Worst Kept Secrets of Halimah Yacob

Halimah Yacob just announced she’ll run for Singapore’s Presidential Elections 2017, for real.

It is one of the worst kept secrets this year, where she decided not to say yes until everything has been sorted out (she had to talk to her family, residents, consider her existing duties etc etc).

It’s not like she can suka suka drop everything and go for the presidency, and if she loses, it’s not like she can just say “Can put me back as Speaker?” right?

So what other worst-er kept secrets did Halimah Yacob have that maybe you already knew (or can just pretend you did)?

1. Halimah Yacob’s a Malay (no, you don’t say!)

It’s no secret Halimah’s technically half Malay (mother’s side).

But with Singaporeans typically looking at the glass half-empty, her father racially wasn’t Malay as he was Indian, and it is convenient to ignore the fact she spent more time with her Malay mother (who raised her as a single mum when she was 8).

It is also a surprise to some that Halimah Yacob is a “certified” Malay, not once but thrice certified.

Means she identified herself as a Malay, and the Malay Community Committee confirmed yes she is a Malay.

Hossan Leong will need to come up with a “thrice confirm” joke in his next comedy.

And in 2001, Berita Harian named her Woman Achiever of the Year, for individuals who have contributed significantly to the Malay/Muslim community.

2. She was a lawyer who took companies to court over workers’ rights

What kind of life did she lead before entering politics?

Well, a Google search led to this article that showed Halimah Yacob was the Director of NTUC’s legal department.

In 2009, she and the union took a construction company to court for not wanting to conclude a collective agreement with a union.

Halimah Yacob
Halimah Yacob taking company to court (NTUC This Week)

3. She started working at 8 years old at an illegal pushcart

She would wake up at 430am and help her mother buy groceries.

Then after school, she would help her mother sell nasi padang in Shenton Way on an illegal pushcart.

4. She studied at Singapore Chinese Girls’ School

Being poor, she only had one school uniform to wear every day until it was fraying, and her shoes had lobangs.

If you can’t imagine her in SCGS uniform, go watch the video below.

She says “growing up in a Chinese school where I mixed with girls of all races could have allowed me to see things from different perspectives.”

5. She lives in a 5 room HDB flat in Yishun

For 30+ years already.

Confirm resale value higher than others if it is sold one day.

Halimah Yacob stays in HDB (TNP)

What other not-so-secret secrets did Halimah Yacob have that you didn’t already know?

Well now that the cat is already out of the bag, and with the presidential elections coming soon, her whole life will be put on display and debate for Singapore.


Originally published at Jules of Singapore.