as MP and Speaker in order to contest the election.

“I will ask the Prime Minister to ensure that there are proper replacements for me quickly, especially in the Marsiling division, so that there is no disruption to you, the residents in Marsiling,” she said at the Marsiling National Day Celebration event at the Marsiling Community Club.

The three other MPs in Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC are Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, Alex Yam and Ong Teng Koon.

Wong said, “She’s hardworking and humble as an MP. She had discussed (contesting the election) with the team prior to this and she has built a good team at the GRC. She has brought about good initiatives for the estate.”

Speaking at a media doorstop following her announcement, Halimah said that she had a team ready to help her contest the election.

“It (the team) consists mostly of volunteers and my friends. They are determined to help Singapore like I do,” she said, adding that, “I’ve spoken to the Malay MPs. They support my decision fully.”

Asked if she would move her family to the Istana should she win the election, Halimah said, “I am comfortable living in a HDB flat and I don’t see a reason (to move) unless it is for security reasons.”

Wait is over

Speculation had been rife over when the Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC MP would confirm her bid for the presidency ever since she said she was “thinking about” about it on 16 July.

Yahoo News Singapore reported on 27 July that Halimah had decided to run in the PE, citing sources, although she said then in response to queries that she was still considering.

Thus far, the other would-be candidates for the election are Second Chance Properties chief executive officer Mohd Salleh Marican and Bourbon Offshore Asia Pacific chairman Farid Khan Kaim Khan.

Salleh, 67, was the first to announce his plans on 31 May, while Farid, 62, revealed his intention at a press conference held on 11 July.

Asked for his thoughts on Halimah’s announcement, Salleh said, “I am glad she’s finally announced her intention to run. It is no surprise to anyone in Singapore. A good contest is good for Singapore.”

The PE has stirred much debate since Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced last November that it would be reserved for Malay candidates. Parliament subsequently approved constitutional amendments to allow for a reserved PE under certain circumstances.

Former presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock filed an application in May to challenge the counting of the five terms of elected presidency, stating that the first term should start with President Ong Teng Cheong and not President Wee Kim Wee.

The government has said the first term began with Wee, who was appointed to office, as he had exercised the powers of elected presidency during his second term in the Istana.

Tan’s case was dismissed by the High Court last month but he subsequently appealed against the ruling, the result of which remains pending following the Court of Appeal’s decision on 31 July to reserve judgement on the matter.

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