“HaLEEMAD is a puppet President.” – Anonymous attendee at the #NotMyPresident Singapore protest 

Halimah Yacob was sworn in as Singapore’s first female President at the State Room of the Istana on Thursday morning.

However, the 63 year-old’s election as President was not without controversy. The Singapore government established such narrow criteria for candidates to run for Presidential Elections 2017 that only Halimah Yacob made the cut, being the only candidate for Singapore President.

The Election Department issued only one Certificate of Eligibility for the contest of Presidential Elections 2017 to Halimah Yacob. This is also the first time Singapore is implementing a reserved Presidency for an individual from the Malay community.

The other two intended contestants, Salleh Marican and Farid Khan, met the criteria of being from the Malay community but fell short of the qualification criteria of owning a SGD$500 million company.

Since the issuing of the single eligible candidate on Monday, Singaporeans have taken to social media sites to express their reactions to the walkover Presidency this year, with enraged netizens expressing their unhappiness under the hashtag #NotMyPresident.

“An election would’ve been a good gauge to see general political opinion of voters with regards to the establishment post-Lee Kuan Yew’s death,” said Roy Ng, 24, an undergraduate at the National University of Singapore.

Retiree and Uber driver Lo, 67, never liked the “manipulative tactics” of the government.

“I believe this year’s reserved Malay Presidency is to keep Tan Cheng Bock from running,” said Lo.

Tan Cheng Bock had the second highest number of votes during the 2011 Presidential Elections. “I’m used to witnessing the government’s blatant ways of manipulating policies for their own agenda.”

However, non-supporters were countered by an equally vocal group online with the hashtag #HalimahIsMyPresident, encouraging Singaporeans to support their first female President.

Don Wong, 49, a neuro linguistic programme trainer, said that he does not feel that Singapore’s democracy was compromised with the walkover.

“Having a reserved election is another side of democracy being shown. Singapore is being open enough to have a reserved racial representation is a form of openness,” said Wong.

Housewife Norita Abdullah, 45 said though there is only one approved candidate for this year’s Presidential Elections, it does not affect her support for Halimah Yacob.

“I will still support Halimah regardless if there is a contest or not,” said Abdullah, who is from the community-run AIN society.

“I have trust in her character.”

The following are photos from the silent #NotMyPresident protest that happened yesterday, Saturday 16 September at the Speaker’s Corner at Hong Lim Park organised by political activist Gilbert Goh.

Among the crowd of silent protestors were iconic politicians including Tan Cheng Bock, Chee Soon Juan and Jeanette Chong-Aruldoss.

Halimah Yacob will serve as Singapore President for the next six years.

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All photos: Sheryl Teo. Taken with permission.

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