Not as if we didn’t expect it, but Halimah Yacob will be Singapore’s next president — and the country’s first female head of state.
It’s news that doesn’t sit well with many; citizens weren’t even able to vote for a president after all. The former stalwart of the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) was the only one who was certified by a committee to be qualified enough to run for office, ensuring an easy walkover come Nomination Day on Sept 13.
With Halimah having the backing and blessings of the government, the two other aspiring candidates didn’t even stand a chance. Farid Khan and Salleh Marican were denied the opportunity to run for the reserved presidential elections, even though it was believed that the committee would let them have a fair chance at it, despite both falling short of fulfilling qualifications for private sector candidates.
Obviously, Halimah meets the qualifications. Having entered politics in 2001, she quickly rose as a Member of Parliament before later becoming a Speaker of Parliament in 2013 — therefore being the only one that fulfils all the qualifications of a candidate in the public sector.
Since she announced her intention to to run, many have accused it of being a charade. The popular presumption is that the ruling PAP changed the playing grounds by mandating that the next president will have to be Malay, thereby preventing former presidential candidate Dr. Tan Cheng Bock from running again, especially since he very nearly beat PAP stalwart Dr. Tony Tan in 2011.
As of today, that presumption simply entrenched itself further, and there’s nothing anyone can do. Halimah Yacob will be president by default, and the PAP’s strength grows even larger — perhaps a timely reminder that the voices of Singaporeans don’t really matter when it comes to how the country should be run.
Similarly, the outpouring of public disappointment has grown even bigger, especially on social media since the news broke. And not just because the absence of election deprived everyone of a official public holiday.
Harking to the days when Americans started the #NotMyPresident movement after Donald Trump became president, angry Singaporeans started using the same hashtag to make their frustrations clear. It’s already trending on Twitter and Facebook.
— Kenneth Lin (@vipersonic) September 11, 2017
— Vv (@ChasteGaymer) September 11, 2017
— Martin Archie (@generalmartin) September 11, 2017
— David Teo Boon Hwee (@reddawn) September 11, 2017
— Socially_Cal (@Socially_Cal) September 11, 2017
Other strongly-worded opinions have started to emerge as well: