SINGAPORE: Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob said on Saturday (Jul 29) she is still considering whether to run for President.
"I'm deeply honoured by the expressions of support, but I still need to further do my consultations,” she said.
Earlier this week, an article posted by Yahoo News Singapore had quoted a source close to her as saying that she has already made up her mind.
There has been much speculation over Mdm Halimah's possible candidacy. Her heritage has also been thrown into the spotlight: This year's election has been reserved for the Malay community, but her father was Indian-Muslim.
“I've been certified four times by the Community Committee as a member of the Malay community. It is something for the Community Committee to decide,” she said.
Mdm Halimah was speaking at a post-Hari Raya gathering of 20 women leaders of various faiths, including youths from the Inter-Religious Organisation, representatives from the Singapore Taoist Mission and the Young Women's Christian Association.
The engagement session, held at An-Nahdhah Mosque's Harmony Centre, brought together these women to learn more about Islam and the Malay culture. This is the first such celebration organised by the Singapore Muslim Women's Association.
DON’T TAKE RACIAL HARMONY FOR GRANTED: HALIMAH
Mdm Halimah also cautioned Singaporeans not to take racial harmony for granted.
“Our young did not go through history, so they think this (current state) is what it should be and it will continue to be. But that is not the natural state. Look at all the countries around the world. There is no country that is harmonious,” she said.
"I lived through the (1964 race) riots, and I'll tell you why it was one of the most frightening periods of my life that I never forgot."
Mdm Halimah recounted how she, her brother and her mother were stranded outside after curfew hours in 1965. Her mother was selling food at that time, and they had missed the last bus home. The trio spent the night at the stall, and during the wee hours of the morning, her mother panicked as she thought she saw some figures loitering nearby. Thankfully, she said, a police car patrolling nearby spotted them and gave them a ride home.
Mdm Halimah noted that since then, the Government has put in place various policies - like Housing Board’s Ethnic Integration Policy, and the protection of minorities in the Constitution - to ensure that peace is maintained. But "the biggest hiccup is not what the Government puts in place. The biggest hiccup lies with us", she said.
The Internet, she said, makes things more complicated, as it is a platform that allows people to make inflammatory comments about race or religion freely. There's also the global issue of terrorism, and its ripple effects.
Mdm Halimah said these are "potential fault lines", which is why it is crucial to organise interfaith engagements to foster understanding and mutual respect.
This will ensure that Singapore can remain united in the face of adversity, she said.