SINGAPORE: Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong has spoken out in support of President-elect Halimah Yacob and asked Singaporeans to “help the President succeed” in a Facebook post.
“The process of how Halimah Yacob became President may be highly controversial but she is not a controversial figure,” he wrote on Thursday (Sep 14) afternoon.
Mdm Halimah was the only candidate to qualify for the Presidency and will be sworn in on Thursday evening after a walkover was declared on Nomination Day.
While the former Speaker of Parliament is a popular politician who served in the labour movement for many years, Singaporeans have voiced unhappiness at not being able to exercise their vote.
Under recently tightened rules, the election was reserved for Malay candidates. Of the three hopefuls who put themselves forward, only Mdm Halimah satisfied the minimum requirement to run.
Mr Goh, a former prime minister, listed Mdm Halimah’s achievements and noted that her passion to help others was “not skin-deep”.
He persuaded her to leave NTUC to become a Member of Parliament in 2001 and has tracked her performance since, he said.
“Her motivation, dedication and desire to serve and help others are not skin-deep. I have no doubt that she will gain the respect and support of the people as a humble, down-to-earth and sincere President with a big heart for all, regardless of status, wealth, abilities, race or religion,” he wrote in the post.
“Halimah did not dream of being a President but will serve with full heart now that she is.”
People unhappy with the election process have used hashtags such as #notmypresident and #hardlymahpresident to vent their frustration online.
"The focus so far has been on process, but we should not let whatever unhappiness weigh down her duties," Mr Goh wrote.
“We expect our Head of State to be a unifying figure but we must also do our part to help the President succeed. Congratulations, President Halimah Yacob."
In her speech after being declared President-elect on Wednesday, Mdm Halimah said she would be a president for all Singaporeans.
"I know some have some doubts about the reserved election and I want to tell you as your President-elect, I promise to work with everyone. I am a President for everyone and I intend to serve all without any hesitation or doubt,” she said.