J Y Pillay heads list of National Day Award recipients

green and white leafed plantsSINGAPORE: Mr J Y Pillay, the longest serving chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisors (CPA), heads the list of National Day Award recipients this year.

He was awarded the Order of Temasek (with Distinction).



“Naturally, I am very pleased to be receiving this totally unexpected award. I wish to thank those who deemed me worthy of it”, Mr Pillay told CNA in an email.

Mr Pillay provided counsel to three presidents, serving as chairman of the CPA from 2005 until this January.

A top civil servant, he held senior positions in various ministries and is credited with building up Singapore Airlines as its chairman from 1972 to 1996.

He was also Managing Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).



Not long after his posting to the MAS, Mr Pillay experienced a “baptism of fire” – the Pan-Electric crisis in November 1985.

“It was a crisis of the stock-broking industry, which at that time was a mutualised entity. The industry recovered, but it took another fifteen years for it to be demutualised and modernised”, he said.

Mr Pillay pointed out “two outstanding mentors” – the late Ministers Hon Sui Sen and Goh Keng Swee.

“Both driven by the common desire to make our world a better place. And both great human beings. I am greatly indebted to them”, Mr Pillay said.

Mr Lim Chee Onn, who is a member of the CPA, was awarded the Order of Nila Utama (with High Distinction).

Three individuals were awarded the Distinguished Service Order: Sembcorp Industries and GIC Investment Board Chairman Ang Kong Hua, CPF Board and PUB Chairman Chiang Chie Foo, and Charity Council Chairman Gerard Ee.

Dr Ee, who is also the Chairman of the Agency for Integrated Care, shared that the award has a special meaning to him.

One that links him to his late father, philanthropist Ee Peng Liang, who was a model to him.

“My own father received a similar award in 1985. Roughly about the same age as me. So just thinking about it, if my dad was around, he would be very proud”, Dr Ee said.

The social service veteran has more than three decades of experience – in roles such as Chairman of the now-defunct Toa Payoh Girls’ Home, and the National Kidney Foundation.

Still, his enthusiasm is contagious.

“At the end of the day, search your heart. You cannot do anything well, if you don’t have the passion for it, and there’s no easy right or wrong.”

“Once you do something that you’re passionate about, there’s no day or night, and you don’t feel tired. Every morning, there’s a compelling reason to jump from bed, because there’s so much to do,” he said.

A total of 4,985 individuals received National Day Honours this year.

A full list of this year’s National Day Award recipients is available at PMO website.

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