Asia & Australia

September 13, 2017

Singapore gets first ‘no vote’ female president


Female President

On September 13, a strong and courageous woman was named Singapore's first female president but the victory was overshadowed by criticism that followed her selection after she was handed the job without a vote.

Halimah Yacob, a former speaker of parliament from the Muslim Malay minority, was directly selected as the President whose ceremonial proceedings were due this month. Earlier too, the government has made elections unnecessary by disqualifying candidates for presidency in the country is tightly controlled and has been ruled by the same party for decades.

As it was the first time that the presidency had been reserved for a particular ethnic group i.e. Malay community, there was already unease about the process and the decision to hand her the job without a vote added to anger.

Halimah, bespectacled 63-year-old who wears a headscarf, was surrounded with criticism through social media, with Facebook user Pat Eng writing: "Elected without an election. What a joke." "I will call her President Select from now on," said Joel Kong on the networking site, while some posts were marked with the hashtag NotMyPresident -- echoing the message used by upset Americans after the election of President Donald Trump.

Halimah tackled the doubts about the selection process in a speech to a cheering crowd after she was named president-elect. "I'm a president for everyone. Although there's no election, my commitment to serve you remains the same," she said. As a member of parliament for the ruling People's Action Party, she served for nearly two decades before resigning to contest the presidency.

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