“You must look at the candidate, and the contributions and achievements of the candidate, more than anything else”, said Halimah Yaacob at her press conference today.
“And if you look at the work that I’ve done, as a trade unionist, as a Member of Parliament, as the Speaker of Parliament and so many different fields – whatever I have done has been putting the interests of the people first, rather than looking at my party colours,” she continued.
Although there is a high possibility that there may not be a contest at all (the other two candidates fall short of the requirements), there is a need to understand what she represents for Singapore.
“A president should unify the nation and channel our shared values into doing good for the country, and wholeheartedly serve Singapore and Singaporeans. I hope to be the kind of president that Singaporeans want and will look up to”, she affirmed.
First and foremost, before the President can play her role as a second key to the reserves or her constitutional roles, she has to be a unifying figure. She has to be able to pull together all manner of Singaporeans and unite the diverse. Can Halimah do that? Well, her campaign team does appear to be a good representation of Singapore society.
At the launch of her campaign, she revealed the key members of her team. They include Mary Liew, president of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC); Chia Yong Yong, a Nominated Member of Parliament; Lim Hock Chee, CEO of supermarket chain Sheng Siong; and NUS academic Associate Professor Simon Tay. All of which are persons whom have contributed significantly to Singapore.
In respect of these things, she qualifies both automatically and substantially. Automatically because she ticks all the boxes required of eligibility and substantially because of her ability, her skills and her command of the community.
The other two candidates will not qualify automatically. The business empires they command fall short of the $500m requirement. They will have to rely on Presidential Elections Committee to provide a concession (as they have done with Tan Cheng Bock the last term, Tan did not automatically qualify either).
However, Farid Khan and Mohd Salleh have both come a long way in the lead up to the elections. Both have achieved extensive media coverage and spoken at lengths about themselves, their families and what they want for Singapore. Both have claimed to have no political affiliations and are but only businessmen. If this was so, they would certainly have many roles open for them in many organisations and communities in the country.
So there we have it – elections or no elections, it is quite clear who is the right man or woman for the job.