With former Speaker of Parliament Mdm Halimah Yaacob sworn in as the new President on September 14 – after being the only qualified applicant announced by the Presidential Elections Committee – many have wondered what will come next from President Halimah.
While many took to social media to express their views about the reserved elections and the new criteria set for candidates from the private sector, it is undeniable that Singaporeans will have Mdm Halimah as the President for the next six years.
Parallels can also be drawn between President Halimah’s election and that of the late Ong Teng Cheong, where he contested against a reluctant opponent (Mr Chua Kim Yeow, former Accountant-General) who publicly told voters to vote for Mr Ong.
In both circumstances, there was only one obvious choice – yet the late Mr Ong’s presidency led him to become “the people’s President”.
Amidst the disagreements and resistance put up, the upcoming six years will provide many opportunities for President Halimah to prove her worth.
What can Singaporeans expect from President Halimah?
Could we expect the unexpected from President Halimah? Afterall, she is different from her predecessors. Beyond superficial issues – such as the official title for her husband – Halimah could find herself in the center of many religious and societal issues affecting Singaporeans.
These may include hijabi-related problems, the call to help those in the lower financial strata, and championing gender equality. Many can expect her to leverage on her roles as a woman and a mother to her office, bringing in a firm yet motherly touch into the Istana.
Regionally, it is also crucial for President Halimah to hold her ground in a male-dominated political climate, as she navigates through rapidly evolving foreign ties between countries.
While these are uncertain, it is likely that President Halimah will have to make powerful waves during her term in order to be recognised as the people’s President.
Perhaps, the least we could look forward to is this – seeing US President Donald Trump’s face when he shakes President Halimah’s hand and meet her in their respective official capacities.