'I'm not a reserved President, I'm a President for everyone': Halimah Yacob

'I'm not a reserved President, I'm a President for everyone': Halimah Yacob

Halimah Yacob giving speech on Nomination Day
President-elect Halimah Yacob addresses public on Nomination Day. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)

SINGAPORE: President-elect Halimah Yacob has promised to be a President for everyone, regardless of race, language or religion.

"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,” said Mdm Halimah after being declared President-elect on Wednesday (Sep 13).

“Although there is no election, my commitment to serve you remains the same, there is no diminution in my desire, passion, and commitment to serve you.”

This year’s election was reserved for candidates from the Malay community. Mdm Halimah will be Singapore’s first female President and the first Malay head of state in 47 years, after she became the only person to qualify for the election.

Mdm Halimah, 62, called her election a triumph for multiculturalism in Singapore.

"This is a proud moment for multi-culturalism, multi-racialism," she said to applause at the Nomination Centre at the People's Association Headquarters.

"This shows that multi-culturalism is not just a slogan ... it really works in our society. Everyone has the chance to reach the highest office of land."

The former Speaker of Parliament also gave a call out to her "sisters" in the crowd.

"I also stand before you as the first female President of Singapore," she said with her husband Mohamed Abdullah standing beside her. "I can see that many of our sisters are delighted ... Every woman can aspire to the highest office in the land if you have the courage, the determination and the will to work hard."


She concluded by calling for unity and for all Singaporeans to stand together to make the country a better place.

"The time to elect a president has ended, and now it's the time for us to focus on how we can build Singapore so that it becomes a more progressive society," she said in her Malay speech. "And we have to work together in this effort. Not one person can say that it can be done singlehandedly."

She said twice: "I ask that we focus on the similarities that we have and not on our differences."

Harking back to her campaign slogan "Do good, Do together", she said: "I am deeply humbled to be given this opportunity to serve all of you ... We can do good together, and I invite you to do good together with me."


Speaking to reporters after her speech, Mdm Halimah said that she was "deeply heartened" by the "tremendous support from Singaporeans".

"I will start working immediately, that is my promise," she said. "I will serve with great vigour, with a lot of hard work, with the same passion commitment as I did over the last four decades."

When asked whether she will continue to stay in Yishun or move to the Istana once she becomes President, Mdm Halimah did not give a definitive answer.

"Well, I'm still living in Yishun as you can see. There were a lot of journalists just now waiting for me on the ground floor ... so they know I am still staying there," she said with a laugh.

When reporters pressed further, her husband, Mr Mohamed, said that their flat is "as huge as a penthouse, it's big".

Mdm Halimah added: "I think it’s a very nice and comfortable place, I’ve been living there for many years." 

She also told reporters that her health was "very good". She exercises for at least 45 minutes every morning and climbs the stairs to her flat, she said.

"I think the Istana grounds are very big so that gives me a chance to walk around, exercise further and keep myself fit."

Mdm Halimah will be sworn in as Singapore’s eighth President at the Istana on Thursday. 

Source: CNA/hm