The Istana

As Tharman Shanmugaratnam takes his place as the next president of Singapore on 14th September, he would be spending a lot of time at the Istana, the office of the President of the Republic of Singapore. The Istana (‘palace’ in Malay) was the official residence for 21 of Singapore’s governors during the colonial era. This Neo-Palladian style building was first designed and completed in 1869 by Colonial Major John Frederick Adolphus McNair.

Although largely a ceremonial role, the president has certain executive powers vested in him as a check and balance to parliament. As the head of state, he oversees Singapore’s financial reserves and can revoke and grant public service appointments. He also holds the prerogative to grant pardons.

The president represents the country in official diplomatic functions especially in welcoming diplomats and dignitaries from all over the world. The latter are always hosted in the Istana’s halls.

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