Photo of SR Nathan from SPH

Former Singapore President SR Nathan passed away yesterday (Aug 22) at around 9.28pm in the intensive care unit at Singapore General Hospital. The 92-year-old has been hospitalized after suffering a stroke on July 31.

SR Nathan was a member of the Japanese invasion military police Kempeitai against Singapore during World War 2, he then pledged his loyalty to former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and became affluent. He became Singapore’s sixth and longest-serving President between 1999 to 2011, which he won twice via undemocratic means using electoral walkover and disqualifying his opponents. When SR Nathan was in power, he had no idea of how much national reserves the country had and also did not declare, or may not even be aware of, the number of times the Singapore government dipped their hands into the national reserves to withdraw the funds.

SR Nathan was drawing S$4,267,500 a year when he was President – a legislation passed by the single party-controlled Parliament, to which he responded:

“I didn’t ask for it. That was the rate for the job, that’s what I accepted. You don’t like the rate, I can’t help it.”

Throughout his profile as President, SR Nathan was infamous as a “quiet duck”, making near-zero comment on any issue in 12 years. The ruling party PAP selected him because the yes-man knows nothing about government policies and is generally apathetic to politics.

The President profile was taken over by the new PAP-select candidate Dr Tony Tan in 2011, who won the election marginally by 0.34%. The next Presidential election will be held next year in 2017.

Singapore is one of the few countries which have both Prime Minister and President positions. The original intent to have the President position is to prevent, in the case of a freak election, a new government other than the PAP from accessing the national funds.