Singapore President cites advancing age as reason

Singapore President S.R. Nathan on Friday announced his decision to step down from the highest office without seeking a third successive term.

In a statement, ahead of a widely anticipated presidential election soon, Mr. Nathan cited his advancing age for choosing to relinquish the job. He said: “In a few days I will be reaching the age of 87 years. At this stage of my life, I do not believe that I can undertake indefinitely the heavy responsibilities and physical demands of the position of Head of State.”

Thanking Singaporeans for their affection and kindness over the past 12 years of his two terms as President, Mr. Nathan said he had also “earned [his] fair share of criticism.”

In an obvious reference to the current public mood in Singapore, he said: “We face a future in which the challenges to our leaders will be different from those in the past, but every bit as substantial” as before. The leaders “must all be responsive to constructive criticism,” he emphasised.

The office of President and other top executive positions would, therefore, “need people of strong character and vision who resist populist pressures and the temptation to sacrifice the long-term interests of the nation in response to those who merely snipe without having to take responsibility.”

Regardless of the “varied perceptions” about the present system of an elected president with a role to play in safeguarding the City-State's vast foreign exchange reserves, Mr. Nathan said: “The welfare of people depends upon the way Singapore is governed and administered.”

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