Halimah Yacob is the President of Singapore. We now have our first female President but we do not seem to be proud of it. Why is this so?
There were initially two other potential candidates, Salleh Marican and Farid Khan, but they failed to qualify after a government committee tightened the eligibility criteria. Both of them did not have enough i.e. $500m in shareholders’ equity to qualify as candidates of the Presidential Election.
Halimah Yacob did not hit the $500m criteria but was deemed eligible due to her previous position as the former Speaker of Parliament. We are not sure how that makes sense. Somehow, she ended up as the only eligible candidate.
Selection vs Election
Singaporeans were disappointed as we did not have a say or right to exercise our votes. We are not happy about the President Election because there was not even a competition. It was more of a “Selection” than “Election”.
People were also unhappy as it was a reserved Presidency. It is ironic that the government introduced it at a time when Dr Tan Cheng Bock was about to run for Presidency. It is ironic, too, that Halimah Yacob is a half-Indian and “won” even though the Presidency was reserved for Malay candidates only.
The 2017 President Election was full of controversies and unanswered questions. It showed a lack of maturity in the government and the electorate. It also showed the lack of trust we have in the government, and the government in us. The way forward may well be filled with even more questions and distrust. We finally have a new President, but we are not happy about it.