DAP’s effort to play the race card may backfire

Lim Sian See

DAP has gone to town with praises and celebration of the “election” of Halimah Yacob as Singapore’s first female president.

Lim Guan Eng even issued a statement pointing out that she is a woman and a Malay too.

While I welcome that a Malay lady is now the Singapore’s president, it is important to understand the context of how it happened and why this “election” had been seen as controversial.

Firstly, the post of president is largely ceremonial as the real power is held by the Prime Minister, who is Lee Kuan Yew;s son Lee Hsien Loong. In fact, Halimah was a Member of Parliament from PAP, whose head is Lee Hsien Loong too.

Secondly, Halimah is not the first Malay to be president. Yusof Ishak was the first president between 1965 and 1970 and his face is on Singapore’s bank-notes.

Thirdly, Singapore changed its laws In November 2016 for a “reserved elections”.

What this means that if a certain race has not been president for the past five terms, then the presidency must be reserved for a particular race in the next elections.

This means that by law, the presidency for this term must be a Malay since no Malays had been president for the past five terms. No other races are even permitted to contest.


Fourthly, Halimah won uncontested in this “reserved” election. Under Singapore’s law, candidates for president must be pre-qualified and given a Certificates of Eligibility by a Presidential Elections Committee

In this particular “election”, all of Halimah’s potential competitors for the post had been disqualified for the post – either for not being Malay or for the reason that the candidate had not managed a S$500 million company before.

One of the two other candidates only ran a S$250 million company and had also promised to investigate PM Lee Hsien Loong for abuse of power if he won. Hence, he was disqualified.

So, Halimah just had to turn up to submit her nomination papers and immediately after nomination closed, she won – saving Singaporeans the need to come out to vote.

Therefore, DAP and their current supporters efforts to play the race card and glorify Halimah’s presidency “victory” could end up back-firing on them – especially since this victory has now suddenly become controversial in Singapore itself.

Guan Eng hails Halimah for her achievement in Singapore – says this is a significant milestone for women as well as Malay-Muslims.




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