President Halimah Yacob was elected Singapore’s first woman head of state in 2017.
SINGAPORE – President Halimah Yacob has made it into the top 50 in a list of the world’s 500 most influential Muslims compiled by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre, a think-tank in Jordan.
At No. 38, Madam Halimah, who was elected Singapore’s first woman head of state in 2017, is the only Singaporean and one of only five from South-east Asia in the top 50 of the 2020 edition of The Muslim 500.
She is also the only woman in the top 50.
The annual compilation, in its 11th year, ranks Muslims around the world according to how much impact they have on their community.
Madam Halimah was recognised for her efforts in promoting social cohesion and also in championing workers.
Her award citation said: “As President she has promoted initiatives for supporting a cohesive society, strengthening interfaith and recognising all workers who contribute to Singapore’s growth.”
“She has a strong international profile, regularly meeting world leaders.”
Among the initiatives she has mooted as President is an interfaith forum drawing leaders of different faiths from around the world to come together to promote understanding between their communities.
This materialised as the International Conference on Cohesive Societies, held for the first time this year.
She also started a new initiative to show appreciation to workers who are largely toiling behind the scenes, such as transport workers.
Madam Halimah has been climbing up the rankings since she was first included in the compilation. She was in the 45th spot in 2018, and 41st in 2019.
Also in the top 50 this year were four others from South-east Asia: Indonesian President Joko Widodo was ranked 13, Professor KH Said Aqil Siradj, chairman of Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama, was ranked 19, Indonesian preacher Habib Luthfi Yahya was ranked 33, and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was ranked 42.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was named man of the year, while United States Representative Rashida Tlaib was named woman of the year.