Tag Archive | "sr nathan"

SR Nathan passes away despite few weeks of prayers & well-wishes to get better soon

SR Nathan passes away despite few weeks of prayers & well-wishes to get better soon

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Singaporeans wished they could have put more thought into their prayers and well-wishes.


Singaporeans from all walks of life, who sometimes go through motion without thinking, have their arms akimbo and heads down, after they heard that former president SR Nathan passed away on Aug. 22, 2016, at the age of 92.

This despite Singaporeans sending numerous prayers and well-wishes his way after hearing that he suffered a stroke and was admitted to hospital a few weeks ago.

One Singaporean, Qi Dao, said she is sad: “I sent SR Nathan a get-well-soon message on Facebook and added a Like. I saw many other Singaporeans do the same.”

“On hindsight, it was a bit too cookie-cutter as I just intuitively crafted a get-well-soon message in four or five seconds as a way to mitigate the negative feelings I had at that time and quickly moved on to the next post on my Facebook news feed.”

“If only I had lingered a bit longer on that post.”

Other locals said they are slowly noticing the error of their ways.

One other local, Tai Yi Yang, said: “Thinking about it now, I must admit my Facebook exhortation to get better was a bit pedestrian and too similar to the thousands of other exhortations to get better.”

“If only my get-well-soon exhortation was accompanied by a picture or a moving gif, who knows? Things might have turned out differently.”

At press time, thousands of Singaporeans are sending condolences and sad face emojis via Facebook.







S’poreans cry out: ‘We’ll trade the other guy to have SR Nathan back’

S’poreans cry out: ‘We’ll trade the other guy to have SR Nathan back’


Please, they said.


Singaporeans from all walks of life, who undergo divine discontent, have fallen on their knees and threw their hands to the sky.

This after they heard that former president SR Nathan has passed away at the age of 92 on Aug. 22, 2016.

One Singaporean, Wei Shen Mur, said: “Why? Why must it be SR Nathan? Can’t it be the other guy instead?”

Other locals said surely there is a way to work around this.

Another local, Didi Pai, said: “You can have the other guy and his trains.”







Ex-president SR Nathan’s Freudian slip caught on camera?

Ex-president SR Nathan’s Freudian slip caught on camera?


Comments he made take on a new life after more than one year.


In old footage of a television interview dug up by people with too much free time on the Internet, the ex-president of Singapore SR Nathan was captured on screen in a Freudian slip moment.

His comments — made during the final days of his presidency — were telling as he let slip that he wanted nothing more than freedom: “I want to be free to do what I want.”

This has led experts to analyse his inner thoughts.

Human resource director, Bo Kang Zho, said: “People who want to feel free to do what they want should have just joined the private sector. People in private sector follow a simple rule. Do what you want. If you’re not happy, just leave.”

“No such thing as spend 12 years at one place feeling hampered.”

SR Nathan’s memoirs will not include “Official Secrets”

SR Nathan’s memoirs will not include “Official Secrets”

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Looking forward to coffee shop half-boiled eggs and sarong after retirement though, says outgoing president SR Nathan.

Caricature of SR Nathan taken from http://stevecaricature.wordpress.com/ (Very talented artist! Check his works out!)

In his 12-year tenure as president, the most difficult decision SR Nathan had to make was in 2009.

He had to decide whether to approve the Government’s request to dip into past reserves to fund programmes to help Singaporeans through the financial crisis.

The 87-year-old said: “Of course there was the Council of Presidential Advisers who gave you advice. But even to evaluate that advice, you need to develop your own sense of the lie of the land, and what is happening and what it can lead to.

“It’s not just on a sheet of paper coming in (and) saying yes or no”.

Although his custodial role managing the reserves made his life dicey at times, Nathan’s life in the civil service before becoming president also had its exciting moments.

He and 12 civil servants and SAF commandos were awarded the Meritorious Service medal for their role in the Laju highjacking in 1974.

Nathan was then the director of the Defence Ministry’s Security and Intelligence Department.

Four terrorists had hijacked the Laju, a ferry operating between Pulau Bukom and mainland Singapore after trying to blow up Bukom, and demanded the presence of the 13 civil servants as guarantee of a safe passage to Kuwait on a Japan airlines plane.

This risky episode will be related in his memoirs to be released in September, which was written over 15 years starting in 1996 when he ended his stint as an ambassador to the US.

He had initially intended to publish it post-humously because he claims civil servants are not interesting.

He said, “You know, civil servants have nothing exciting to tell. What can you tell?”

Moreover, those looking for insider or classified information into the presidency can forget it.

He said, “You can’t tell the Official Secrets anyway, the exciting things, so what was the point? I was only telling my experience.”

Nathan also revealed he hasn’t been to a coffee shop in 12 years to eat half-boiled eggs.

While in the Istana, he spent a lot of time entertaining foreign dignitaries, thinking about topics of conversation to engage them in because he doesn’t rely on the guidance given by the foreign ministry and offered his patronage to many voluntary causes.

He admits not enjoying the fusion food served in the Istana, has a sweet tooth and likes spending time in his sarong.

Neither does he debate with Lee Kuan Yew. Or his own wife, Mrs SR Nathan a.k.a. Umi.

This is a 60-second reduction of the original two-part interview published in The New Paper on Aug. 29 and 30 that was plugging Nathan’s memoirs.

4 overlooked issues this presidential election

4 overlooked issues this presidential election

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It all starts by considering making voting voluntary. Hopefully, the rest will follow.

By Belmont Lay

This presidential election, there has been a lot of reasoning, defining, extrapolating and refutations about what the president can be, should be and would be and what the electorate wants and deserves.

And when we think about all these issues, there’s more.

So here goes:

1. Why not make voting voluntary?

Singapore is a First World country (supposedly). Singapore has a free economy. Singapore is where you are ensured running water and electricity.

Singaporeans are literate (although I doubt their numeracy, considering the number of people who got scammed by structured products).

The average lifespan is 75 years long.

Since we have covered all these bases, why can’t we progress and make voting in elections voluntary?

Isn’t that the way a truly mature, democratic state operates?

People shouldn’t be obliged to show up to vote. No one should be compelled by the threat of soft or hard sanctions to mark an ‘X’ even when they don’t feel like casting their ballot.

Sure, people can spoil their votes, but that’s functionally different from not showing up in the first place.

Because if voting is not compulsory, it allows people who care about the election to go ahead and decide.

And then allow people who don’t care get a state-sanctioned holiday and reason enough to go to JB for cheap seafood or Batam to raise a second family or stay home and make love or sleep.

True demcracy, I hasten to add, provides you the god-given right to choose.

Yes, it also encapsulates the right to choose not to choose and the right to not give a rat’s ass.

If you don’t care, you forfeit your right to have a say. How much fairer you want it?

And true democracy also gives you the right to campaign in an organised fashion against anyone you don’t like.

Like against Tony Tan, for example.

On this count, we’re not there yet, but we’re getting there.

2. Non-compulsory voting provides the president a clearer mandate.

In a related point about voluntary voting, wouldn’t the total voter turn-out provide a much more defined picture of how strong is the elected president’s mandate?

With a system of valid and spoilt votes now, it is not exactly ideal.

With things as they are, people with half an opinion, people who are clueless, people who find it hard to hazard a guess and people who just don’t care are given the same obligation to mark an ‘X’ on polling day as the next informed voter.

So if misguided, error-prone, coerced votes are mixed in a big pot, they might cancel each other out, right?

Ideally, that should be the case.

But sadly, errors do compound.

Regardless, here’s a little thought experiment: Assuming voluntary voting rules are in place this presidential election, wouldn’t it be interesting to know how many people were indeed for the winning candidate?

If he receives, say, 5,000 votes in a country of 2.3 million eligible voters and still wins, it says a lot about our new president, doesn’t it? And it says a lot about us too, right?

Are we scared of being honest about who we truly are?

3. What mandate, SR Nathan?

If voting for a president is to discharge an important democratic duty since it provides the elected head-of-state the mandate to preside, what about SR Nathan?

Nathan has two free passes to the Istana. Elected unopposed twice, what mandate of the people are we talking about here?

Why are we banging on about the “people’s mandate” only now?

4. The eerie silence of SR Nathan

It’s all so quiet… Shhhhhhhhhhhh…

Nathan has resolutely refused to comment publicly about the current slate of candidates.

As the only guy alive (since all the ex-presidents are indeed dead), he has refused to talk about what he does in an official and unofficial capacity. Except that the office of president has constitutional obligations.

For $4.2 million a year, he could be more verbose and not simply be the highest paid wallflower around.

He could, if he so choose, in one fell swoop lay to waste all the needless speculation way before polling day come Aug. 27 about what he does as a president and the sort of precedence that has been set so far.

But no, he is waiting until September to publish his tell-all memoir. Even then…


So, back to the original question: Why not voluntary voting?

I thought about this for a long time – 15 minutes to be exact – and I can only come to the conclusion that making voting voluntary would require a country to have a lot of balls to pull off.

With voluntary voting, there is the assumption that the citizenry cannot be insecure, are concerned enough to want to fight about things, to negotiate, to find a way and invest precious time and money just to get a debate started and ended, only to start another again.

At this point, I gather that Singapore is just too paranoid to feel secure about herself. About what exactly, I’m still trying to fathom.

The free and open economy, the provision of basic needs and the level of prosperity and education are necessary but insufficient conditions for politically-active citizenry.

We need to grow some passion.

We might be putting the cart before the horse if we think we can get more people involved just by making voting voluntary.

Then again, it could just work.

I don’t know what the elected president does

I don’t know what the elected president does

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Therefore, the method of getting the people to pick a president for Singapore is ridiculous.

By Belmont Lay

Does the President do anything more than model? Photo: CHRIS LIM / Creative Commons

LET’S  just throw up a few names here: George Yeo. Tan Kin Lian. Tan Cheng Bock. Tony Tan. SR Nathan.

And let’s assume all five of them are all going to run for president by August.

So what does this tell me? Well, the current slate of presidential hopefuls clearly represent a lack of choice.

And I’m not saying this to be a contrarian or a mischievous squirrel.

I’m saying this because even though they might be familiar faces to me one way or another, I have no idea at all what an elected president does – on a day-to-day basis.

Can he start a war? Can he dissolve parliament on a whim? Is he allowed to go to Plaza Singapura on his own? Especially when the folks from the PAP come by and he’s a tad tired of socialising?

If I don’t know what’s the job scope and what he gets up to (other than Star Awards), I can’t pick the best person for the job.

It’s like having to fit a key into a keyhole, except you’ve never seen the keyhole and putting the wrong key in might cause your house to explode, for example.

Think: So how are you then, the cleverest electorate to have found this missive, going to judge who among these valiant men can be the best at the president job?


Well, you could, of course, ask SR Nathan, our current president. As the second elected president of this glorious Republic, he’s been on the job for 12 years, so I’m sure he can share an anecdote or two about how it’s like to not sign on clemency appeals and having a personal chef and chauffeur.

A reporter did ask for his thoughts but he is keeping mum, which is to be characteristically quiet and wallflowerish, because he will only let you know in September when he publishes his memoirs!

In September! When the presidential elections are already over!

So the guy who knows everything is unwilling to even release a whimper.

And since hiring a clairvoyant to interrogate Ong Teng Cheong or Wee Kim Wee about their job scope is out of the question because I believe all clairvoyants are cunning, lying bastards out to make a quick one, this leaves us with the last guy who can give us an outpouring of opinion.

So I take a cue from the uber-academic who knows what he is talking about.

At this moment, you should by now recognise the extent of the problem? You, as the electorate who is going to choose your next president, know absolutely next to nought about what your president does.

Eugene Tan, assistant professor of law from SMU, says that the president has “two key custodial functions” and he is a holder of the “second key”.

This means, in English, that the president must ensure that the reserves stay full and that public service does not go to waste.

Oh yes, the president also has the task of preventing cunning, lying bastards (read: populists and underqualified politicians, not clairvoyants) who have overtaken parliament from spending the nation’s wealth on Lamborghinis.

If all these still sounds very vague to you and me, it is. But that’s not all.

And then Tan admonishes us to “endeavour to keep the contest non-partisan and non-adversarial; the contest ultimately is about who can best do the job”.

But that’s essentially the same as Randy Jackson saying: “Yo dawg, may the best person win American Idol”.

Stating the obvious is fun to watch when picking a singer for TV entertainment. Not when choosing a president.

And then Tan also exhorts us in the same article “to get to know the aspiring candidates seeking to be their head of state”.

Now imagine that you have. You know all the candidates from head to toe. And then what?

At this moment, you should by now recognise the extent of the problem? You, as the electorate who is going to choose your next president, know absolutely next to nought about what your president does.

Nathan himself, not very strangely then, concedes: “What have I done? (I have) done nothing… It’s hard for me to quantify… It’s a very intangible thing.”

Nathan also said: “…although I’ve been quiet, I’ve been doing work”.

This reminds of what I tell my friends when they query me about what I did during National Service as a naval diver.

I would say, “I run around carrying a boat on my head, shouting”. For those who have done that before, you can attest that that happened quite a bit.

Therefore, naval divers are also evidently doing quite a bit of work, but in our case carried out in a very visible way because of the ruckus we would create.

But honestly, none of what we were doing was very CONSEQUENTIAL.

So, here’s the point of today’s missive: Dear Nathan, it is not really how much work you did not do while in office. It is how much you did that mattered.

But since I don’t know what you didn’t do because you’re not saying, I have no choice but to vote for George Yeo as the best guy for the job based on Sesame Street reasoning.

Because among all, he is the odd one out: He is not an endomorph.

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