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Singapore gets first woman President sans poll

Published : Sep 14, 2017, 2:38 am IST
Updated : Sep 14, 2017, 3:01 am IST

Many angry over other candidates’ disqualification.

Halimah Yacob
 Halimah Yacob

Singapore: Singapore got its first female President on Wednesday, but the milestone was overshadowed by criticism that her selection was undemocratic after she was handed the job without a vote.

Halimah Yacob, a former Speaker of Parliament from the Muslim Malay minority, did not have to face an election for the largely ceremonial post after authorities decided her rivals did not meet eligibility criteria.

It was not the first time in the affluent city-state — which is tightly controlled and has been ruled by the same party for decades — that the government has disqualified presidential candidates, making an election unnecessary.

But there was already unease about the process as it was the first time that the presidency had been reserved for a particular race, in this case the Malay community. The decision to hand her the job without an election added to the anger.

Social media was abuzz with criticism as Ms Yacob, a bespectacled 63-year-old who wears a headscarf, was formally announced as president-elect, 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 ha-shtag #NotMyPresident.

Ms Halima addressed the concerns about the selection process after being named President-elect.

“I’m a President for everyone. Although there’s no election, my commitment to serve you remains the same,” she said.

Tags: halimah yacob, joel kong, malay community