Member of Parliament from the People’s Action Party, Zainal Sapari, has vouched for the ‘Malayness’ of the Speaker of Parliament. This publication reported yesterday that Speaker of Parliament, Mdm Halimah Yacob’s Wikipedia page appears to have been edited recently, and that her page now does not show that she is a “Singaporean politician of Indian descent” as it previously did. The last edit on Mdm Halimah’s Wikipedia page was on 18 July 2017, and it has since been made a ‘protected page’ to guard against vandalism.
Mr Zainal, a PAP MP has now vouched for the ‘Malayness’ of the Speaker of Parliament. Sharing an article which said that Mdm Halimah contested in 3 General Elections as a ‘Malay’ minority candidate in his Facebook, Mr Zainal said that to him, “beyond any reasonable doubt, she belongs to (the) Malay Community.”
In answering a question on what constitutes a Malay person, Mr Zainal said: “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.”
Mdm Halimah recently confirmed that she is eyeing the Elected Presidency. Speaking after a community event in her Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, Mdm Halimah said:
“I am thinking about it, of running for the presidency…The elected presidency is a very heavy responsibility and an important institution in Singapore, so it’s not something that one should take lightly… so it needs a bit of time to think. But I must say at this moment, I have a lot of duties I have to perform, as Speaker, as MP. These duties are also very dear and important to me.”
At the parliamentary debate on the Presidential Election (amendment) Bill in February, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Chan Chun Sing, accidentally referred to Madam Halimah as “Madam President” instead of “Madam Speaker”. Netizens who responded to Mr Chan’s slip then, wondered if it was a freudian one.
In his address, Mr Chan further confirmed that no by-election will be called if a minority candidate in a GRC resigned to contest the Presidential Election.
Mr Chan explained that the GRC system, which requires each team to include at least one member of a minority race, has been in place since 1988, and that it has two purposes. First to ensure enough minority members in Parliament and secondly, to ensure no political campaign on issues of race and religion.
He noted that there are 25 minority MPs out of 89 – “more than what you’d expect proportionately from adding up the percentage of Malays, Indians and other minorities”.
“Even if we have one less, that is 24 out of 89, which is 27 per cent of Parliament,” Mr Chan said.
In April of this year, it was reported that a People’s Action Party (PAP) member who was abruptly asked to step down as Grassroots Adviser in Aljunied GRC just weeks before the 2015 General Election (GE) has been helping Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC Member of Parliament Halimah Yacob at her Meet-the-People Session (MPS) for more than a year.
The former Adviser of Kaki Bukit division in Aljunied GRC, Kahar Hassan, was dropped from the PAP team which went on to contest in the GE amidst rumours that he was “hardworking” but perhaps did not build up rapport with his residents.