Mdm Halimah’s Road to Istana

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By Mary Lee

I did a straw poll of 10 Malays at the rehabilitative hospital at Ang Mo Kio yesterday. “Are you happy our next president is a Malay woman?

I expected a chorus of “Yes!” Two men said “No” to my surprise, another man and two women said “No comment”, a group of four well-dressed and made-up women said “Of course!” (there was a note of offence that I had asked the question), the one male patient with them said “Yes, she’s qualified” and my Grab driver said, “It doesn’t matter — they’ve fixed it.” So there was no unanimous support for her among her own race.

Why had I expected a unanimous “Yes”? Because it was the first Malay in 47 years to assume the ceremonial post. But I hadn’t seen any discussion of the most significant point of this “reserved presidency” — that the PAP government had appointed a woman as head of state.

What does this mean? That many important but “soft” issues, such as education, social welfare, women’s issues like discrimination in the workplace, caring for aged parents and special needs children may now have a champion in Madam Halimah.

In a lengthy Facebook post, activist Saleemah Ismail gave a list of issues Madam Halimah was the first PAP MP to support such as giving domestic helpers one day off a week and protection against family violence. (I can see men, Malay and non-Malay, cringing at this. They shouldn’t — women have put up too long with being second class.)

Madam Halimah should next turn her attention to healthcare workers, and ask why Singapore women have turned away from this profession. Fortunately, Filipinas, mainland Chinese and Indian women (and men) are staffing our wards.

The sight of a Muslim woman in a tudung as head of state should calm some of our neighbours, although they may not find it easy dealing with her intellect.

So what about the controversy of it being “rigged” in her favour to keep Tan Cheng Bock out of the race? He did lose by fewer votes than can be found in one block of HDB flats! Had the other two Malay candidates not been disqualified from this race, then at least those who wanted to express disapproval of the rigging could have cast spoilt votes. But that is not to be and Singaporeans, being pragmatic, should just Facebook the new President on issues she should champion. This would build up support for her candidacy in six years. time. But honestly, she wouldn’t have to do much to outshine her predecessor. Most important of all, she has opened the door for women to occupy the Istana! ##

55 COMMENTS

  1. It will be a shame if she submits her nomination paper and accepts to become the president because this presidency has no legitimacy. Reason being…. 1. She is not a Malay. 2. She will not be a democratically elected president.3. It will be another big shame that after her inauguration her pictures clad in Tudung will be put all over Singapore when she failed to fight for the rights of her fellow Muslim women who have been denied to wear their Tudung at their work place. 4.It will also bring shame to Singapore. 5. All over Singapore people are angry and frustrated and are venting their displeasure over the social media. 5. This is a manipulated selection by the PAP to force their choice candidate.6. In a true democracy the president must be elected by the people on a level playing field. 7. On the whole this so called PE is a sham.

  2. Not a people decided n voted president. Just a hand picked one by govtment of the day. No moral authority.

    Citizens have to work hard for bread n butter. A chosen one simply walks in with ease to million $ pay with plenty of incentives.

    There wd be no elected president down the road as the govt would start now planning to include only the ruling elites. This is a price sleeping sinkies have to pay. Wake up Spore, when??

  3. The problem is her participation reflects poorly on her ignoring her family of origin, meritocracy and gender equality. She has shown that she is someone who welcomes partaking in manipulation. How can we expect her to be objective? A whole lot of crock it is.

  4. Looking at the rise of China, possible Chinese chauvinism in Singapore instigated by China, the upheaval in the religious world, nearer home of extremism, the fractious voting outcome around the world due to widening gap of the have and have not, the inability of government to satisfy the multifaceted diverse population, likely that PAP will lose more seats in the next election, this EP is the way it is. Having said all these, Halimah is a good person who will unite the population. She came from the ground and had worked with the people. She did not start from the point, like most western educated of the population to checkmate / stalemate the government, to pincer movement Parliament and government, with a volatile President and opposition MPs. Time ahead will be tough and we need her pair of healing hands. So we should move on.

      • Spot on Tiffany. Is the whole process and concept. Its the government that is racist not the citizens. We look forward to a qualified individual who aspire to serve the people . It takes time and effort to do so . We are Singaporean regardless of race language or religion base on meritocracy . They don’t need to reserve nobody complain ,l checked with my Singaporean Malay buddies they are not sensitive on this issue. We are so comfortable as Singaporean we can poke jokes on each other on any subject including religion and yet not offended for we know our roots and who we are ,we are not insecure . So what is the fuss about that work up everyone? There are better pressing issue for them to handle. Haiz

  5. How can such a presidency be accepted by the people? Her presidency is wrong on so many levels.

    Serene Ng hit the nail on the head in her impassioned message on Halimah Yacob’s facebook ~ where are the values we espouse in our pledge in this PE?

    Where has “regardless of race, language or religion” gone? Where has “justice and equality” gone? Where has “a democratic society” gone?

    The words of our pledge ring hollow in this shameless bulldozing act by a PAP parliament. What will they do next to justify their actions – amend the very words of our pledge??

    Will Singaporeans wake up in time in the next GE2020? Or will we allow the PAP to continue having the majority in parliament?

  6. South Africa was once a Racist Country even in a Racist Country they get to vote for their President.
    Sg is a First World Country are we going backwards to 3rd World or are we worst off than 3rd World where we are deny the chance to vote the President of our CHOICE .

  7. Next General Election would increase the amount to be eligible for contesting in GRC or Single wards. You will then again see a lot of walkover and they still maintain the power in control. Do Singaporean want this to happen? It can happened in a PE, I am sure it will happen in the GE as well.

  8. then i start: #tobeourpresident
    TO BE A PEOPLE PRESIDENT NOT CONTROLLED PRESIDENT.

    TO BE A RESPECTFUL PRESIDENT FIRST SPEAK AND LISTEN TO YOUR PEOPLE.

    BE A SUCCESSFUL PRESIDENT YOU NEED TO HAVE YOUR PRIDE AND PRINCIPAL.

    BE A SINGAPORE PRESIDENT YOU must be choosen and elect by the people…

    TO BE OUR PRESIDENT WE WANT YOU TO READ AND UNDERSTAND WHAT IS STATED IN OUR SINGAPORE NATIONAL PLEDGE.

  9. The Straits Times, Sept. 13, 2017. Headlines – Halimah : “Heartland President”. The usual MSM – Sing, sing, sing. Tomorrow, heart-landers ask – Move to Istana, your new home. Talk, talk, talk. Then, The Big Move, move, move, move. The greatest American President of modern times – Ronald Regan, from actor to President. Ours, sama, sama. President-to-be, thinking about it, President -in-waiting, at National Day parade rehearsal, President-heart-lander, moves to Istana. Wayang, wayang, wayang. In the footsteps of Ronald Regan. From actor to President.

  10. It may just see it as a selected President by government of Singapore. On the bigger picture what would other countries look at this? What kind of Government Singapore has after the death of LKY? Do you think they want to make friend with Singapore with the attitude of Kiasu and Pau Win and not fair competition within their own. People will have second thought of doing business with you.