JY Pillay Appointed Acting President of Singapore

The Indian-origin civil servant will act as the president until a new head of state is sworn in later this month.


JY Pillay, the chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers (CPA) in Singapore, was appointed as the country’s acting president after former president Tony Tan Keng Yam left office following the end of his six-year term on August 31.

The 83-year-old veteran civil servant will act as the president until a new head of state is sworn in later this month. If a candidate is elected unopposed, the Nomination Day will be September 13 or else the Polling Day is scheduled to be September 23, The Strait Times reported.

In Singapore, when the office of president is vacant, the CPA chairman is the next in line to fill the post, followed by the Speaker of Parliament.

This is the first time the post has been vacant ever since elected presidency was introduced in 1991.

Not the First Time for Pillay

This is not the first time Pillay will be  exercising the powers of the president. He took over the duties every time the acting president went on an overseas trip. In May, he acted as president when Tan went on a state visit to Europe.

Pillay has so far filled the post for brief periods more than 60 times. The longest tenure was for 16 days between  April and May 2007, when the then president SR Nathan visited Africa.

Indian Roots

Pillay, who was born in Malaysia to an Indian mother and Sri Lankan father, is also known for his contribution to the success of Singapore Airlines (SIA). What started as a small fleet of just 12 aircraft when Pillay took charge in 1972, became one of the world’s top airlines after he became the chairman.

He also held the post of the chairman of Singapore Indian Development Association executive committee. He has been the permanent secretary in the finance, defence and national development ministries. Pillay, an Indian Catholic, often quotes from the Bhagavad Gita as a management tool, according to an earlier CNN report.

Founding Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, once said Pillay was “equal to the best brains in America”.


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