There are no Muslim Malays in the top echelons of Singapore s army, and few among the senior ranks of its judiciary, but a member of its poorest ethnic minority is set to become the first woman president of the Southeast Asian city state this week.
Halimah Yacob, a former speaker of parliament, will be formally named to the mostly ceremonial post on Wednesday, media reported, after other candidates fell short of the criteria set for contesting the election.
Aiming to strengthen a sense of inclusivity in the multicultural country, Singapore had decreed the presidency would be reserved for candidates from the Malay community this time.
Halimah s experience as house speaker automatically qualified her under the nomination rules.
Of the four other applicants, two were not Malays and two were not given certificates of eligibility, the elections department said.
The last Malay to hold the presidency was Yusof Ishak, whose image adorns the country s banknotes.
Yusof was president between 1965 and 1970, the first years of Singapore s independence following a short-lived union with neighboring Malaysia, but executive power lay with Lee Kuan Yew, the country s first prime minister.
The separation of Singapore from Malaysia gave ethnic Malays a clear majority in Malaysia, while ethnic Chinese formed the majority in independent Singapore.