20 March 2018
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  • » 09/13/2017, 13.33


    Halimah Yacob becomes Singapore’s first woman president

    The presidency was reserved for Malay candidates. In Singapore, the president has veto power over appointments and economics.

    Singapore (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Halimah Yacob, a former speaker of parliament, is Singapore’s eighth president, the first to be a woman.

    Ms Yacob, who resigned as speaker in August, was the only one of three candidates to get a “certificate of eligibility” to run in the 23 September election.

    The two others, businessmen Farid Khan and Salleh Marican, did not meet key criteria set for presidential candidates. This means there will be no election.

    With the aim of strengthening a sense of inclusivity in the state, a constitutional amendment made last November reserved the presidential post this time to the minority Malay community.

    Singapore has a population of 5.75 million, including 1.6 million non-residents. Singapore is a multiethnic society with ethnic Chinese (76.2% of the citizen population), Malays (15.0%), and ethnic Indians (7.4%).

    Some analysts argue that the choice stems from the need to maintain good diplomatic relations with neighbouring Malaysia. Singapore is located at the tip of the Malay peninsula.

    The two countries split in 1965, which gave ethnic Malays a clear majority in Malaysia, whilst ethnic Chinese formed the majority in independent Singapore.

    After Yusof Ishak, who was president from the year of independence until his death in 1970, Halimah is the second Malay president.

    In Singapore, the presidency is largely ceremonial, but has some veto powers over the appointment of key government positions and the use of the country’s financial reserves.

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