J Y Pillay, an Indian-origin veteran civil servant, was appointed as Singapore’s acting President on Friday until a new head of state is sworn in later this month. Pillay, 83, took over from Tony Tan Keng Yam who completed a six-year term on Thursday.
Pillay, Chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers (CPA), will act as the president until after polling day on Septemeber 23 – or after nomination day on September 13, if a candidate is elected unopposed.
When the office of president is vacant, the first in line to exercise its powers is the CPA Chairman, followed by the Speaker of Parliament, The Straits Times said. This is the first time the office has fallen vacant since the elected presidency was introduced in 1991, according to the report.
Pillay is no stranger to exercising the powers of the president. He has been the acting president every time the president goes on an overseas trip. He acted as president in May, when Tan made state visits to Europe.
Pillay has served for more than 60 such “stints” – the longest of which was 16 days in April and May of 2007, when then President S R Nathan visited Africa. Three candidates of Malay origins are expected to stand for election for the president’s post is reserved this time for a minority group representation at the highest office of the land.