Joseph Yuvaraj Pillay, DUNU (First Class) (born 30 March 1934), also known as J. Y. Pillay, was the chairman of the Singapore Council of Presidential Advisers from 2005 to 2019. He was appointed acting President of Singapore following the end of President Tony Tan's term on 31 August 2017. He served 34 years (until 1995) as a top-ranking civil servant and an entrepreneur. He is one of the pioneers who helped build the Singapore economy after its separation from Malaysia in 1965.

J. Y. Pillay
President of Singapore
In office
1 September 2017 – 14 September 2017
Prime MinisterLee Hsien Loong
Preceded byTony Tan
Succeeded byHalimah Yacob
Chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers
In office
September 2005 – 2 January 2019
PresidentS. R. Nathan
Tony Tan
Halimah Yacob
Preceded bySim Kee Boon
Succeeded byEddie Teo
Personal details
Born (1934-03-30) 30 March 1934 (age 85)
Klang, Malay States (now Malaysia)
Beatrice Rasammah (m. 1963)
Alma materImperial College London

Life and careerEdit

Few can match his record of public service in the Ministry of Finance, Temasek, GIC, MAS, MND and not to speak of SIA and SGX.

Temasek chairman and former top civil servant S.Dhanabalan[1]

Pillay was born at Klang in Selangor, British Malaya in 1934. He graduated from Imperial College London.[2]

His most significant contribution was building Singapore Airlines into a world-class carrier.[2][3] He served as Chairman of Singapore Airlines from 1972 until 1996. He is one of the few Civil Service officers to reach Staff Grade III.[4]

He was the Chairman of the Singapore Exchange between 1999 and 2010.[5]

He was the Chairman of Tiger Airways Holdings[6] from 2011 until 2014. He is currently the Chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers.[7]

He was the Acting President from 1 September 2017 when President Tony Tan's term expired on 31 August 2017, until the next president Halimah Yacob, was sworn into office on 14 September 2017.[8]

He stood down as Chairman of the CPA on 2 January 2019 which was handed over to Eddie Teo. [9]


In 2012, the National University of Singapore (NUS) set up two professorships in his honour, for his contributions.[10][11]

For his public service, Pillay was awarded the Order of Nila Utama (First Class), one of Singapore's most prestigious National Day Awards on 9 August 2012.[12]


  1. ^ "J. Y. Pillay a pioneer in public, private sectors". The Straits Times. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
  2. ^ a b "J Y Pillay Profile". National University Singapore. Archived from the original on 5 September 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
  3. ^ Lee, S.H. (10 April 1998). "Ex-SIA chiefs honored as "legends'". The Straits Times.
  4. ^ Ibrahim, Zuraidah (26 March 1995). "J. Y. Pillay: Visionary with a clear focus". The Straits Times.
  5. ^ "J Y Pillay to step down as SGX chairman at year-end". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 14 September 2010.
  6. ^ "Tiger Airways: Appointed Mr. J Y Pillay As Non-Executive Chairman". ShareInvestor. Retrieved 29 August 2012.
  7. ^ "Istana — Council of Presidential Advisers". Istana, Singapore. Archived from the original on 15 August 2012. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
  8. ^ "Pillay takes on role of acting president". The Straits Times. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  9. ^
  10. ^ "NUS honours Prof J Y Pillay".
  11. ^ "NUS honours J Y Pillay". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
  12. ^ "J Y Pillay awarded highest public service honour". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
Political offices
Preceded by
Tony Tan
President of Singapore

Succeeded by
Halimah Yacob