BANGKOK — Singapore will get a new president Wednesday, but she will not be elected.
Halimah Yacob, 63, the former speaker of Parliament, will become the country’s first female president and the first in five decades to come from the Malay ethnicity when she is sworn in Wednesday. But what could have been a notable milestone for Singapore’s democracy is instead being publicly questioned as a rigged process, and her legitimacy is already coming under fire.
While Singapore’s Constitution does provide for voters to elect their president, the government established such narrow criteria for the candidates that only Halimah made the cut. Since she has no opponent, there will be no election.
“What would have otherwise been a democratic milestone is now besmirched with the ugly stain of an uncontested election — such is the cost of a government that thinks in terms of politics of power, as opposed to dignity,” wrote Rio Hoe, a law student, in a column on the website Consensus SG.