Halimah Yacob on Thursday took oath as the first female president of the Republic of Singapore. The 63-year-old leader’s election to the largely ceremonial post was primarily attributed to the strict eligibility criteria that her rivals could not meet. The authorities had decided to allow only candidates from the Malay community to nominate themselves for the presidency in a bid to give more opportunities to the minority community in the city-state of 5.5 million people which is dominated by an ethnic Chinese population. Interestingly, the President in Singapore oversees the country’s national asset reserves but does not hold any of the executive powers of the Prime Minister or members of the cabinet.
Here are the seven things that you need to know about the new president of Singapore
1. Born on August 23, 1954, Mdm Halimah’s father was an Indian Muslim and her mother was of Malay descent. Her father was a watchman who died when she was only eight-years old. She was brought up by her Malay mother.
2. Halimah is Singapore’s first ethnic Malay president in 47 years since the late Yusof Ishak. She is a a former labour lawyer and has extensive experience in the labour movement, social work and pre-school education.
3. She completed her LLB (Hons) from the University of Singapore in 1978. In 2001, she completed an LLM degree at the National University of Singapore (NUS). An honorary Doctor of Laws degree was also bestowed on her from NUS on 7 July 2016.
4. She is married to Mohammed Abdullah Alhabshee, a retired businessman of Arab descent, and is a mother to five children.
5. Halimah had been an MP of the ruling People’s Action Party for nearly two decades.
6. Halimah also served as the Deputy Secretary General of National Trades Union Congress. Halimah was elected as the Workers’ Vice-Chairperson of the Standards Committee of the International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva from 2000 to 2002 as well as in 2005.
7. In 2013, she became Singapore’s first female Speaker of Parliament, a post she quit to become President.