Halimah Yacob is set to become Singapore’s eighth president and its first female leader this week after other candidates were deemed ineligible.
Singapore’s area is only around 710 square kilometers, and its population is less than 6 million but despite its small area, it is the fourth leading financial center in the world. Its gross national product exceeded $508 billion last year and the per capita income exceeded $90,000, which is double that of France and around 3 times the Italian per capita income.
The Presidential Elections Committee declared Yacob, 62 years old, the only eligible candidate for the post which this year was reserved for candidates from the Malay minority and informed the other two candidates, Farid Khan and Salleh Marican, that they were ineligible.
The country’s constitution stipulates that the presidential candidate must have held a public post for at least three years. Yacob actually served as parliament speaker since 2013 and until August 2017.
Since she’s the only candidate, the elections scheduled for September 23 were cancelled and she will be appointed president on Wednesday.
Who is Halimah Yacob?
Yacob is the second Malay to become president after Yusof Ishak who became president in 1965 after the country became independent. She’s also the second Muslim to hold the post. Muslims are not a majority in Singapore as they only represent 14 percent of the population. Buddhists represent more than 33 percent of the population while Christians represent 18 percent and Hindus represent 5 percent.
Yacob will hold office for a term of six years succeeding Tony Tan. Her father is Indian and mother is Malay while her husband’s father is Yemeni and his mother is also Malay.
She is referred to as “Madam” Halimah Yacob in local media outlets.
Her husband, Mohammed Abdullah al-Habshi, is a retired businessman whose father is originally from Hadhramaut in Yemen.
According to the English-speaking Singaporean daily, The Straits Times, Yacob holds a law degree from the National University of Singapore and she is worked in the public field for 40 years.
She met her husband at the university where he graduated with a college degree, the Channel NewsAsia reported, and they married in 1980, two years after her graduation. They first lived in a studio then with relatives and eventually bought a house in the town of Tampines for $75,000.