by Jerel Lim

Warm, Personal, Generous. These are some traits describing President S. R. Nathan. He served the office with dignity, care and charm. Mr. Zainul Abidin Rasheed, former senior minister of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs:” He has represented Singapore to presidents, kings, princes, prime ministers and ministers, and done the job so well that he will be remembered not only just by Singaporeans .”

With President Nathan leaving behind such a legacy, how will the future president match up? Even presidential candidate Dr Tony Tan said:” His (President Nathan) time in office will be remembered as one of wisdom and compassion. I join Singaporeans in thanking him for his steadfast commitment to duty.”

How are supposed to vote in this upcoming presidential election? The answer is really simple- President Nathan has done a terrific job as Head of State, let’s give head to what he says in his statement to the press regarding his decision not to run for a 3rd term. 

“Whatever the constitution says about the powers of the elected president, and however varied people’s perceptions of the office may be, ultimately the welfare of our country and people depend upon the way Singapore is governed and administered…At the same time, whether in the office of the president or in the executive arm of government, we will always need people of strong character and vision who resist populist pressures and the temptation to sacrifice the long-term interest of the nation in response to those who merely snipe without having to take responsibility.” –a fair warning and good advice to take heed.

Can any candidates match up to that? Maybe. As well as being dignified, caring, warm, personal, generous? Very rarely do we see such a person. In my opinion, in this election watch out for these traits, as these define a President.

Even though the President does not have many executive powers as compared to some other countries, but President Nathan has not been idle during the 12 years of being the president. “He (President Nathan) always had a special place in his heart for people who are vulnerable, for children, for the disabled.” Said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan.

Will the president that we are going to elect have similar goals? Or will he have his own agenda, even though the presidential powers are severely limited?

Read More in this Spotlight Series

The Roles & Powers of the President of Singapore

Presidential Candidate: Tan Cheng Bock

Presidential Candidate: Tan Kin Lian

Presidential Candidate: Tony Tan