Yesterday (1 Jun), ST published a news report stating that PAP MP and Speaker of Parliament, Halimah Yacob, is widely considered a front runner for the forthcoming Presidential Election.
It will be the first election reserved for candidates from the Malay community, following a recent review of the constitution.
According to the amended Singapore Constituion Section 19B, the Presidential Election will be reserved for a community if none of its members has held office of President for 5 or more consecutive terms.
“19B (1) An election for the office of President is reserved for a community if no person belonging to that community has held the office of President for any of the 5 most recent terms of office of the President.”
Sub-Section (6) defines a community:
“(6) In this Article, “community” means —
(a) the Chinese community;
(b) the Malay community; or
(c) the Indian or other minority communities;
‘person belonging to the Chinese community’ means any person who considers himself to be a member of the Chinese community and who is generally accepted as a member of the Chinese community by that community;
‘person belonging to the Malay community’ means any person, whether of the Malay race or otherwise, who considers himself to be a member of the Malay community and who is generally accepted as a member of the Malay community by that community;
‘person belonging to the Indian or other minority communities’ means any person of Indian origin who considers himself to be a member of the Indian community and who is generally accepted as a member of the Indian community by that community, or any person who belongs to any minority community other than the Malay or Indian community;”
Now, notice that in the case of Malay community, there is an addition clause added – “whether of the Malay race or otherwise”.
In other words, you don’t have to be a person of Malay race to be considered part of the Malay community. Persons of other race can also be considered part of the Malay community, presumably as long as he or she is a Muslim.
Halimah is an Indian Muslim
Take Mdm Halimah for example, she is actually not a Malay as her father is of Indian origin.
This was disclosed in an ST article in 2013 when Halimah was selected to be the new Speaker of Parliament after the former one, Michael Palmer, resigned from politics due to his marital affair with a PA woman.
ST did a write-up to feature Halimah (‘A strong advocate for workers, women and minorities‘, Jan 2013):
In the article, it mentioned: “Her (Halimah’s) Indian-Muslim father was a watchman who died when she was eight years old.”
In fact, news of Halimah becoming Singapore’s first woman speaker also made its way to India. The Hindu described her as an “Indian-origin politician” (‘Indian-origin politician to be Singapore’s first woman speaker‘):
So, what all this means is that in the coming Presidential Election which is reserved for the Malay community, a non-Malay person who is a Muslim can also contest.
If Halimah, an Indian Muslim qualifies as part of the Malay community, then a Chinese Muslim, for example, can qualify too.