Halimah Yacob is Singapore’s first woman Speaker of Parliament

SINGAPORE: Madam Halimah Yacob is Singapore’s first woman Speaker of Parliament.

She took the Speaker’s seat at the start of the sitting of the House on Monday afternoon.

Madam Halimah, who resigned on Sunday as Minister of State, fills the position vacated by former People’s Action Party Member of Parliament, Mr Michael Palmer, who stepped down on 12 December 2012 due to an extramarital affair.

She was nominated by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to be elected as Speaker.

Speaking to Channel NewsAsia earlier, Madam Halimah said she will evolve her own style in parliament. "Everyone brings to the position that we hold as Speaker our own experience, our own context and I’m sure that shapes a great deal how we conduct the proceedings.

"The Speaker’s role is to conduct proceedings in an orderly manner and efficiently and we need to work quite a lot with members of parliament as well, because everyone plays a role in maintaining the status, prestige and dignity of parliament so that’s important," she said.

There’s been no word yet on who will succeed Madam Halimah as Minister of State for Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF).

But Madam Halimah said the person has to have enough passion for the job. "This job requires someone who has the passion and interest. And this job, it’s not just the job of making policies, you must really love the job and the people— connecting to the people.

"The job that you do here, you need to connect with the people because we work a lot with our partners like family service centres, voluntary welfare organisations and numerous charities and volunteers, you need to be able to connect and engage with them," she explained.

She said she will continue to pursue her love for social causes.

"The issue really is that I really hope to be able to continue making sure that I have — continue to have some links with the social sector, helping the needy, the underprivileged, the poor. I think that’s important, and also women and children, so those are the areas which I love doing, which I have been doing in MSF and I hope I can continue doing it in some capacity."

— CNA/ck