Halimah Yacob has faith that voters will “look beyond the tudung and race” in reserved PE2017


In what appears to be starkly ironic comments, presidential hopeful Halimah Yacob has asserted that she has “great faith and confidence” in voters’ fair-mindedness “to look beyond the tudung, to look beyond race” as they elect the next head of state in an election that has been specifically reserved for the Malay race.

In a full page interview with the Straits Times last week, Halimah opined that she believes voters will also look beyond religion and gender, on top of race “because that is what our system is all about.”

Her remarks have attracted widespread criticism, with former Straits Times senior political correspondent Ismail Kassim stating that such comments can be seen as a “non-too-subtle way of playing the tudung and racial card for political ends.”

Kassim succinctly dissected Halimah’s comments on Facebook:

“The ”tudung” is not an issue in the coming EP (reserved for Malays) race, nor in past general elections.
“In fact, no one has ever raised it since she became the first MP to sport it years ago. She too has never publicly expressed sympathy for her other tudung-clad sisters, facing obstacles in the job market because of their headgear.
“It is unfortunate and regrettable that Madam HY has now brought it up without considering the negative connotations her remarks could create among the multi-racial voters.
“In her interview with Straits Times, she said: ”I have great faith and confidence in their fair-mindedness…to look beyond the tudung, to look beyond religion, to look beyond race, to look beyond gender, because that is what our system is all about.”
“This is seen by many as a non-too-subtle way of playing the tudung and racial card for political ends.
“It would be better for Madam HY to use her position to remind her bosses to look beyond race, religion and tudung to ensure equal and fair opportunities for all Singaporeans in all the uniformed groups including NS and the military services.
“It is still not too late for Madam to do so.”

In the same interview, Halimah is reported to have “firmly refuted” that the triggering of a reserved election is a deliberate attempt to balance multiracialism and meritocracy.

She said that the reserved election, instead, safeguards these founding ideals since all races are supposedly given fair access to be represented at one time or another while all candidates must meet certain criteria.

Halimah said, “It shows we don’t only talk about multiracialism, but we talk about it in the context of meritocracy or opportunities for everyone, and we actually practise it,” elaborating that it shows Singaporeans can “accept anyone of any colour, any creed, any religion, at any position in our society, so long as they feel that the person can contribute.”

The basis of the reserved election has been hotly debated since November 2016, when Parliament announced new amendments to the elected presidential scheme and declared that since there has not been a President from the Malay community for five consecutive terms, the 2017 election will be reserved for those from the Malay community.

Only three candidates, including Halimah – an ex-Speaker of Parliament and minority MP for Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC who just resigned to contest the election – have stepped up to throw their hats into the ring so far.

It is interesting to note that the reserved election was called about 7 months after veteran politician Dr Tan Cheng Bock announced his intention to contest this year’s presidential election. Dr Tan had lost the last presidential race by a mere 0.35% of votes.

Dr Tan is now awaiting the court’s decision on a constitutional challenge he had filed with regards to the reserved election. In his application to the court, Dr Tan disputed the counting of the five consecutive terms and argued that if the government counts from President Ong Teng Cheong, Singapore’s first rightfully elected President instead of counting from President Wee Kim Wee who was an appointed president, this year’s election would not need to be reserved in accordance to the new amendments.

A panel of five appellate judges from Singapore’s highest court of law, the Court of Appeal, are still deliberating over the judgment after hearing the appeal on 31 July 2017.

Dr Tan filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal after his initial application was rejected by the High Court, where Justice Quentin Loh ruled that, “Ultimately, since (the Constitution) does not fetter Parliament’s power … Parliament’s choice of (the first elected President) is a policy decision which falls outside the remit of the courts.”



  1. To look beyond tudung, race, religion and gender means that this President Elections must be opened to all race, religion and gender !
    Certainly, Dr Tan Cheng Bock and Dr Lee Wei Ling as well as Li Sheng Wu are qualified candidates!!!
    Just wonder whether our ministers are wearing hearing aids, and have their vision tested???
    Time to honour our National pledge, where all our ministers pay their vows to God of heaven and earth, that we live by the human principle to choose our President regardless of race language or religions

  2. Malu lah, Halimah! Tak ada muka, kah? Cakap macam budak! Since you claim to be Malay, I have to use whatever Malay I know to try and get the message across to you.

  3. The irony is that her photo will be everywhere wearing a tudong..in schools, offices, hospitals, police station, cc, rc BUT no other muslim , malay or indian, is allowed to wear a tudong to office, school, as a nurse in hospital, or as a policewomen.. She should be ashamed of herself.

  4. Own goal ah!!! Look Beyond tudung = no reserve pe for Malay. What is she talking ?? Haven get the seat foul up already. Ownself score own goal ah.

  5. If she din talk about it , no one would have bother about. Now since she mentioned it it had now become another issue among the list. Silly isn’t it?

  6. I also want to look beyond the Tudung an vote for a candidate that is above race, gender and religion…however ur Master says no…vote only for The Tudung…then u tell me to look beyond it. How the fark that work?

  7. Disgraceful. She allowed her masters to interfere in her personal belief n practises to be a tool for political propaganda. Shameful. Pls stop already.
    If you making a point on racial then why discriminate on race in the first place for a malay president and then the other story of not needing a minority rep when she resigned? If got integrity and for the nation’s benefit – please step up and decline to run and notify that the best person be elected and not by race. A president shld be non bias and not an affiliated party member. We dont believe that it will be fair. Stuff will get brushed under; details will be hidden and no transparency on governance and control.
    Haiz…. bottomline..
    Step down and retire with dignity. Otherwise ur grave will be spat on for generations. And forks up ur behinds in hell. Forever.

  8. Halimah this has nothing to do with the Tudung. This PE is reserved for a Malay candidate not for a canada date who has “Malayness” in them….your father is an Indian and hence you are NOT Malay and would not qualify. But with PAP as your backer this is overlooked and this PE is a farce…..understand now…?

  9. Huh?? What is this election about? Thought it is a reserved election for a minority race type??? Then how to look beyond the race???? I am SUPER SUPER DUPER CONFUSED!!!!

  10. Is Abdullah Tamugi a Malay too? He was also spesker. He was an RI boy, he was a scholar. But this is about Halimah and the hijab. She is put there. It is about the measures taken to ensure PAP puts its own as EP. If she is saying she has always aspire to become the President, I don’t believe a word of it. If you gather all the public statements she ever made, there is no indication she has the capability. Unlike TCB who had stated his intention. In order to prevent a most suitable candidate, PAP used the racial and religious card. Indian is Malay but must be Muslim. A hijab becomes the talking point. Beyond the hijab, what is there that qualifies her? Did she think of being EP when she discovered that the constitution fits like a glove?

  11. Look beyond?! She shld ask herself who made this a reserved PE for malay and who the hell said that Singapore is not ready for a Indian PM?. HE is in denial that Tharman will be a better PM. Singapore is ready. He isn’t.

  12. Regardless race or religion…. why is there different standards with regards to woman wearing hijab to work in civil services? It is still an open issue which is being pushed away in parliment

  13. Mdm Mutton it’s not abt Tudong ,Malay or Muslim it’s abt your integrity your blood line be proud with your own race not disown it ,be honest and come clean abt it remember Alah is watching !

  14. I have nothing against Halimah Yacob. But I will never vote her to be my President. I hate the whole setup. Where is the meritocracy, integrity, equality……I will

  15. My question is if the President of Israel pays a visit to Singapore she has to host a dinner in his honour. Will all the muslims around the region protest. Maybe they will get a non muslim to stand in for her. Anything is possible with the PAP screwed up politics.

  16. No one is competing in the election bcos fearing to offend the one whom whom dedicate her to be elected…just call off the election don’t waste time….

  17. Halimah Yacob has faith that voters will ‘look beyond the tudung and race’ in reserved PE 2017 is simply a misplaced Faith and Fantasy! The voters or more broadly The PEOPLE are NOT that stupid. They KNOW that Ms Halimah Yacob is in it for Money and Prestige. She has already said that she wants to be like President Phoney Tony Tan Keng Yam who is only a PAP lackey. He will leave the presidency in DISGRACE and will NOT hold his head in honour in public thereafter. President Tony Tan, You are an opportunist! You did NOTHING! Simply going ALL The Way With The Dishonourable son and the PAP. Shame on you!

  18. This President will be the most disgraceful President this little island will see for sometime, if someone can renounce their race for monetary gains i wonder what kind of integrity and honour does she have.

  19. Ur PAP. Singaporeans mostly goondus. Ur gonna win. Don’t worry. Even if u come in Mickey Mouse costume, being pap and having mostly goondus as citizens.. u will win for sure.

  20. Firstly, as a person, there is no question HY has done a lot more re workers, Muslim community etc. Her background will suit her well in unifying a country as we combat the threat of China (who wants to bring us to our knees economically and militarily ?), terrorism, globalisation impact on jobs, etc. Secondly, there is no question that other individuals like TCB would possibly do well in check and balance role, in bringing up and attempting to correct any shortfalls of the government (himself being part of the establishment, was in several GPCs, even in PAP CEC previously). So, I really think TCB should stop anymore thought of trying to run for President and instead aim to do better in the opposition. After all, there were cases of ex PAP going into the opposition eg Lee Siew Choh. If TCB is that good as views seem to point to, go to the other side of the river. Let HY bond the country whilst let TCB check the nuts and bolts.

  21. What the F she’s talking about? Look beyond race? The damn PE is about race n I cannot imagine her picture are everywhere with her wearing a tudang n yet many places are not allowed to wear a tudang. What a freaking double standard Govt we have.

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