In her swearing-in speech, the 63-year-old welcomed the government’s changing of the constitution so that presidential elections can be reserved for minority-race groups only – a move which has been hugely unpopular among the Singaporean populace.
President Halimah was appointed after her walkover win in PE2017, in which the election was reserved for Malay candidates only.
Two of her closest competitors were barred from running as they did not meet upgraded financial eligibility requirements.
Speaking on the issue of multiracialism, Mdm Halimah said she knows that some Singaporeans would prefer to achieve this (the appointment of a Malay president) without needing reserved elections.
She said that she hopes one day reserved elections won’t be needed:
“I look forward to the day when we will no longer need to rely on the provision to have reserved elections, and Singaporeans naturally and regularly elect citizens of all races as Presidents.”
The reserved election system allows for an election to be reserved for a particular racial group if no one from that group has been president for five continuous terms.
It was made law under controversial circumstances.
President Halimah also spoke about meritocracy in her first public address as president.
“Without it, I would not be here today,” she said.
Finally, on the issue of stewardship, President Halimah pledged to be “independent” in her role as 2nd key to Singapore’s reserves.
“The President holds the second key to our reserves, and to key appointments in the public service. In exercising my custodial powers, I will use my independent judgement, consulting the Council of Presidential Advisors, and working closely with the Prime Minister and the Government.”