People's Action Party member of parliament and Speaker Halimah Yacob has given her clearest indication yet that she intends to contest the upcoming presidential election in September.
"I am thinking about it, of running for the presidency," she told reporters after a community event at her Marsiling ward. "The elected presidency is a very heavy responsibility and an important institution in Singapore, so it's not something that one should take lightly... so it needs a bit of time to think."
She said she has been asked this question many ties and felt honored and humbled by the support. But she added that she needed more time to consult with her family and colleagues further.
The reticent potential candidate had till Sunday been mum on her intent, often evading the question or denying the rumors when asked about her candidacy.
She has been the Speaker of Parliament for the PAP dominated parliament since 14 Jan 2013. As part of her role as speaker, she is sometimes required to assume the role of the president if the President and the chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers is away.
As of today, only 2 other candidates have announced their intention to run: Farid Khan Kaim Khan, 62, chairman of Bourbon Offshore Asia Pacific, and Mohamed Salleh Marican, 67, chief executive officer of Second Chances Properties. Both men have collected their election forms.
Although the criteria for candidates is to have been the top executive of a company with at east $500 million in shareholder equity, the Presidential Elections Committee has the discretion to determine if candidates are eligible to run should they not meet the stringent criteria.
Bourbon Offshore Asia, a subsidiary of French multinational marine company Bourbon, reportedly has shareholder equity of US$300 million ($415 million), while Second Chance Properties, which is listed on the main board of the Singapore Exchange since 2004, has had shareholders' equity of between $254.3 million and $263.25 million in the last three financial years.
Prospective candidates will also be given a Malay community certificate by a newly set up "Community Committee", which was formed to assess their Malay-ness.
Mr Farid and Mr Salleh have both faced criticism for their lack of "Malay-ness", with netizens pointing out that Mr Farid is of Pakistani descent, while others criticized Mr Salleh for not being fluent in Malay.
Asked for her comments on this, Madam Halimah said: “I am very much a member of the Malay community.”
She added that her father, who died when she was 8 years old, was born in Singapore, and she was brought up by her mother, who is Malay.
When asked if she had collected her election forms from the Elections Department, Halimah was coy as usual.
She answered: “(In the) modern day you don’t need to collect the form...whoever wants to stand as a candidate can download it.”