Halima Yacob to become Singapore’s first Muslim president

Halimah Yacob

Halimah Yacob, the former Speaker of Parliament in Singapore, is soon to become the country’s first Muslim female president.

Yacob, 63, will become president after an election that saw no vote after no other contenders ran for the position.

She is expected to be sworn into office on Thursday to the largely ceremonial post. The president is vested with the responsibility of overseeing the country’s national asset reserves, but does not hold any of the executive powers of the prime minister or members of the cabinet.

Authorities had decided to allow only candidates from the Malay community to put themselves forward for the presidency, a bid to foster harmony in the city-state of 5.5 million people which is dominated by ethnic Chinese.

The other two contenders, Salleh Marican and Farid Khan, were both denied eligibility, having fallen short of a constitutional rule that required any candidate from the private sector to have led a company with shareholder equity of at least 500m Singapore dollars ($372m).

Following the announcement, Yacob thanked her supporters in a speech, calling it a “a proud moment for Singapore, for multiculturalism and multi-racialism.” She added: “I am a president for everyone, regardless of race, language, religion or creed. Although there’s no election, my commitment to serve you remains the same.”

While some have applauded the historic moment, the election has also drawn public criticism due to what was seen as a lack of democratic process.

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