First Woman Speaker
In recent years women have been able to advance up the political ladder like never before, with Hilary Clinton occupying what is arguably the second most powerful position in the world right now. There are more numerous examples of women being taken into office across the world in developing countries, yet there is still some way to go if they are to get to the level of men. But now Singapore has taken steps to show that it is not behind the times by electing Halimah Yacob as the city-states first female Speaker in Parliament.
After being nominated for the post by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, she has been ordained into the seat and now takes over the reins from the disgraced Michael Palmer, 44, who left the job in disrepute after having an affair. It will take some time to rebuild the image of the speaker but Halimah has time to assert her own stamp on proceedings.
The job is very similar to that of the speaker in the Houses of Parliament in Great Britain, with John Bercow occupying the seat right there. Parliament can get quite lively with many people trying at once to express their views. Halimah, 58, will supervise debates that go on inside the House and will be able to crack her whip if anyone gets out of line. There are many rules within the standing orders which stop people from shouting out or name calling, and this ensures Parliament can run in an orderly fashion. Without the speaker, it would have the potential to descend into absolute chaos.
Halimah had to give up her former job as Minister of State for the Ministry of Social and Family Development
immediately. This is because the speaker must be impartial and therefore cannot be a Members of Parliament because they have a role in the decision making.
Prime Minister Lee obviously thinks he has made a shrewd decision and described Halimah as a person who spoke "with a practical, compassionate voice, helping us to shape effective policies with a human touch".