In a press release yesterday, MHA said that it has informed Madam Halimah that “the security agencies face several challenges in ensuring her security and protection, if she continues to stay in her current home”.
In a Facebook post later, Madam Halimah thanked everyone for their concern on her residential arrangement.
She said: “Therefore, as much as I would like to continue living in my current home in Yishun, I have accepted MHA’s recommendation and will make arrangements to move to a new place soon.”
Madam Halimah has lived in her jumbo Yishun flat with her family for more than 30 years, and had continued doing so after being declared president on Sept 13. She is Singapore’s first head of state to live in public housing while in office.
The news did not surprise some of the residents who spoke to The New Paper.
Mr Tan Kim Boon, 56, who lives on the same floor as Madam Halimah, suspected something was up. He said he saw a moving company assisting some family members two days ago and they were “moving out several pieces of luggage”.
Mr Tan added: “It is better for her… Because some residents who drive, face inconvenience when she leaves or comes home.”
The police have intensified security measures in the area since Madam Halimah’s inauguration.
A resident who lives in the next block and wanted to be known only as Mr Cai, said he looks forward to a smoother drive to work.
The 35-year-old said he is often stopped by the president’s entourage in the carpark for 10 to 15 minutes in the morning when Madam Halimah leaves for work.
“Sometimes I would go back up to my flat to wait because it takes too long,” he said.
Inconvenience aside, most residents told TNP they would miss the added security.
“The neighbourhood feels more secure with regular police patrols and it is quite cool as you don’t get to see government vehicles every day,” said Mrs Zahara Sawalludin, 33.
Mr Lee Swee Seng, 53, who has operated a provision shop in the neighbourhood for 17 years, felt that the cleanliness and upkeep of the neighbourhood have also improved.
He said with a laugh: “They have to ‘make up’ the area and make it prettier as lots of people come to see her.”
And he will miss Madam President – who is one of his regular customers – when she moves, said Mr Lee.
“Everyone is proud of her and we will miss her. But, for now, she has a bigger duty to fulfil as the President of Singapore.”