SINGAPORE: President Halimah Yacob’s announcement that she will not be standing for re-election in the upcoming presidential election has been met with widespread approval from Singaporeans, with some saying that it’s the best thing she has done in what is perceived to be an unremarkable stint in the Istana.
The 68-year-old ex-ruling party politician confirmed in a press statement yesterday (29 May) that she will not seek re-election once her term ends on 13 Sept. Calling her six-year term as Singapore’s eighth President a humbling and inspiring experience, President Halimah said she made the decision after careful consideration.
Her announcement has been widely welcomed by Singaporeans who have expressed longstanding dissatisfaction with the circumstances of her uncontested election in 2017.
Netizens on social media platforms have indicated a sense of relief that she will not be continuing in office, claiming that her tenure was unremarkable and lacked meaningful impact. One commenter said:
“I’ve never really felt your presence as our president, to be very honest, unlike a few of your predecessors… perhaps that’s your limitation or was it intentional…I am also not sure what will be the legacy you are leaving behind… perhaps no legacy is also another form of legacy.”
Another said, “Just wasted 6 good years of her career sitting in the villa for 3 years of pandemic. Could have done something more fulfilling in the labour movement and for working women!”
Others flooded online forums with the #notmypresident hashtag and jibed that President Halimah decided not to seek re-election because she knows she will be rejected at the polls. Many online wrote simply “thank you for your decision” or “good decision.”
One top comment said: “I already forgot who you are… until now you come out and talk.”
Another individual, referencing the walkover victory of President Halimah, said: “You were not elected in the first place. Rather, you were so-called selected. My guess is that you were not chosen to be ‘re-selected’ by the government for the next presidency. Nonetheless, I don’t think there is any loss to the people and the country.”
Some others asked how she could seek “re-election” as there was no election in 2017, and since she coasted to the head of state seat after new eligibility criteria in the reserved election resulted in her being the only nominee.
The public’s reaction underscores the desire for a more inclusive and participatory electoral system in the future. As the next presidential election approaches, Singaporeans anticipate the opportunity to select their president at the polls.