SIN­GA­PORE GETS FIRST FE­MALE PRES­I­DENT WITH­OUT A VOTE

Swazi Observer - - NEWS -

SIN­GA­PORE - An es­tab­lish­ment stal­wart was named Sin­ga­pore's first fe­male pres­i­dent but the mile­stone was over­shad­owed by crit­i­cism 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 orig­i­nally due this month af­ter au­thor­i­ties de­cided her ri­vals did not meet strict 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 can­di­dates for the pres­i­dency, 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 eth­nic group, in this case the Malay com­mu­nity, and the de­ci­sion to hand her the job with­out a vote added to anger.

So­cial me­dia was abuzz with crit­i­cism as Hal­imah, a be­spec­ta­cled 63-year-old who wears a head­scarf, was for­mally an­nounced as the 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 hash­tag NotMy Pres­i­dent - echo­ing the mes­sage used by up­set Amer­i­cans af­ter the elec­tion of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. Hal­imah, a mem­ber of Par­lia­ment for the rul­ing Peo­ple's Ac­tion Party for nearly two decades be­fore re­sign­ing to con­test the pres­i­dency, tack­led the doubts about the se­lec­tion process in a speech to a cheer­ing crowd af­ter she was named pres­i­den­t­elect.

"I'm a pres­i­dent for ev­ery­one. Although there's no elec­tion, my com­mit­ment to serve you re­mains the same," she said.

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.

Sin­ga­pore's head of state has limited pow­ers, in­clud­ing ve­to­ing se­nior of­fi­cial ap­point­ments, but an es­tab­lish­ment fig­ure has al­ways held the role and there are rarely ten­sions with the gov­ern­ment. AFP

NO VOTE: Sin­ga­pore first fe­male pres­i­dent Hal­imah Ya­cob.

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