Halimah Yacob became the first female president of Singapore after she took oath of office on Thursday. She is a former speaker of parliament from the Malay Muslim minority. She won the elections for President’s office unopposed as her rival candidates were declared unfit because they failed to meet strict eligibility criteria.
The presidency “unifies our nation by embodying our shared values as a people — multiracialism, meritocracy, and stewardship. These values are even more important today, guiding us as we find our way forward in a troubled and uncertain world,” she said in her inaugural speech.
She added, “I look forward to the day when we will no longer need to… have reserved elections, and Singaporeans naturally and regularly elect citizens of all races as presidents.”
The role of the country’s president is largely ceremonial, but she will have powers on key government appointments and safeguards the country’s substantial financial reserves.
Halimah is the first Malay president of Singapore for almost five decades. The last was Yusof Ishak, president from 1965 to 1970, the first years of the city-state’s independence.
But the absence of an election has angered Singaporeans, with many venting their ire on social media.
Social activist Gilbert Goh has organised a protest on Saturday at the city-state’s designated free-speech corner.
“Our first-ever lady Muslim President Halimah will be inaugurated today and amid the pompous fanfare, Singaporeans feel a sense of betrayal that they have lost the chance to vote in the next head of state,” he said in a statement ahead of the swearing in ceremonies televised live.
The 63-year-old, Yacob, became the country’s first female parliament speaker in January 2013, a post she quit last month in order to run for the presidential office.
Singaporean former President Tony Tan Keng Yam ended his six-year term in office at the end of August.
“RIP! Democracy,” wrote Mohamed Raizulee on Facebook, according to news agency Press Trust of India.
Halimah Yacob's Acceptance Speech Gets Ripped Apart By Singaporeans And Labelled Disgraceful https://t.co/EltcVbTX7e
— DILYS TAN (@aginghope) September 14, 2017
Netizens saying Halimah Yacob's presidency was undeserving since she wasnt elected by the people need to take a seat
— Ronner (@Werepenguin) September 14, 2017