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Halimah binti Yacob (Jawi: حليمة بنت يعقوب; born 23 August 1954) is a Singaporean politician who is the current President of Singapore. Formerly a member of the country's governing People's Action Party (PAP), she was the ninth Speaker of Parliament,[1] from January 2013 to August 2017. She was a Member of Parliament (MP) representing Jurong Group Representation Constituency between 2001 and 2015, and Marsiling-Yew Tee Group Representation Constituency between 2015 and 2017.

Halimah Yacob
حليمة بنت يعقوب
Halimah Yacob APEC Women and the Economy Forum 2012.jpg
8th President of Singapore
Assumed office
14 September 2017
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
Preceded by Tony Tan
9th Speaker of the Parliament of Singapore
In office
14 January 2013 – 7 August 2017
Deputy Charles Chong
Lim Biow Chuan
Preceded by Michael Palmer
Succeeded by Tan Chuan-Jin
Member of the Singapore Parliament
for Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC (Marsiling)
In office
11 September 2015 – 7 August 2017
Preceded by Constituency established
Succeeded by Vacant (as MP)
Zaqy Mohamad (as grassroots adviser)
Member of the Singapore Parliament
for Jurong GRC (Bukit Batok East)
In office
3 November 2001 – 24 August 2015
Preceded by Constituency established
Succeeded by Rahayu Mahzam
Personal details
Born (1954-08-23) 23 August 1954 (age 63)
Singapore
Political party People's Action Party (2001–2017)
Independent (2017–present)
Spouse(s) Mohammed Abdullah Alhabshee
Children 5
Education National University of Singapore (LLB, LLM)

On 7 August 2017, she resigned from her positions as Speaker and MP, and from her membership in the PAP, to stand as a candidate for the 2017 Singapore presidential election.[2] On 13 September, she was declared President-elect in a walkover, as no other presidential candidate was issued the Certificate of Eligibility.[3][4] She was sworn in the following day,[5] becoming the first female president in the country's history.[6]

Contents

Early life and educationEdit

Halimah Yacob is of paternal Indian and maternal Malay descent. Her father was a watchman who died when she was eight years old, leaving her to be brought up by her mother.[7][8][9]

She was educated at Singapore Chinese Girls' School and Tanjong Katong Girls' School, before going on to the National University of Singapore where she completed an LLB (Hons) degree in 1978. In 1981, she was called to the Singapore Bar. In 2001, she completed an LLM degree at the National University of Singapore, and was conferred an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from NUS on 7 July 2016.[10]

CareerEdit

Halimah worked as a legal officer at the National Trades Union Congress, and became the director of its legal services department in 1992. She was appointed as a director of the Singapore Institute of Labour Studies (now known as the Ong Teng Cheong Institute of Labour Studies) in 1999.[11]

Political careerEdit

Halimah entered politics in 2001 when she was elected as an MP for the Jurong Group Representation Constituency (GRC).

Following the 2011 general election, Halimah was appointed Minister of State at the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports.[12] Following a Cabinet reshuffle in November 2012,[13] she became a Minister of State at the Ministry of Social and Family Development.[12] She has also served as the Chair of Jurong Town Council.[14]

In January 2015, she was co-opted into the PAP's Central Executive Committee, the party's highest decision-making body.[15]

At the 2015 general election, Halimah was the sole minority candidate for the People's Action Party group contesting the then-newly-formed Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC.[16]

She has spoken out actively against radical Islam, in particular condemning and disassociating from the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant.[17][18][19]

Speaker of ParliamentEdit

On 8 January 2013, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong nominated Halimah Yacob to succeed former Speaker Michael Palmer who resigned after he was revealed to have had an extramarital affair.[20] She was elected Speaker of Parliament on 14 January 2013, the first woman to hold the post in Singapore's history.[21]

Trade union involvementEdit

Halimah served at the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) as the Deputy Secretary General, Director of the Legal Services Department and Director of the Women's Development Secretariat.[22] She also served as the Executive Secretary of the United Workers of Electronics and Electrical Industries.[23]

Halimah was elected as the Workers' Vice-Chairperson of the Standards Committee of the International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva from 2000 to 2002 and in 2005. In 2003 and 2004, she was the Workers' Spokesperson for the ILC Committee on Human Resources Development and Training.[24]

2017 presidential electionEdit

On 6 August 2017, Halimah announced that she will step down as Speaker of Parliament and MP of Marsiling-Yew Tee the next day to run for the presidency in the 2017 Singapore presidential election,[25][26] which was reserved for members of the Malay community.[27] She was widely viewed as the PAP's candidate for the election, and was endorsed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.[28]

Her sudden resignation as sole minority MP in Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC has sparked calls for a by-election as the purpose of GRC is to ensure minority representation. The PAP government refused to hold a by-election, culminating to the filing of lawsuits by the SDP and Dr Wong Souk Yee, a resident in the GRC. A hearing is set on 15 January 2018.[29]

On 25 August 2017, Halimah launched her official campaign website, including her campaign slogan "Do Good Do Together", which was criticised by many for being ungrammatical. She defended her slogan, explaining that it is meant to be catchy.[30]

In response to public queries whether Halimah broke election rules by campaigning ahead of the nomination day, the ELD clarified that its rule which forbids candidates from campaigning before close of nomination only applies to candidates who are nominated.[31]

Halimah's campaign expenses reached only $220,875 out of the $754,982.40 the legal limit . Her expenses were used for promotional material, room rental, office suplies, food, transport and phone bills.[32]

Queries were also raised regarding her long affiliation with PAP and perceived lack of political independence as she quit the party just one month ago to campaign in the election. Halimah responded by comparing herself to the late President Ong Teng Cheong who was also a member of the PAP before being elected.[33] She also cited that she had abstained from voting in an amendment for the Human Organ Transplant Act in 2007.[34]

Former NMP Calvin Cheng suggested that Halimah does not appear to have the professional experience needed to manage the financial reserves.[35] According to Publichouse.sg's estimate, her financial management involvement is only about $40 million, much less than the stringent $500 million shareholders’ equity requirement for private sector candidates.[36]

Being the only candidate to be issued a Certificate of Eligibility, Halimah became the 8th President of Singapore.[37] Dr Tan Cheng Bock wrote that Halimah "will occupy the most controversial presidency in the history of Singapore."[38] The Economist described her as "popular and able".[39]

ReactionsEdit

On 13 September 2017, the Singapore Democratic Party filed a lawsuit in the High Court against the PAP government for refusing to call a by-election in Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC following Halimah Yacob’s resignation from her post as the sole minority MP in her constituency.[40]

After the Elections Department announced that Halimah was the only possible candidate for the presidency, global media monitoring house Meltwater observed a significant increase in negative sentiment on social media surrounding the Presidential Elections from 11 to 12 September 2017. The data shows 83% of negative sentiment and 17% of positive sentiment.[41]

Critical backlash on the internet has also led to the widespread use of the hashtag #NotMyPresident in Singapore.

Following the announcement, a number of Singaporeans began using the hashtag #NotMyPresident on Facebook and Twitter to voice their disappointment. [42][43][44] In response, The Straits Times reported that there was the use of #halimahismypresident by an "equally vocal group", urging "Singaporeans to rally round their next president".[44]

Halimah's decision to stay in her jumbo HDB instead of moving into the Istana raised security concerns[45] and was met with disapproval by netizens who highlighted the inconvenience caused by the Presidential motorcade as well as the additional cost in maintaining such security arrangement.[46] On 2 October 2017, Halimah accepted MHA's security recommendation to move out of her HDB flat to the Istana less than a month after taking office. [47]

Personal lifeEdit

Halimah is married to Mohammed Abdullah Alhabshee,[48] a retiree[49] of Arab descent,[50] and has five children.[51] Halimah is a Muslim.[52] She announced that she will be moving out of her HDB duplex in Yishun, consisting of one 5-room flat and one 4-room flat joined together by demolishing the median wall.[51][53]

AwardsEdit

In recognition of her contributions, she was conferred the Berita Harian/McDonald's Achiever of the Year Award in 2001,[54] the "Her World Woman of the Year Award" in 2003,[55] the AWARE Heroine Award 2011,[56] and was inducted into the Singapore Council of Women's Organisations's Singapore Women's Hall of Fame in 2014.[57]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Halimah Yacob Became First Woman Speaker of the Singapore Parliament". Jagran Josh. 16 January 2013. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  2. ^ "PM Lee accepts Halimah Yacob's resignation from the PAP". Channel NewsAsia. 7 August 2017. Archived from the original on 7 August 2017. Retrieved 7 August 2017. 
  3. ^ U-Wen, Lee. "Halimah Yacob declared president-elect after walkover victory". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 13 September 2017. 
  4. ^ "Who is Halimah Yacob, Singapore's first female President?". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 2017-09-13. 
  5. ^ Chia, Lianne (14 September 2017). "Halimah Yacob sworn in as Singapore's 8th President". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 14 September 2017. 
  6. ^ "Halimah Yacob named Singapore's first female president". Al Jazeera. September 13, 2017. Retrieved 2017-09-14. 
  7. ^ Rajan, Uma (June 28, 2016). "To Singapore with Love...". In Pillai, Gopinath & Kesavapany, Krishnasamy. 50 Years of Indian Community in Singapore. World Scientific Publishing Co. p. 107. ISBN 978-9-813-14058-5. Notable female politicians include Dhanam Avadai, PAP Member for Moulmein (1965–1968), lawyer Indranee Rajah, the current Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Law and Ministry of Education, and Indian-origin politician Halimah Yacob, former Minister and current Speaker of Parliament. 
  8. ^ Cheam, Jessica (January 10, 2013). "A strong advocate for workers, women and minorities". The Straits Times. Singapore. Archived from the original on July 21, 2017. Retrieved July 21, 2017. Her Indian-Muslim father was a watchman who died when she was eight years old. 
  9. ^ Tham, Yuen-C (July 17, 2017). "More consultation needed before my decision to run for president: Halimah Yacob". The Straits Times. Singapore. Archived from the original on July 17, 2017. Retrieved July 21, 2017. She added that her father, who died when she was eight years old, was born in Singapore, and she was brought up by her Malay mother. 
  10. ^ Lim, Yan Liang (7 July 2016). "Halimah Yacob conferred honorary Doctor of Laws degree by NUS". Straits Times. Retrieved 7 July 2016. 
  11. ^ Rasheed, Zainul Abidin bin; Saat, Norshahril (2016). Majulah!: 50 Years of Malay/Muslim Community in Singapore. World Scientific. ISBN 9789814759885. 
  12. ^ a b "Mdm Halimah Yacob". Parliament of Singapore. Archived from the original on 6 August 2017. Retrieved 6 August 2017. 
  13. ^ "Singapore reshuffles Cabinet". Channel NewsAsia. 31 July 2012. Archived from the original on 6 August 2017. Retrieved 6 August 2017. 
  14. ^ "Jurong Town Council's Audited Financial Statements, Auditors' Reports and Annual Report For FY2010/2011" (PDF). 2017-08-08. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-08-08. 
  15. ^ "Four more co-opted into PAP central executive committee". TODAYonline. 7 January 2015. Archived from the original on 7 August 2017. Retrieved 7 August 2017. 
  16. ^ Ong, Justin (21 August 2015). "PAP unveils lineup for new Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC". Channel NewsAsia. Archived from the original on 6 August 2017. Retrieved 6 August 2017. 
  17. ^ Chong, Zi Liang (22 November 2015). "The Sunday Times - Counter ISIS ideology on social media: Halimah". The Straits Times (The Sunday Times). Singapore. Archived from the original on 19 April 2016. Retrieved 23 July 2017. 
  18. ^ Heng, Janice (25 December 2016). "Build community ties to guard against terror: Halimah". The Straits Times. Singapore. Archived from the original on 25 December 2016. Retrieved 23 July 2017. 
  19. ^ WONG, PEI TING (16 June 2017). "Keep a close watch on daughters too, as IS not just targeting men: Halimah". TODAY Online. Singapore. Retrieved 23 July 2017. 
  20. ^ Saad, Imelda (8 January 2013). "PM Lee to nominate Halimah Yacob as next Speaker of Parliament". ChannelNewsAsia. Archived from the original on 15 February 2013. 
  21. ^ Imelda Saad (8 January 2013). "PM Lee to nominate Halimah Yacob as next Speaker of Parliament". Channel News Asia. Singapore. Archived from the original on 11 January 2013. Retrieved 27 July 2017. If elected, she will be Singapore's first woman Speaker and will fill the post vacated by former Member of Parliament, Mr Michael Palmer, who stepped down last month due to an extramarital affair. 
  22. ^ Koh, Valerie (6 August 2017). "Mdm Halimah, Singapore's first woman Speaker, could make history again". TODAYonline. Retrieved 2017-09-14. 
  23. ^ Yong, Charissa (4 August 2017). "Homecoming for Halimah Yacob at union's dinner and dance". The Straits Times. Singapore. Archived from the original on 8 August 2017. Retrieved 8 August 2017. The United Workers of Electronics and Electrical Industries dinner and dance on Friday night (Aug 4) was a homecoming of sorts for Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob. She was its executive secretary from 2004 to 2011, and is now advisor to the 60,000-strong union. 
  24. ^ "Mdm Halimah Yacob appointed NTUC Advisor for Int'l Affairs". National Trades Union Congress Press Release. Singapore. 15 January 2013. Archived from the original on 8 August 2017. Retrieved 8 August 2017. 
  25. ^ Tham, Yuen-C (6 August 2017). "Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob to run for President in coming election". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 6 August 2017. Retrieved 6 August 2017. 
  26. ^ "Halimah Yacob announces bid to be Singapore's next President". Channel NewsAsia. 6 August 2017. Archived from the original on 6 August 2017. Retrieved 6 August 2017. 
  27. ^ Yong, Charissa (8 November 2016). "Parliament: 2017 presidential election will be reserved for Malay candidates, says PM Lee". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 6 August 2017. Retrieved 6 August 2017. 
  28. ^ Siau, Ming En (7 August 2017). "Halimah will bring dignity, warmth to presidency if elected: PM". TODAYonline. Archived from the original on 7 August 2017. Retrieved 7 August 2017. 
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  34. ^ "'I do not serve any political party': Halimah Yacob talks about her independence, unveils Presidential campaign slogan". Retrieved 12 September 2017. 
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  40. ^ "PE 2017: SDP suing government for not calling by-election". Sg.news.yahoo.com. 2016-10-19. Retrieved 2017-09-15. 
  41. ^ Tay, Vivienne. "Online sentiments surrounding Halimah Yacob's presidential walkover". Marketing Interactive. Retrieved 2017-09-13. 
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  43. ^ "#NotMyPresident starts trending in Singapore after elections confirmed to be a walkover | Coconuts Singapore". Coconuts. 2017-09-11. Retrieved 2017-09-13. 
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  45. ^ http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/halimah-wants-to-continue-living-in-her-hdb-flat
  46. ^ http://www.theindependent.sg/netizens-express-disapproval-over-mdm-halimahs-decision-to-stay-in-hdb/
  47. ^ http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/president-halimah-yacob-to-move-out-of-yishun-hdb-flat-mha-9270082
  48. ^ Tham, Yuen-C (17 July 2017). "More consultation needed before my decision to run for president: Halimah Yacob". Straits Times. Archived from the original on 29 July 2017. Retrieved 29 July 2017. 
  49. ^ Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh (29 August 2017). "Halimah Yacob unveils presidential election campaign slogan and team". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 29 August 2017. Retrieved 29 August 2017. 
  50. ^ "Getting to know Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee, husband of Madam Halimah Yacob". Thoughts of Real Singaporeans. 11 June 2017. Archived from the original on 29 July 2017. Retrieved 29 July 2017. 
  51. ^ a b Zhang, Laura (8 August 2017). "Our First Gentleman to be, Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee". www.theindependent.sg. The Independent. Archived from the original on 17 August 2017. Retrieved 17 August 2017. 
  52. ^ "Halimah Yacob named Singapore's first female president". Al Jazeera. 14 September 2017. Retrieved 14 September 2017. 
  53. ^ https://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2017/10/02/president-halimah-to-move-out-from-yishun-residence-to-a-new-location/
  54. ^ "Cultural Ambassador is Berita Harian Achiever of the Year 2009". Singapore Press Holdings. 29 July 2009. Archived from the original on 25 May 2015. Retrieved 21 May 2011. 
  55. ^ "Her World Woman of the Year celebrates 20 years". Her World. 25 March 2011. Archived from the original on 30 December 2016. Retrieved 21 May 2011. 
  56. ^ "Recipients of AWARE Awards 2011". Association of Women for Action and Research. Archived from the original on 28 July 2017. Retrieved 28 July 2017. 
  57. ^ "Halimah Yacob, trade unionist and first woman Speaker of Parliament". Singapore Women's Hall of Fame. Singapore Council of Women's Organisations. Archived from the original on 28 July 2017. Retrieved 28 July 2017. 

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Michael Palmer
Speaker of Parliament
2013–2017
Succeeded by
Tan Chuan-Jin
Preceded by
Tony Tan Keng Yam
President of Singapore
2017–present
Incumbent