In a media interview with The Straits Times over his views on the upcoming changes to the presidential role, former President SR Nathan said that he doesn’t sing the national anthem during National Day because he liken himself to the Queen of England:
“Unlike the United States, where the President has executive powers, Singapore practises a system akin to the United Kingdom’s, where the Queen is the head of state but has little power.
So I often get asked why I keep quiet when everybody is singing Majulah Singapura on National Day. Yes, they are singing to me. I’m standing there! This is symbolic of the country. I don’t expect to sing to myself!'”
At the same time, SR Nathan lamented the lack of executive powers in the Singapore presidential role and the only time he actually fulfill his role was when he allowed the ruling party PAP government to spend S$4.9 billion from the national reserves in Jan 2009 when the government went into a budget deficit.
The 91-year-old unelected former President won his two presidential election by walkover in 1999 and 2005. SR Nathan said that he now supports Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s call to review the Presidential candidancy because “it was natural for it to be relooked after 25 years of its implementation”.
SR Nathan also said that there are more people who could qualify for the previous qualifications for a President candidate and declined to comment when asked if this is a sign of progress in Singapore.