Yahoo News Singapore quoting sources close to Madam Halimah Yacob, reported yesterday that the Speaker of Parliament has decided to run in this year’s Presidential Election. The online news site said that Madam Halimah “has communicated her decision to run in the September election to grassroots leaders and People’s Action Party (PAP) activists.”
According to the sources who spoke to Yahoo, the 62-year-old former union leader is sad to leave her constituency after having served there for just two years. Madam Halimah however denied the she has reached a decision on the contest. She told the news site that she was still thinking if she should.
Just a few weeks ago however, Madam Halimah confirmed that she was eyeing the Elected Presidency. Speaking after a community event in her Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC on 16 July, Madam 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.
Dr Tan Cheng Bock the former Presidential Election candidate who was a whisker away from winning the 2011 Election, said that if the Government fails to allay the people’s concerns regarding the Elected Presidency (EP) the next EP will always be tainted with the suspicion that the reserved elections of 2017 were introduced to prevent his candidacy.