Know your Council of Presidential Advisers

Bhavan Jaipragas/

The Council of Presidential Advisers’s fundamental role is to advise and make recommendations to the president on certain key issues. Wee Kim Wee was the first president who enjoyed the services of the council, albeit only for two years before he stepped down. Ong Teng Cheong, Wee’s successor and Singapore’s first elected president, had more opportunities to work with the council throughout his term of office (1993– 99). The following are the current members of the council:

Mr J Y Pillay (Chairman)

Mr Joseph Yubaraj Manuel Pillay is a former top ranking civil servant who served in various ministries and government linked organizations over nearly five decades. Once hailed by then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong as ‘the civil servant able to stand up to his prime minister’ Mr Pillay’s most significant contribution was as chairman of Singapore Airlines, a post he held for 24 years until he relinquished it in 1996. Mr Pillay, 77, has been the chairman of various organizations including OCBC, DBS, Temasek Holdings and Neptune Orient Lines. Mr Pillay, who served as Singapore’s High Commissioner to Britain and Ambassador to Ireland from 1996 to 1999, was also the founding chairman of SINDA.

Mr Pillay was first appointed to the CPA in 2001 for a six-year term. He assumed the chairmanship of the Council in 2005, succeeding Mr Sim Kee Boon, the former chairman of Keppel Corp. He has since been reappointed twice on four-year terms, in 2007 and again early this year. As Chairman of the CPA, Mr Pillay will assume the post of Acting President in the absence of the President.

Mr Dhanabalan

Former high-profile Cabinet Minister Suppiah Dhanabalan started his career as an Administrative Officer in the Ministry of Finance before taking up senior positions in the Economic Development Board and the Development Bank of Singapore (DBS). He held the position of Executive Vice President of DBS from 1970-1978. Mr Dhanabalan held several Cabinet portfolios during his tenure in the Singapore government from 1978 to 1994. He is currently the Chairman of Temasek Holdings. Mr Dhanabalan was first appointed as a member of the CPA in 2004. He was reappointed for a second four-year term last year.

Mr Po’ad Bin Shaik Abu Bakar

One of the three minority members of the CPA, Mr Po’ad Bin Shaik Abu Bakar Mattar is also a member of the Public Service Commission (PSC). An accountant by training, Mr Mattar, 63, was a Senior Partner in Big 4 accounting firm Deloitte and Touche until he retired from the position in 2006. According to the PSC website, Mr Mattar currently sits on the Board of Directors of Hong Leong Finance Limited, Tiger Airways Holdings Limited, Keppel Offshore & Marine Limited and NIE International Private Limited. Mr Mattar was appointed as a member of the CPA in 2007 on a six-year term.


Mr Yong Pung How

Mr Yong Pung How was post-independence Singapore’s second Chief Justice, serving as the Republic’s top judge from 1990 to 2006. 85-year-old Mr Yong, who was born in Kuala Lumpur, moved to Singapore after the 1969 racial riots in Malaysia. Prior to his 16-year tenure as Chief Justice, Mr Yong enjoyed an illustrious career in the corporate sector, including stints as the chairman and chief executive officer of OCBC, as well as managing director of GIC. Mr Yong was appointed as a member of the CPA in 2007 on a six-year term.


Mr Goh Joon Seng

Mr Goh Joon Seng served as a Supreme Court judge for two decades until his retirement from the Bench in 2000. Mr Goh, 76, is currently a consultant in the Litigation and Dispute Resolution department at Lee & Lee. Mr Goh also served as the chairman of the Committee of Inquiry into the escape of former Jemaah Islamiyah leader Mas Selamat Kastari. Mr Goh was appointed as a member of the CPA in 2008 for a six-year term.


Mr Bobby Chin Yoke Choong

Mr Bobby Chin is the newest member of the CPA. He was appointed for a six-year term last year. An accountant by training, Mr Chin served as the managing partner in Big 4 firm KPMG from 1992 to 2005. He is currently the chairman of the Tote Board and is one of OCBC Bank’s board of directors. He is also one of the two non-Indians in the SINDA board of trustees.


Mr Lim Chee Onn (Alternative member)

Mr Lim Chee Onn is currently the chairman of Singbridge International, a Temasek Holding owned company that focuses on sustainable urban development. Mr Lim, who was the Executive Chairman of Keppel Corp from 2000 to 2008, was previously the secretary-general of NTUC and a former minister without portfolio.


Mr Stephen Lee (Alternative member)

Mr Stephen Lee Ching Yen is currently the President of the Singapore National Employers’ Federation. He is also the Chairman of Singapore Airlines Limited,  and Managing Director of Shanghai Commercial and Savings Bank Ltd (Taiwan) and Great Malaysia Textile Investments Pte Ltd. He was a nominated Member of Parliament from 1994 to 1997. He is also part of the Ministerial pay review committee headed by Mr Gerard Ee.


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