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Singapore Elects First Hijabi President

SINGAPORE – Former Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob is set to be Singapore’s first Malay president in more than 47 years, following Elections Department (ELD) yesterday’s announcement she was the only candidate qualified to run for office.

“This is a journey we must take together, I want to invite all Singaporeans to work with me,” said Madam Halimah Yacob at the Elections Department, Straits Times reported on Tuesday, September 12.

Her presumed victory followed the announcement that bids by her opponents, Salleh Marican and Farid Khan, have ended.

Both men failed as their applications for the certificate of eligibility did not pass muster. On the other hand, Yacob was the only one to receive both Certificate of Eligibility and Community Certificate.

Halimah will be Singapore’s eighth President and the first woman to hold the position as the country’s Head of State.

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The Returning Officer, Energy Market Authority chief executive Ng Wai Choong, will declare her as the elected President on Nomination Day on Wednesday.

Former President Tony Tan’s six-year term expired on Aug 31 and J Y Pillay – the chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers – has been the Acting President since Sept 1. There will not be a poll and Halimah will start her term as President on Thursday.

Many Singaporeans had hoped for the chance to choose their president.

“On the one hand, I am very happy for Madam Halimah, as she would make a very good president,” said Chua Chu Kang GRC MP Zaqy Mohamad.

“But many Singaporeans were hoping for a contest because they felt they had a democratic right to vote.”

This year’s Presidential Election has been reserved for the Malay community, following changes to the Elected Presidency scheme passed by Parliament last November.

The changes allow for the election to be reserved for a particular ethnicity that has not had an elected representative for five consecutive terms.

President Yusof Ishak was Singapore’s first President and the only Malay to have held the office till he died in 1970.